Metal Gear Solid
Who'd have thought Metal Gear Solid would translate so well to an 8-Bit handheld? It's truly impressive how well Konami has ported the complex play mechanics of the PlayStation game to the Game Boy Color despite its fewer buttons. Sometimes that means pressing two or three buttons in combination to switch weapons and items, or to use your Codec. Once you play a bit, though, the control layout feels logical and becomes second nature. Outside of the obvious hit in the graphics and sound department, this cartridge would make a great game on any system. The story line, which seems to run parallel to the one in the PS MGS, has Snake returning to Outer Heaven to once again put an end to the Metal Gear menace. It's the most intriguing story in any Game Boy game to date, and it's delivered well through a series of cinemas featuring some beautiful hand-drawn art. Unfortunately, the cinemas in this game are just as plentiful and long-winded as their PlayStation counterparts. Even so, it's nice to see that Nintendo didn't force Konami to dumb down the story and allowed them to use a couple of mild expletives and some other PG-13 dialogue in order to keep the Metal Gear feel intact. Metal Gear Solid on the MGS features all the tactical-espionage action that made the PlayStation version a hit, plus a totally original story that's sure to please. Game Boy games just don't get any better.
Finally, a big-league franchise on the Game Boy that's actually faithful to its namesake. It's amazing how much Metal Gear Konami was able to stuff into this little cart. You have the stealth elements, the weapons, the items, the codec, distracting guards--there's even a VS. battle mode and a crapload of the VR training missions. It's like the old 8-Bit Nintendo and PlayStation Metal Gear games made sweet, sweet love and this was born. The pinnacle of GBC graphics, animation, and sound, with a great story that wasn't dumbed down to a 5th grade level (no offense, 5th graders). This joins Zelda and Pokemon as one of my favorite handheld games ever.
Gamers whose first experience with Metal Gear was on the PlayStation might be taken aback at first by the old-school look of this portable version. But make no mistake, it's got the same kind of game-play that made the PS version a hit (and the guards are less intelligent than ever). Gone are the 3D cinema screens, but it just makes the gameplay stand out even more. And in case you want a quick MGS fix you can go right into the VR Training Missions. Games like this and Nintendo's 8-Bit adaptations like Bionic Commando, Crystalis and Super Mario Bros. Deluxe are making the GBC the place for updates to classic games. And I say, keep 'em coming.
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The Game Boy Color seems an unlikely candidate for a sequel to one of the biggest games in PlayStation history. Nonetheless, the latest game in the Metal Gear saga has found a home on everyone's favorite 8-Bit portable game machine, and--surprise--it's actually good. It's been seven years since Solid Snake destroyed Metal Gear at Outer Heaven. However, thanks to the American government, the Metal Gear menace is not a thing of the past. Research has continued on the bipedal nuclear tank, and when the plane carrying Metal Gear is hijacked, the government needs Snake to return to Outer Heaven once again to stop the terrorists and save the world. Sound familiar?
What's odd about the Game Boy version of Metal Gear Solid is that it seems to take place at the same time as the PlayStation game, even though each one has its own completely different setting and story. Campbell and Mei Ling both make appearances in the GBC game, though Snake acts like he's never met Mei Ling before, just like he'd never met her before in the PS game. The whole thing is presented as though the stories are taking place parallel to each other.
Otherwise Metal Gear Solid on the GBC encapsulates just about every aspect of its PlayStation cousin. From the need to avoid detection and conflict to the seemingly endless collection of cinemas, it's all been shrunk down to Game Boy proportions with relative success. Besides the story mode, Metal Gear Solid on the Game Boy includes the now-famous VR missions and even a two-player Battle mode. Players can also go back to stages after they complete them in the main game and attempt to get a better rating based on their completion time, rations used and kills.
It may still be awhile until we see the true sequel to MGS for the PlayStation2, but this gem of a Game Boy game should at least make the wait a bit more bearable.