An open letter to Hideo Kojima

Written by: Michael Spada

If I’m going to play another game as Solid Snake, it damn well better be a retirement home simulator.

Dear Mr. Kojima,

I think it’s pretty obvious that you are definitely going to read this open letter. And I think it’s even more obvious that, after reading it, the mad ramblings of a crazed Metal Gear fan who isn’t particularly smart will completely change your mind and alter the future of your productions. With this in mind, please forgive me if I come off as a bit harsh, as I love everything you’ve ever touched.

While speculation has been rampant since the day MGS4 came out, and you’ve heavily implied that Metal Gear Solid 5 is something you definitely want happening as soon as you can figure out what to do, you finally confirmed the game’s existence to IG Magazine fairly recently. And you’ve confirmed that it will feature Solid Snake, a man who, by all accounts, should be dead. Come on, HidHid, put away the teat; there is no need to milk this bad boy any further.

Hideo Kojima and Big Boss

Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima with a statue of Naked Snake

From a business standpoint, of course it makes sense. The Metal Gear Solid series is a best-seller, with each entry winning numerous awards and changing the way stories are told in videogames. MGS4 was the sole reason many people bought the then-struggling PS3 back in 2008. Considering you are as much a businessman as you are creative genius, a fifth entry in the main series makes perfect sense.

But you are still a creative genius as much as you are a businessman, and from that side of the equation, this is something that should not happen.

I have no problem with the Metal Gear franchise continuing, but not the main series. Not the main, super-important plot with Solid Snake and Otacon and the Patriots and all the wonderful characters and events that shaped gaming culture for over a decade. Make all the side-games and remakes you’d like. Metal Gear Rising looks like good fun and shouldn’t impact the legacy you’ve crafted. A remake of the original MSX Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake would also be warmly welcomed. But continuing the story of Solid Snake? Absolutely not.

Metal Gear Solid 4 did an exceptional job of something game franchises rarely do even well – it finished the story. It fully, wholly completed the entire story of the Metal Gear Solid saga. The Patriots are gone. Zero is dead. Big Boss is dead. For a third time. Solid Snake has a few months left to live and is going to finish his life in peace. The amount of closure MGS4 brings is unbelievably satisfying. What few questions are left unanswered are both unimportant and far too nitpicky to justify an entire game.

Old Snake putting a gun in his mouth.

Do it, Snake. Do it so Kojima can’t be tempted to whore you out again!

If you choose to make Metal Gear Solid 5 and tell yet another story of Big Boss, well, you’ll be beating a dead horse. Portable Ops and Peace Walker told two good but wholly unnecessary stories of Big Boss in the period between Metal Gear Solid 3 and Metal Gear for the MSX/NES. Those are great games, portable or not. But whatever is left that we REALLY need to know about Big Boss could only be properly told in remakes of the original two titles. Which would be nice, but again, isn’t entirely necessary. Even the rumored project focusing on The Boss and the Cobra Unit during World War II is a story we don’t really need to be told. Sure, it’d be cool, but why risk further muddying up the canon?

Hideo, you dashing devil, you’ve given the games industry so many bright ideas and have paved the way for so many developers and visionaries. You revolutionized stealth gameplay. You redefined how stories can be told in games. You gave us characters and moments that we will absolutely never forget. You’ve made us feel emotions we never thought games could make us feel. And you are one of the very, very few game designers that gave closure to a series at just the right time.

Do the games industry one more massive favor and let Metal Gear Solid, like its protagonist, live the rest of its life in quiet solitude. The MGS games will never be forgotten, and adding new titles to the series that aren’t necessary will only do damage to its great legacy, not broaden it. In an industry where franchises live forever, where there are multiple series of the same franchise and sequels that just never stop, lead the way one more time and show the world what it’s like to just end it. The world won’t get mad at you.

I’m glad we had this talk, Hideo. I’m glad you definitely listened to me and read all these points I’ve made that no one has ever made before ever. I’m glad my words have convinced you to move on to something new and exciting, before people accuse you of being senile at your tender young age.

Can’t wait for the sleepover next weekend. Text me when you get out of work and we’ll figure out what time to meet up.

Michael Spada

Author: Michael Spada

Michael Spada is a gentleman who plays videogames and then writes about them on the internet. Solid Snake is his hero, but he'd just as quickly settle down with CM Punk. You can follow him on Twitter if you'd like.

