Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake cover art.
The cover illustration by Yoshiyuki Takani displays Metal Gear D prominently.
Developer(s) Konami
Publisher(s) Konami
Designer(s) Hideo Kojima
Composer(s) Masahiro Ikariko
Mutsuhiko Izumi
Kazuhiko Uehara
Tomoya Tomita
Yuko Kurahashi
Yuji Takenouchi
Tsuyoshi Sekito
Series Metal Gear
Engine Unique
Platform(s) MSX2, mobile phone, PlayStation 2, Virtual Console, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date(s) MSX2
  • JP July 20, 1990
Mobile phone
  • JP October 1, 2004
PlayStation 2
  • JP December 22, 2005
  • NA March 14, 2006
  • EU October 6, 2006
  • AUS October 13, 2006
Virtual Console
  • JP March 30, 2010
PlayStation 3
  • JP November 8, 2011
  • NA November 8, 2011
  • EU November 29, 2011
Xbox 360
  • JP November 8, 2011
  • NA November 8, 2011
  • EU November 29, 2011
Genre(s) Stealth action
Mode(s) Single player
Media/distribution Cartridge (MSX2)
download (mobile phone)
DVD (PS2, 360)
Blu-ray Disc (PS3)

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (メタルギア2 ソリッドスネーク Metaru Gia Tsū Soriddo Sunēku?, commonly abbreviated MG2) is an overhead stealth action game (officially promoted as a "Tactical Espionage Game"[1]) that was originally released by Konami in 1990 for the MSX2 computer standard exclusively in Japan. Metal Gear 2 was directed and written by Hideo Kojima, who also designed the MSX2 version of the original Metal Gear. While a previously developed Metal Gear sequel titled Snake's Revenge (a non-canonical installment produced without Kojima's involvement) was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America during the same year, Metal Gear 2 itself did not have an official English version until its inclusion as a bonus game (along with the first Metal Gear) in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence for PlayStation 2 in 2006, almost 16 years after its original Japanese release.

In the game, Solid Snake must infiltrate Zanzibar Land, a heavily defended territory located in Central Asia, to rescue a kidnapped scientist and destroy the revised Metal Gear D. The game significantly evolved the stealth-based game system of its predecessor "in almost every way," introduced a complex storyline dealing with themes such as the nature of warfare and nuclear proliferation, and is considered "one of the best 8 bit games ever made."[2]



The ability to crawl under tight spaces and hide from enemies was added in Metal Gear 2.

Metal Gear 2 builds upon the stealth-based game system of its predecessor. As in the original Metal Gear, the player's objective is to infiltrate the enemy's stronghold, while avoiding detection from soldiers, cameras, infrared sensors and other surveillance devices. The biggest change in the game was done to the enemy's abilities. Whereas the guards in the previous game could only see in straight lines, the guards in Metal Gear 2 all have a field of vision of 45 degrees. The guards can also turn their heads left or right to see diagonally and move from one screen to another (instead of remaining stationed in one area). The enemy can also hear any noise made by the player, which usually occurs when the player punches the wall, fires a non-silenced firearm, uses an explosive, or walks over certain types of terrain. If the player is discovered by the enemy, then a counter will be displayed on the upper right side of the screen that will go down after the enemy has lost track of the player. When the counter reaches zero, the alert phase will go off and the game will return to normal.[2][3]

The player has been given a variety of new maneuvers and tools to help them remain undetected and complete the game. For example, the player can now kneel and crawl in addition to walking, allowing the player to avoid making noise, pick up land mines, and hide under tight spaces such as under desks or inside air ducts. A radar with a 3x3 grid on the upper right of the screen shows Snake's current position in the center screen (as a red dot), with enemy soldiers as white dots, allowing the player to determine what's ahead. However, the radar is disabled when the player is in alert phase. The radar can also be used with the mine detector equipped to determine the locations of any placed mines or launch stinger missiles onto an airborne target. Many of the weapons and equipment from the first game are brought over as well as new items such as robotic mice used to distract enemies, a camouflaged mat and three different types of rations with special attributes each. The player no longer needs to rescue hostages to increase their rank; instead their health and carrying capacity is increased each time an enemy boss is defeated.[2]

The transceiver has been greatly revamped from the first game as well. The messages the player receives are now based on their current situation and mission objective, rather than the room they're currently in, making them less fixed and more dynamic. The transceiver now displays Snake's face, as well as the face of the character he's currently communicating with. The player can also talk to children living in the fortress to gain new information; the player is penalized with loss of health if he kills a child. The areas are more varied than in the previous MSX2 game and a number of puzzles must be fulfilled to complete the game, such as luring a carrier pigeon with a specific kind of ration, chasing after a female spy to the ladies' lavatory, and deciphering secret tap codes to gain new frequency numbers.[2] The overall game system of Metal Gear 2 served as the foundation for its 3D sequel, Metal Gear Solid.[4]



