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Crate-O-Games, Metal Gear

Ah, Metal Gear. One of my most beloved franchises thanks to its first NES game. Guns, espionage, maps, giant robots…what’s not to love? This was the first NES game I completed outside of Super Mario Bros., but it wasn’t without some help. And believe me, you needed help with this game.

If it looks cool, it must be cool, right?

Back in the day (and maybe still), there were often video game “conventions” at local hotels and convention centers. It was really just a giant video game yard sale, not unlike the CORGS Con held nowadays, only then it wasn’t retro.I went to one with my dad on a weekend and I was excited. Not only was it a day out with dad, but it involved video games…and I knew I’d be able to get him to buy me a new game.

As mentioned before, NES games were pretty much buy-before-you-play, but with a cool looking army guy with a big gun on the cover plus army action on the back…and lets just call it like it is, “Metal Gear” is a sweet game title. So I conned my father into the purchase and that normally would have been enough, but I didn’t stop there. At this particular gathering of gamers, there was a card table in the corner stacked with game manuals and maps.

What's not cool about this art? Nothing, that's what.
What's not cool about this art? Nothing, that's what.

Free video game stuff? Awesome.

I remember being kind of confused about this offering because I wasn’t sure if they were free or what. Others were grabbing manuals and leaving so I figured it was free and grabbed what I could. It just so happened I manage to find the Metal Gear game manual and better yet, a complete map! I don’t know if the map originally came with the game or not, but I grabbed this map and hung on to it with my life. I knew this was the key to the entire game.

It wasn’t cheating

Once I got home I covered the map with contact paper so prevent myself from ruing it with rips, tears, and the inevitable knocked over cup of Kool-Aid. I played Metal Gear seemingly non-stop, map in hand, for days on end. This first Metal Gear game was tough too and took quite a long time. It was my first test of weapons management in any game. You can’t just run-n-gun in Metal Gear, you had to save your ammo for when it mattered.

Not long after I got the game, I was in a book store and found a Metal Gear “Worlds of Power” book. I don’t remember if it was the story of the game or just out right fiction, but it was licensed, came with a trading card, and had “top secret tips” on certain pages that you had to read in the mirror because they were printed backwards. I also remember the cover of the book had the gun removed from the art, which I thought was odd, but whatever.

Metal Gear: The Book
Metal Gear: The Book

The day I finished Metal Gear was a wonderful day. I remember the escape from the ticking time bomb was a little nerve racking. Of course, little did I know there wasn’t anything to do but just go up an elevator. Given the time put into Metal Gear, I felt like a pro. My first game to complete and it was a monster. I finished Metal Gear well before I finished Legend of Zelda.


The start of a wonderful friendship

Of course at the time I had no idea that Metal Gear would be the franchise it is today. Thanks to that one game, I’ve been a Metal Gear fan every since. I love the characters, the setting, the technology…it’s one of the few games where I pay attention to the story. But like many games of that style, it’s not one I would replay a lot. I did try to replay Metal Gear in recent years – without the maps – and it’s crazy hard. So much back tracking and key cards and just wandering around. Without that map I found on a random table in a hotel ballroom, I would have hated Metal Gear.

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One Comment

  1. King Tom King Tom October 25, 2010

    The first time I played MG was shortly after it came out and I rented it for the weekend. Didn’t have a clue what to do outside of the few tips Nintendo Power had on it, and I didn’t get very far.

    A few years later, I got a copy for a few bucks the summer between seventh and eighth grade. Took me a few weeks, but I finally beat it. I was really into the game, but I don’t think I’ve played it since, nor have I played any of the sequels or prequels or anything else in the MG world that’s out there.

    There were a few notable things about this game:
    -Looking back on it, I’m disappointed the actual Metal Gear (that walker thing on the cover) didn’t appear in the game (at least, I think it didn’t).
    -Had to be one of the first and only games (besides Golgo 13) where a pack of cigarettes was an item.
    -Also had to be one of the first games where you were betrayed by your boss at the end. That was a surprise to me.

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