Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Snake's Revenge (NES)

Snake's Revenge europe title screen
On today's exciting instalment of Super Adventures, I'm taking a brief look at Snake's Revenge, the initial apocryphal sequel to Metal Gear, released only on the NES. Despite being developed by a different team, it apparently helped kick off the proper Metal Gear franchise by inspiring the original developer, Hideo Kojima, to make a return to the series and create his own sequel to wipe this one from the canon.

In fact I get the impression that this one isn't very well liked by anyone, and it's got me curious why.

Metal Gear 1 VRC-4 schematic
Metal Gear 1 may be a 200 ton walking nuclear apocalypse, but look at his tiny legs! There no way can that thing get to 31 MPH without tipping over.

John Turner Nick Myer profile screen
The mission briefing explains that our hero, Solid Snake, is headed to the ENEMY BASE with two other soldiers, because intelligence suggests that they have A WEAPON, which may or may not be the Metal Gear that Snake destroyed 3 years ago. I'm going to guess 'not'... because Snake destroyed it 3 years ago.

Apparently our pilot knows the route, which is good because I still don't even have a clue what country we're in, never mind where we're going. I guess they didn't think it was important to tell me who I'm fighting.

Wow, he's Lt. Solid Snake now. And I always thought that was just a codename. No wonder he pushed himself to look like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger after his parents inflicted that on him. The poor guy must have had some traumatic school years.

Snake's Revenge helicopter
And so our three man elite special forces team immediately splits up and wanders onwards into the general direction of adventure. Poor Snake is the only one who can't disappear into the jungle, so he's got to sneak off down the path instead.

At least they all remembered to bring guns this time. Man that was embarrassing in the first game, when Snake parachuted deep into enemy territory, only to find himself armed with a packet of cigarettes.

Also it seems Lt. Snake's bulked up a bit since his last appearance. He's become a walking block of muscle.

Damn it gets dark quickly this time of year. A screen or two into the level and I suddenly found myself in total darkness, with the only source of illumination being my glowing yellow arms. At least until someone fired off a flare and lit up the whole screen.

I dunno whether it was us or them who set off the flare, but I'm starting to wish they hadn't. Sure it's nice to be able to see, well... anything, but now every soldier in the area is pouring onto the screen to take me out. So much for stealth.

The enemy troops are fast, accurate, and can fire diagonally. Lt. Snake shoots from the hip and can't even hit a man standing directly in front of him. Sure the bullets went on to kill the guy behind him, but that's not the point!

In Metal Gear 1 this is the situation you try to avoid getting into, because Snake is crap in a firefight and will very quickly get his ass handed to him. But they didn't even give me the option of sneaking this time around.


LOTS OF RUNNING AWAY LATER.


Nice to see the health rations are still in the game. I was worried they'd turned this into a pure shoot 'em up. And the infinite ration trick from the first game still works. I can keep exiting and returning the screen to collect extra rations. Shame I can only carry three of the things.

OH, I see! The enemies kept pouring on screen because they were in the alert phase. Once I killed enough of them they left me alone. But now it's gone pitch black again, with each screen lit up by three moving searchlights.

So there is stealth, it's just a different kind of stealth. I'm staying out the light instead of staying out of the enemy's line of sight. It sounds like a reasonable idea, but you've seen what these screens are like, they've got bushes everywhere. Half the time when I try to dodge a beam I end up throwing Lt. Snake face first into a tree instead. I get spotted, the sky lights back up, and it's alert time again.


A BIT OF WANDERING BLINDLY THROUGH THE DARKNESS LATER.


Awesome, I've found the door. But how the fuck do I get inside?

In Metal Gear, the card key was hidden inside one of the trucks, but they just seem to be decoration in this game.

Snake's Revenge radio screen
I tried radioing everyone on my contact list, but got no reply. You can't ignore me you bastards, I'm team leader!

Well now what do I do?

Oh that's awesome, they put this searchlight at the edge of the screen, so that I can't help but trigger it just by coming here. Still, I guess they have to have lights near the exits or else I'd have no idea there even was a way out up there.

Oh look, now that the lights are on I can see that there's an exit on the left of the screen too. Damn, I should just leave this in alert mode all the time. Trying to navigate a maze is bad enough, but trying to find your way around a maze when you can't even see the walls is just... frustrating.


LATER.


Oh now someone's talking to me. They must have gotten bored waiting for me to find my own way inside.

Okay now I know that I have to get back to the main gate and hide.

Right, it took me a while but I've successfully found my way back to the main door. But now I don't know where to hide. Crap.


MUCH LATER.


I just looked up a bloody map online in the end. Turns out that there was a second main gate at the end of another path. And then I had to look up how to hide there because I fucked that up too...

But that's all in the past now. My friend has turned himself in to give me a way inside, so I am done with this bloody jungle level forever!

You know, this is actually a lot like Metal Gear 1 now that I'm inside. Stealth, backtracking, card keys and everything.

I need to observe the enemy patrol routes, then choose my moment to either slip past, or stab them in the back. As long as they're not facing directly at me, I'm good.