Solid Snake, formerly retired FOXHOUND agent and hero of the original Metal Gear returns as the playable character. His new mission is to rescue the kidnapped Czechoslovakian biologist Dr. Kio Marv from the forces of Zanzibar Land. He is assisted by a radio support crew consisting of Roy Campbell, his new commanding officer; McDonnell Miller, a survival coach and drill instructor; George Kasler, a military strategist; and Yozef Norden (renamed Johan Jacobsen in the later revised versions), a wildlife expert. Also assisting him on-site are Holly White, a CIA agent posing as a journalist; Natasha Marcova (Gustava Heffner in later versions), an StB agent and Dr. Marv's bodyguard; and Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, the Metal Gear designer from the first game, who was captured along with Dr. Marv. Also appearing in the game are Big Boss, FOXHOUND's commander-turned-traitor from the first game; and Gray Fox, who disappeared following the events of the first game.

The bosses of this installment consist of Black Color (Black Ninja in later versions), an experimental drug-enhanced space ninja (who is revealed to be Schneider from the original Metal Gear); Running Man, an agile mercenary; Red Blaster, a grenade throwing expert; Ultra Box (the Four Horsemen in later version), an assassination squad specializing in confined spaces; Predator (Jungle Evil in later versions), a jungle warfare expert; and Night Sight (Night Fright in later versions), an assassin who uses a state of the art stealth suit that renders him invisible. The final bosses in the game are Gray Fox and Big Boss from the first game.


Metal Gear series fictional chronology

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Metal Gear
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Metal Gear Solid (The Twin Snakes)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Metal Gear Solid: Rising
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

By 1999, the Cold War had thawed, and nuclear disarmament by the major world powers promised a bright beginning to the 21st century. Despite this, all was not well in the world. A series of shocks to the oil market spurred the development of new high-tech energy sources, including fusion power. However, most vehicles still relied on oil for power.

Oil reserves were at a critical low, and the world community was prepared to take drastic measures, either by drilling into sand and shale for more oil, despite the difficulty—or moving on to renewable fuels.

Such steps proved unnecessary when Czech scientist Dr. Kio Marv successfully bio-engineered a new species of algae, OILIX, that could produce petroleum-grade hydrocarbons with little expense and effort. Marv presented the algae to the World Energy Conference in Prague, and was on his way to a demonstration in the United States when he was kidnapped by soldiers from Zanzibar Land (a fictional country unrelated to the actual Zanzibar that is part of Tanzania). NATO discovers that Zanzibar Land's leaders plan to hold the world hostage by controlling the supply of oil and nuclear brinksmanship, via a stockpile of nukes raided from nearby missile sites.

Solid Snake is brought out of retirement by FOXHOUND's new commander, Roy Campbell, and is sent to Zanzibarland to rescue Dr. Marv.

On the course of his mission, Snake teams up with Holly White, a CIA operative posing as a journalist, and Gustava Heffner, an StB agent and Dr. Marv's bodyguard. He is also reunited with Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, the Metal Gear inventor from Outer Heaven, who claims to have been once again kidnapped and forced to work on another Metal Gear project (named Metal Gear D) for Zanzibar Land, as well as oversee mass-production of smaller, non-nuclear-equipped Metal Gear units. Snake learns from Dr. Madnar that Big Boss, Snake's former FOXHOUND commander, has survived and is the man in charge in Zanzibar Land.

Upon reaching the suspension bridge leading to the Detention Camp, Gustava is killed by a missile fired by Metal Gear D and Dr. Madnar is recaptured by the enemy. The new Metal Gear's pilot is revealed to be none other than Snake's former mercenary buddy Gray Fox. Determined to finish his mission, Snake fights against Zanzibar Land's elite mercenary force and manages to reach Dr. Marv's cell.

Solid Snake confronts Gray Fox in one of the final battles.

Snake arrives too late, unfortunately, as he finds the corpse of Dr. Marv, who was unable to survive the repeated torture. Dr. Madnar is also there and explains he was unable to save him. Just before Snake could retrieve the OILIX formula left by Dr. Marv, Holly reveals via a radio message that Dr. Madnar was not captured after all, but voluntarily resumed his work on Metal Gear and was personally overseeing its development as a result of being rejected by the scientific community after the Outer Heaven incident. After the truth comes out, Dr. Madnar attacks Snake, but fails in killing him.

With the OILIX formula in Snake's hands, Snake is confronted by Gray Fox piloting Metal Gear D. After successfully destroying Metal Gear D, Snake finds himself in a minefield. The two engage in hand-to-hand combat against each other, and Snake eventually emerges as victorious.

