Saturday, March 18, 2023
Now is a good time for those who shy from broad daylight. Silent Hill is coming back, with its concrete-coloured fogs. This week, it looks as if we might be getting a new Castlevania, with interest in the series sharpening like a thirst, thanks to the Dead Cells crossover DLC. A trademark has also been registered for something called “Project Zircon” – the zircon being a collectible item in numerous Castlevania games, most notably in Symphony of the Night. The begetter of both series – and thus the celebrated bringer of gloom – is Konami, which, like a recumbent Dracula, is gradually returning to health. But there is one more cherished Konami son, of whom we are yet to hear anything solid. Where is Snake? And what should we reasonably hunger for, as fans of Metal Gear?
Well, there are whispers, naturally. Back in 2021, a report surfaced that multiple Metal Gears were grinding away behind closed doors. The most enticing of these is a remake of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, one of the more cherished games in the series. Rumours persist, too, of a reimagining of Metal Gear Solid, an exclusive to the PlayStation 5. The series’ creator, Hideo Kojima, has said that he would like to see that game remade. It was already remade once, for the GameCube, as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, in which some of its mechanics were re-wrangled; there was a first-person view, and the cutscenes were re-styled – and, some would argue, milked of their original potency. Still, maybe there is room for Konami to take another swing. Now is the season of the remake, with Resident Evil 4 bearing down upon us.
At the risk of sounding greedy or blasphemous, one question we might ask is: Do we dare to want more? Should it be some cause for concern that this year’s most celebrated games have been newly rendered versions of Dead Space, Metroid Prime, and Resident Evil 4? With Silent Hill 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Splinter Cell on the way, might it be reasonable to ask for something, you know, new? One problem that Konami may have with a fresh Metal Gear is the absence of its creator. Kojima acrimoniously parted ways with the company, after finishing work on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Unfortunately, Konami’s efforts to deliver Metal Gear without him have not been met warmly. Hence, perhaps, the urge to remake, rather than to venture into the unknown, and therefore to avoid trampling on the toes of Kojima with a vision that may stray from his.
Konami doesn’t have this problem to quite the same degree with its other franchises. True, Castlevania and Silent Hill have both been stamped by the strange hands of their creators. Koji Igarashi, who made Symphony of the Night, specialised in a particular configuration of mechanics. After parting ways with Konami, he went on to make Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a Castlevania in all but name, by launching it on kickstarter – where he posed atop a throne and glugged something dark from a glass. Nevertheless, Castlevania has thrived without Igarashi, as those who loved Lords of Shadow will attest. (Though, in trying to pin down that game’s allure, they may point to Kojima’s involvement.)
Meanwhile, the retread of Silent Hill 2, though being developed by Bloober Team, is graced with input from some members of its original studio, Team Silent. Masahiro Ito, whose nightmare-rubbed creature designs gave the original so much of its contorted power, is taking part. Plus, Akira Yamaoka, whose music made it sound as though your PlayStation 2 were suffering from sleep terrors, and would start coughing up mist from its fan vents at any moment, is going to contribute. Presumably, Bloober Team hopes that the remake, in being pained by familiar phantoms, will convince as an authentic article. We will see. When it comes to Metal Gear, however, Kojima is unlikely to return. What else, beside revisiting old and well-trampled ground, can Konami do?
Could I enter a plea for something that may seem a little drastic? Reboot the thing. Don’t worry about picking up the story of Big Boss or Solid Snake and continuing its knotted progress. Go for something akin to DmC: Devil May Cry, which took the tune of the previous games and rescored it. There we found Dante to be petulant, brash, and brunette; Virgil had his villainy pruned back and, just for the hell of it, sported a fedora; while the baddie of the series, Mundus, was recast as a bloated businessman. Similarly, the way to kick-start Metal Gear is surely to do away with the past. Imitating Kojima is not only a thankless strategy but one doomed, by definition, to fail. Why not carve out something fresh? Rather than getting Yoji Shinkawa – Kojima’s longtime collaborating artist, responsible for the sinewy sketches that have given life to the series’ characters – go for Ashley Wood, the comic-book illustrator who scratched out the cutscenes for Portable Ops and Peace Walker. Imagine a whole game where Snake resembled an artful outpouring of biro.
In any event, no matter what Konami does, someone is destined to be unhappy with the result. Personally, I am hoping that the company goes for a similar approach to the one it has taken with Silent Hill: casting a wide net, recruiting several developers to the cause, each of which is bound to produce something unique. If a remake of Snake Eater is on the cards, so be it. But let’s also have Roll7 rumble out Solid Snake’s SkatEspionage; have Bithell Games make Campbell Was Alone; and let Coffee Stain Studios bring us the grouchy Ocelot Simulator. Go for a wide spread, fan the hammer, and hope for a hit!
Saturday, March 18, 2023 @ 12:34 PM
Saturday, March 18, 2023 @ 02:55 PM
Sunday, March 19, 2023 @ 01:20 PM
Sunday, March 19, 2023 @ 07:38 PM
Monday, March 20, 2023 @ 06:59 AM