If I'm caught I have to kill them all to deactivate the alarm or else they'll hound me everywhere I go.

Metal Gear 1 had side rooms containing hostages and equipment, but I never found an officer. Well there's no interrogation button, and I can't just shoot an unarmed man in the back. I don't know what to do now, I guess I just leave him here.

Oh, by the way they left all the fucking around with card keys from the first game in. Every time I come across a locked door I've got to equip every card I've collected in turn until I find the one that opens it. There's no markings on the door to tell you what access level you need. I have no idea why didn't didn't just make it so that an access card can open every door with a lower security level.

Oh fuck, another poison gas room like in the first game? Actually I think it's just steam jets, but the effect's the same. I'm gonna grab that jetpack thing then make a run for it.

Snake's Revenge equipment select screen
Oh, it was just an oxygen tank. Well I grabbed it, but it cost me my final ration. I suppose I could always backtrack through the jungle, past all those searchlights, and restock. But I'm not.

A surveillance camera?!?!?! You know I can't even be bothered to figure out how I get past that one on the right without being seen, so I'm just going to set off the alarm and make a run for it.


A ROOM OR SO LATER.


And now the game is a side scrolling platformer. Can't really say I saw that coming.

Unfortunately the change of perspective hasn't made Lt. Snake any more formidable in combat. Once the alarm went off I was gunned down in seconds.

Fortunately the game put a checkpoint just before this tunnel, so I've got infinite attempts at trying to make it though. Shame they didn't think of putting rations nearby, or oxygen for that matter. I've burned through almost half a tank just by crawling under some mines.

Oh you've got to be shitting me. Unless there's something I'm not getting here, it's impossible to make it through there without running out of air. GAME OVER.


SOME BACKTRACKING LATER.


I backtracked all the way to the oxygen tank room to grab a couple more, but it seems that I can only carry the one, so that was a bloody waste of time. I lost a chunk of health in the process as well. Fortunately the enemies in room immediately before the side scrolling section occasionally drop rations and ammo.

Very occassionally.


THREE MINUTES OF PUNCHING THE SAME TWO ENEMIES OVER AND OVER LATER.


Hey, I can stealth through the side scrolling level too. Enemies can't see me when I'm below their eye-line, so I can sneak close enough to stab. Maybe I actually have a hope of getting to the end this time.


AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TUNNEL.


Right, I've refilled my health, and I've equipped a bloody machine gun. I don't care what's in the next room, there's no way it's going to stop me from getting to the next checkpoint. Not after the trouble I had getting here.

Holy shit, it's a boss battle against a swarm of American footballers! My bullets, they do nothing! This ended so fast, and I couldn't even take out a single one of them. Very different from the first boss in Metal Gear, which I took out pretty effortlessly.

Well as much as I'd love to struggle all the way back through the platformer section a few more times to see all the ways I can get instantly stomped by a squad of steel quarterbacks, my patience has totally run dry. So I'm ending this here.

Snake's Revenge password screen
Don't forget the password he says, like there's any chance a normal human could remember that.


Honestly, this game felt like more of Metal Gear 1 to me, except more difficult. Granted I didn't play much of either game, so I have no clue how each will develop, but I was expecting this to be a dumb shoot 'em up action game, and it really hasn't been so far.

One thing it hasn't had though, is Big Boss constantly radioing me to tell me he 'forgot' to mention that the room I just entered would be full of lethal gas or has an electrified floor. Weird conversations with eccentric characters is the true heart of Metal Gear, and I've been missing them.



If you've got anything to say about Snake's Revenge, the Metal Gear franchise, or all that stuff I just wrote, feel free to leave a comment.

8 comments:

  1. I got to play this a month ago on an actual NES at the Eurogamer Expo. Never even managed to make it into the base before I gave up in frustration. The floodlight section is painfully bad and is about as enjoyable as MG1's forest level too.

    From the looks of it I wasn't missing out on anything good though.

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  2. how DARE you even consider playing this

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    1. I'm a loose cannon who gets results because I take risks and don't play by the rules. Sometimes the retro games out there ain't so pretty, but someone's got to deal with them, and it might as well be me.

      Plus I'm going through the games in chronological order, and it was the next one.

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  3. Well, I love Metal Gear Saga, but hell that game was really lame. I would prefer to play Tetris 3D instead.

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    1. Fuck you, this game is awesome!

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    2. "This game is awesome because Fuck you". Welp. Your testimony has totally convinced me and I've had a change of heart: this is an awesome game and only needs idiot-caliber comments to back it up.

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  4. lol at all these people bashing Snake's Revenge and whining about the difficulty. It's a pretty good game and not that hard by NES standards. It's easy to pass the jungle stage with no alerts if you memorize the patterns of the gyrocopters and searchlights, plus you can get more rations and ammo by punching enemy guards to death in stealth mode.

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    1. A few people getting a kick out of becoming good at a dung heap of a game does not make it a good game. Most of its difficulty comes from unbalanced difficulty, stupid ideas and inconsistencies. Likewise, coming up with a strategy to get past a certain point doesn't suddenly redeem the game and fix the flaws.

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Semi-Random Game Box