Upon defeating Fox and retrieving the OILIX formula, Snake is met by Big Boss while trying to escape. Having lost his equipment and with no weapons at his disposal, Snake is forced to improvise using the only items he can find, a lighter and aerosol can. Fashioning a makeshift flamethrower, Snake defeats Big Boss for the second time. Snake and Holly escape together, and they deliver the OILIX formula to Campbell.


After the release of the NES version of Metal Gear in North America, Konami commissioned the development of a sequel for the NES, Snake's Revenge (a game made specifically with the American market in mind), without the consent of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima.

According to Kojima's account of the events, he did not have any plans to design a Metal Gear sequel at the time and was unaware that a sequel was being produced until he became acquainted with a member of the Snake's Revenge development team on a train ride in Tokyo. Kojima was then informed about the development of Snake's Revenge and was told "it's not the authentic Snake, so please create a new Snake game of your own." After being given the go-ahead by his bosses at Konami, he began developing Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake with the MSX division of Konami. Metal Gear 2 serves as a follow-up to the original Metal Gear, ignoring the events of Snake's Revenge (which was unreleased in Japan), and every canonical Metal Gear title released afterward acknowledge only the events of Metal Gear 2, relegating Snake's Revenge to an apocryphal status.

Release history

Snake's character design in the original MSX2 version (left) and in the re-released version (right).

Unlike the first game, which had an English version produced for the European market, the MSX2 version of Metal Gear 2 was never officially released outside Japan (a fan translation was produced though). The original Metal Gear Solid includes plot summaries of the first two MSX2 games which are accessible in the Special mode under "Previous Operations".

A version of Metal Gear 2 for mobile phones was released in Japan on October 1, 2004 for the i-mode, EZweb and Vodafone services prior to the release of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. This was the first time the game was ported to another platform since its original release for the MSX2 in 1990. In 2005, Konami released an expanded edition of Metal Gear Solid 3 subtitled Subsistence, which included, among other extras, remade versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2. The release of Subsistence in North America and the PAL region marked the first time Metal Gear 2 received official English and other languages localizations for the international market.

The re-releases feature several subtle differences between them and the original MSX2 version. The biggest change was in the character portraits, which now features new artwork drawn in a style similar to Yoji Shinkawa's character designs in the later Metal Gear Solid games instead of the realistic style used in the MSX2 version. Numerous characters were renamed as well, notably Natasha Marcova became Gustava Heffner, Yozev Norden became Johan Jacobsen, and Dr. Petrovich Madnar became Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar. Nearly all the bosses were renamed as well. The re-releases also feature two selectable difficulty settings ("Original" and "Easy"), a bonus Boss Survival mode and an infinite bandana that provides Snake with unlimited ammo when equipped.

The PlayStation 2 version, much like the MSX2 original, requires the player to use the instruction manual for reference to solve certain puzzles (such as deciphering Tap Codes or learning a certain frequency number). Because the North American version only came with a condensed manual that did not include the information the game asks for, Konami posted the solutions to those puzzles in a FAQ page on their official website.[5]

Metal Gear 2 was released for the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on March 30, 2010. The Virtual Console version, though based on the original MSX2 game, features the same revised character designs from previous re-releases.[6]


Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has received near universal critical acclaim by retro game reviewers. According to Paul Soth of GameSpy, the game surpassed its predecessor Metal Gear in every way. In addition to praising the gameplay, he also praised the game's "gripping, well written storyline" for its "rich characterization" and its "same quality of storytelling that made MGS so compelling." He concluded that players will not be disappointed by "the great gameplay and story," and that it remains "one of the best 8 bit games ever made."[2] The game system of its sequel Metal Gear Solid, despite its transition to 3D, would remain largely similar to its 2D predecessor Metal Gear 2.[4] As such, Retro Gamer regards Metal Gear 2 to be "as close as anyone can get to playing Metal Gear Solid in 2D" and also regards it as being superior to the more recent Game Boy Color version of Metal Gear Solid released a decade later in 2000.[3]

Game Informer was more critical of the game, however, giving it a 7 out of 10. They wrote that in order to reach the most pivotal moments in the game's story, "you must endure some of the most ridiculous situations Solid Snake has ever seen," and that "the game's focus on constant backtracking and keycard acquisition makes it too repetitive." They concluded that "only diehard fans will find the experience rewarding" and that the best way to play the game is through the bonus disc of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence.[7]


Arranged music based on Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake were used for the VR Training disc in Metal Gear Solid: Integral (which was released in North America as Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions). Additionally, Integral features two hidden tunes based on Metal Gear 2 available via a secret codec frequency in the main game. One is an arranged version of the "Theme of Solid Snake" (accessed from frequency 140.66), while the other is an arrangement of "Zanzibar Breeze." The "Theme of Solid Snake" also made an appearance in Nintendo's crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Shadow Moses Island stage.


External links

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