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Responses to An open letter to Hideo Kojima

  1. I’m sorry, but I can’t just stand by and listen to this. First of all, there have only been 4 Metal Gear Solid games, and Solid Snake has only been the protagonist in 2 of them. (MGS- Solid Snake, MGS2- Raiden, MGS3- Big Boss, MGS4- Solid Snake) How is this milking a character? The guy has only been the protagonist for half the MGS games. And even if you include the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, that only makes 4 games. 4 games in 25 years. How can you say this character is being milked? And that fact that you suggest to have another game with Big Boss has the protagonist, I mean seriously? That character has had 3 games in the past 8 years. (MGS3, MGS:PO, MGS:PW) That would be closer to milking then what kojima is doing.
    Second, no one said these games had to be in chronological order. ( In case you didn’t notice MGS3 takes place in the 60’s) Also, no one said this game was going to take place after MGS4. There is at least 15 years between MG1 and MGS4. You could easily have a game take place in between MG2 and MGS, MGS and MGS2, or MGS2 and MGS4.
    Last off all, if you were a true MGS fan, you would have written an article called “I trust you Kojima, and you probably know what’s best.” I mean, lets think for a second. The guy has been making video games for 25 years. 25. As in a quarter of a century. As in ever since most of his current fans were in diapers. As in probably before you became a journalist, finished college, or even high school. I’m pretty sure the guy knows what he’s doing. Oh and by the way, ever game he has made has been great. At this point I think we should be giving him a little more credit. So you know what, let him make a game with Solid Snake. Let him do whatever he wants with it. If Snake is in a wheel chair trying to escape from a retirement home run nurse cyborgs under control by Neo-Patriots in Florida, and now uses a pipe. I say go for it.

  2. Michael SpadaNo Gravatar

    Max! Thank you for being a grownup and arguing a point on the internet without resorting to insults and profanity. Good man.

    I think the second you use a character beyond where they’re needed, it’s milking them. I don’t doubt for a second that any MGS5 Kojima makes, whether it’s a massive retcon on Snake’s aging and disease or a game based on The Boss or Big Boss, that it would be excellent. Of course it would. But 4 ended so perfectly, we don’t need anything else. BUT I feel if there’s any character to squeeze a TINY bit of life out of, it’s Big Boss over Snake — if only because we never got to see things like his struggle with Zero. However, the whole damn thing needs to be shut out. Whatever happens with Raiden in Rising needs to be HIS own thing, separate from the Patriots and everything else.

    Either way! Being a true fan is not blind devotion, it’s wanting the absolute best. With Snake’s story being over and basically everyone being dead and/or at peace, it’s this point more than any where Kojima should seriously consider a new avenue. He’s a brilliant man, I’d hate for him to be tethered exclusively to Metal Gear for the rest of his career.

  3. Hi, Michael. I read your opinions, but you did not mention a good reason for shutting the [canon] Metal Gear series down. I don’t say it because everyone knows that another Metal Gear Solid is under development: About two years before the official announcement of Metal Gear Solid 5, I was like “Why there’s no story about Big Boss around 80’s?” That was like a black hole and all other decades contained at least one canon story of the series. MGS3: Snake Eater (60’s), MGS: Portable Ops & Peace Walker (70’s), … (80’s), Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (90’s), MGS1&2 and MGS4 in first and second decades of 21th century, respectively. You mentioned Portable Ops & Peace Walker as “wholly unnecessary stories of Big Boss”, I don’t know, but maybe you described them this way because you did not get their plots right.
    …And one more thing! It’s about Solid Snake. If he will have a role in MGS5, he’s only gonna be portraited as a child. He was born in early 70’s and at least %70+ of Metal Gear fans would love to see his childhood and that doesn’t absolutely “milk” a little baby boy.
    I believe that Kojima does not make video games for money, fame, awards, etc. At least he doesn’t think about these things as his most important aims. He does make perfect video games and obviously it causes getting money, fame, awards, etc.
    But I agree with you on some cases like that weird game about The Boss and her Cobra Unit @ World War II. Thank God, it was canceled. Allegedly, at least.
    However it would be a great experience for people to play a new Metal Gear Solid running on a brand new technology like Fox Engine.

