The man who created the Metal Gear series and placed Konami on the map time and again for 30 years is considered a genius and a video game auteur. Or a batshit-insane producer and director who seriously needs an editor who can decipher his gibberish. It really depends on who you ask.
Kojima has his huge slew of fanboys, critics, and detractors, and it’s easy to see why: his work is polarizing and mesmerizing at the same time.
Sure, his work and his methods can be divisive and pandering among critics and supporters, but you cannot deny the results and their entertainment value. If you want to look for meta-commentary on society through the medium of games, you’re better off playing indie games like Papers, Please. But in terms of these messages being entertaining and baffling at the same time while being delivered with a triple-A Hollywood-style presentation, look no further than the man’s legacy and past works.
Which is also an endorsing reminder that he tried time and again to enter the movie industry but failed. So he might as well make it big as a game director with movie sensibilities and some knowhow.
At the very least, his stories and games are anything but boring. Here are our favourite and not-so-favourite things about Kojima’s work.
1) He invented the stealth genre.
“Limitation breeds innovation.” If that isn’t a Kojima quote, it pretty much should be.
Were it not for the limited scrolling capabilities of the MSX2 console back in 1987, Hideo Kojima and his team wouldn’t have used these constraints to create the first-ever stealth action game in an environment filled with run-and-gun shoot-em-ups.
And if it wasn’t for the PlayStation 1’s “3D polygons only” mandate tech-wise, we wouldn’t be getting that glorious machinima look in the gangbuster-selling killer app Metal Gear Solid in late 1998. Games like the Syphon Filter and Splinter Cell series wouldn’t have existed were it not for the first few Metal Gear games and their creation under production pressure and environment.
2) He ripped off Blade Runner & made it anime.
…and somehow that ended up a lot more entertaining than it should be. Maybe it’s the gore that shocked us back in 1994. Maybe it’s the in-depth English voice acting. Maybe it’s how perverted our main character Gillian is, or how blatant the game’s marketing is with its mature content involving an orange-haired stripper.
Regardless, the game proved that Kojima’s writing and designing bore idea-laden fruits beyond Metal Gear, as well as still have a hard-on for Hollywood-style storytelling. Thankfully his eccentricities produced a rather nice William Gibson tribute along with a glorious follow-up.
3) That one time we thought we’d be playing as Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2.
Perhaps the most elaborate troll move from a video game director since forever, Hideo Kojima purposely edited a particular Metal Gear Solid 2 trailer before launch to give a false impression that Solid Snake will be playable.
Little did we know that we’ll be in the shoes of one Raiden for the entirety of MGS2. I’m sure there are people still bitter about it to this day, but to us, at least Raiden evolved from a greenhorn to a badass cyborg ninja.
4) Kojima’s naming conventions for characters.
You thought Solid Snake and Liquid Ocelot were bad? Try to remember all of Metal Gear’s character names since the MSX days.
We’ll remind you: Shotmaker, Machinegun Kid, Dirty Duck, Fire Trooper, Jungle Evil, Black Ninja, Running Man, Night Fright, Psycho Mantis, Decoy Octopus, Fatman, Solidus Snake, Hot Coldman, Laughing Octopus.
If you told us these were rejected Mega Man robot master names, we would have believed you.
5) He greenlit a fight that can be won by waiting for the opponent to die of old age.
We refer to, of course, the infamous The End sniper battle in Metal Gear Solid 3. And you can adjust your PS2 clock to speed up time so he croaks quick.
We’ll have to admit: that is pretty damn clever. Alongside the Psycho Mantis memory card-reading shenanigans and the clever use of a lighter and an aerosol can in Metal Gear 2’s climax, Kojima sure can make seemingly-innocuous boss fights all the more entertaining.
While we’re on boss battles, how can you not be impressed with how epic MGS3‘s final fight was?
6) In that same sequel, he made sure the game’s acapella version theme song plays while you’re climbing a ladder for two minutes.
Sung by the lovely Donna Burke. And holy crap it was awesome.
7) He trusted PlatinumGames to deliver us the best final boss fight in video game history.
Not only did Hideo Kojima entrusted PlatinumGames and producer Atsushi Inaba to create Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the best Metal Gear spin-off since forever, but also the final battle between superninja Raiden, Metal Gear EXCELSUS, and an American senator.
Throughout this day, we have yet to find a climactic equivalent that rivals this moment; Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Bayonetta’s final fight comes close. It is that good, and we should give credit to Kojima for allowing this to happen.
8) His Take On Silent Hill. Sorta…
Short-lived as it was, the P.T. demo was a godsend that blindsided many gamers. It’s unnerving, it’s creepy, it’s atmospheric, and it’s a great tease to what could have been.
Never mind the fact that the original Silent Hill team has disbanded eons ago and he had to take up the mantle, but it’s sad that we will never see a full-fledged Silent Hill game with a different creator.
9) He made up The Quiet’s backstory, which is…urm…
Quiet, the game’s sniper buddy you recruit in Metal Gear Solid V, dresses skimpily because she breathes through her skin. So if she wore more clothes it would literally suffocate her. This is because the parasites (the game’s “nanomachines”) made her that way, and also render her speechless.
Sure, whatever you say to justify you having her take showers in a male gazing fashion, guys.
10) His shameless & forceful pop-culture referencing still lives on, for better or for worst.
From the Metal Gear cover portraying Snake as Michael Biehn to putting in Japanese gravure models into Metal Gear Solid 3, Kojima is no stranger in placing his stamp and sensibilities in his works and attempts to justify it. A number of the game’s codec calls revolve around Kojima’s thoughts on particular fads in the game’s era or just political views told through in-game dialogue.
We’re not sure if it’s his way of saying “hey fans, please get some culture outside of video games with these nods to things I like”, or some elaborate way to advertise things to us in-game, or it’s just Kojima misusing his platform.
I mean, imagine if he uses his auteur status to make us believe that Monster energy drinks will help in a main character’s mission to reconnect society.