  4. I agree with much of what you are saying Michael, though I do think there’s life in the Big Boss franchise yet. Metal Gear Solid 4 afforded us absolute closure on Solid Snake’s story, and producing a storyline that extends his legacy beyond anything other than returning to Alaska to race huskies would be entirely unnecessary and entirely lamentable in my opinion. Of course, as Max pointed out, in Hideo we trust, and so if he were to extend the series past the collapse of the Patriots then I will be the one of the first to pre-order, but I just can’t see, in my admittedly limited capacity, how this could possibly done without jeopardising what many, including myself, believe to be the greatest story told in gaming, possibly beyond.

    Now on the other hand, I would quite happily see another entry into the Big Boss franchise. I’m currently playing through Snake Eater HD and can’t tell you how much I enjoy this alternate Cold War universe that Hideo has created and filled with so many fascinating characters. I have yet to play Peace Walker, which will begin as soon as Ocelot finishes his traditional post-credits correspondance, so I am unsure how it finishes, but I would love to see another game in this canon either starring Big Boss or with him being the focus, maybe through a story of how Gray Fox defected to him (this may be explained in PW so my apologies if my ignorance precedes me). Or, like you said Michael, the possibility of a remake of the first two Metal Gear games would be just as welcome.

    I honestly think that with this rich and complex world Kojima has created that he could literally pick a character at random and base an entire game around his/her exploits and his/her intrinsic links to the Big Boss/Solid Snake over-arching storyline. Whatever Kojima decides, I will be a day-one buyer. I just hope it doesn’t come at the cost of the series’ integrity, which, in my view, could only happen by extending Snake’s storyline beyond MGS4.

  5. Both of you gentlement make very interesting points regarding the Metal Gear franchise. I am of the opinion that the Metal Gear Solid series should continue in any way Kojima sees fit. He has always been brilliant with his stories and his gameplay in all of his games. My only major concern is simply this…is he letting his new position at Konami affect his judgement when it comes to making another Metal Gear game. Konami, like many other companies in the video game industy, have taken a toll financially due to the economy, etc. Not many studios have a guaranteed, profitable, and critically received franchise to lean towards for (lack of a better term) easy money. Konami has that with Metal Gear. I’d be curious if Konami is putting the pressure on Kojima to make another profitable game.

    In regards to another Metal Gear game featuring Solid Snake, I hope it has a smaller, more personal narrative. Aside from the original MGS, I am of the opinion that MGS 3 and Peace Walker are the best Metal Gear games in regards to story. They focused on a personal issue of Naked Snake/Big Boss that seemed far more effective than the usual “the world is at peril” scenario that MGS 2 and 4 did. I would love a more personal story regarding Solid Snake rather than Big Boss. One scenario I’d be curious about is around the time Snake receives the symptoms of Werner syndrome. He was calm about it in MGS 4. What about before. Have him go through the 5 stages of death and how it directly affects his friendship with Otacon, and maybe their friendship goes through a rough patch. We know how it will end, but how it gets there is the more interesting aspect. Also, to add on to it, after hearing about the anti Metal Gear organization Philanthropy in MGS 2, by the time MGS 4 comes out we never hear about it again. Did it shut down? Did it go rogue and turn more into a terrorist group that Snake and Otacon didn’t want to be a part of? I’d be curious about that.

    I’m simply saying at the end when it comes to story you can still create a Metal Gear story featuring Solid Snake without affecting or cheapening his ending in Metal Gear Solid 4.

  6. I personally think he does need to come full circle and remake the two MSX games. But the reason he won’t is because once Zanzibar Land is done then the series is OVER. And he doesn’t ‘t seem to want to end the franchise just yet.

    He is a confusing man to follow though. First he unleashes MG Ground Zeroes, clearly a Peace Walker sequel. He then says it is a prologue game to MGS5. Meaning Solid Snake will be in that one. But then he says he is looking to do a game with The Boss…you see his insanity?

    Right now, confirmation is simply we will be getting MG Ground Zeroes after Revengeance and it has Big Boss as the main. Strong possibility that he is maybe a 1st chapter playable and the. It switches to a young Solid Snake. Who knows? That could mean MGS5 is the one involving The Boss? Who knows? And he might change his min on a whim.

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