Portable Ops.

Sorry, folks. I know I haven't written in ages, and I am very, very, very sorry I haven't had the time to! I'm working now as a Department Manager and my hours to get online are far and few between.

As you guys are Metal Gear fans, I'm sure you've all heard of the Metal Gear Portable Ops game coming out in December for the Playstation Portable. I have to admit, I'm insanely geared to play this game, it looks great. I just recently saw some of the footage from it, and I like the change of style in it: instead of normal CG cinematics, it's taken on to the approach of the moving comic style, some-what similar to the Metal Gear graphic novels. If you'd like to see some of the footage, you may need a MySpace page to see this particular link, but you can watch a trailer for the game here.

*rubs hands together* Needless to say, I've got my reserve already set up. If you reserve it with GameStop, they're supposed to be receiving a nice Metal Gear Portable Ops face plate cover, from the pictures I saw it looks like it snaps over the front of your PSP, is silver, with the game logo and a semi-sillouette picture of B.B. himself on it. Also, Japan is releasing some special edition versions that come with the PSP itself, which is camo designed, with actual snake skin PSP cases, and the game, as well as probably other lil nifty goodies that everyone else outside the country is more than likely denied. But, maybe a few of us lucky ones will be able to snag one. :)

As always, if anybody wants to add any updates or opinions, or heck anything, feel free to, and sorry again for the lack of updates.

  • Current Music
    'Wake me Up (When September Ends)'~ GreenDay.


Alrighty, now I can't promise this that all GameStops will have this available, but the one I work at got sent Metal Gear Acid2 artwork cells for reserving MGA2. They're really nice art cells if you're interested, just stop in and ask if they have any available with a reserve. Metal Gear Acid2 is set for release 03/22/2006.

A look at the new Metal Gear.
  • Current Music
    May Fortune Smile Upon You


Updates from the MetalGearSolid.com site, there's a radio broadcast now available to listen to through HideoBlogs and ITunes called HIDECHAN! (short for Hideo Channel).

As it says on the link above:

Fans of Kojima Productions and its games may have heard that Mr. Kojima has shifted his focus away from written blogs to an online radio broadcast -- HIDECHAN! (Hideo Channel). Since its debut in December 2005, HIDECHAN! has gained much popularity in Japan. However, this Japanese-only broadcast has limited its reach.

In order to reach out to more listeners, Kojima Productions has prepared an English version of HIDECHAN, now officially deemed The Kojima Productions Report!

Presented in English, The Report will feature Kojima Productions-related news, behind-the-scenes reports, and special guest appearances.

A new session of The Report will be uploaded every Friday.

Follow the link to get yourself set up to listen in.

Also, further down on the updates page, you can also view a trailer for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid Digital Comic. It's based off the comics done by Konami themselves.
  • Current Mood
    restless restless

Angry, or confused, parent?

Ok, so this isn't entirely about Metal Gear, but it is all the same.
Just a joke letter that was in the February issue of GameInformer that a subscriber wrote in regards to the December issue, which featured Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots on the cover.

Plumber Gear Solid

It was a nice surprise to see Luigi on the cover of the December issue, stepping out of the shadow of his elder brother. The new art style is certainly very different, but I'm sure I'll get used to it in time, just as I did with Link. On skimming your lengthly review of "Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time" (p.80), though, I'm disturbed at the dark tone the series is taking. The graphics are breathtaking (especially for the DS!) but the two plumbers should be leaping through candy-colored fantasy worlds, not sulking in the shadows of ruined buildings. And the huge guns! Whatever happened to water cannons or fire-flowers? Finally, the cigarette clearly visable in Luigi's mouth on page 83 is the last straw; I am not letting my two young children near this game! I knew all along that it was a bad idea for Nintendo to let Hideo Kojima produce this installment. He's very talented, but it's clear he simply doesn't understand the lighthearted innocent fun that Mario means to his fans. I know Nintendo needs to innovate and reach out to teen gamers - and I applaud their lending the Donkey Kong franchise to Michel Ancel, whose new game looks excellent - but in this case they've gone too far. What's next? Princess Peach and Daisy jiggling in thong bikinis in Dead Or Alive Serena Beach Volleyball? (Actually, forget that, I would total buy that game.)

Jens Alfke
San Jose, CA

Definetly one of the most obscure letters I've read, but it got a chuckle out of me.

And as far as some actual Metal Gear/Kojima news, Mr. Kojima's blog is still up and running with a few new posts from the start of the year, again found here.

More info as it come available~
  • Current Music
    Watchin' Scrubs. :3

.::Kojima's Reply::.

I'm sure many of you have heard about director (a term I'll use very lightly) Uwe Boll announing off and on for about the past year or so, that he's been wanting to direct 'the' Metal Gear Solid movie. I believe even going so far as saying he's looked over scripts and such, and was wanted by Konami to direct it.

Now, if any of you are familiar with his work, you know he's done the BloodRayne and House of the Dead movies, both of which were huge movie flops.. and, though I haven't tried getting guts enough to see BloodRayne, House of the dead was absolutely gut-wrenching, so I found it surprised that Konami would even try speaking to him about it, or that Mr. Kojima would even want his key character being morally and filmfully vandalized.

Konami's not that insane, right?


About a week ago, it was announced that Uwe Boll felt that he had too much on his plate to take on Metal Gear as his excuse to not doing it now. And, now from the man himself, Mr. Kojima had a little to say on Uwe Boll directing a Metal Gear movie:

"Absolutely not. I don't know why Uwe Boll is even talking about this kind of thing. We never talked to him. It’s impossible we would do a movie with him."

So, rest easy Metal Gear fans. You can sleep well tonight. ;)

And, sorry for lack of updates lately, news has been few and far between this past month.

Though, for those of your wondering, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence is still announced for release in this upcoming March, so far from my systems at work, it looks like there will be two versions: a normal and Limited Edition version. The main difference between the two versions is the Limited Edition version also features the bonus Existence bonus disc, featuring a film-style re-editing of the game's cutscenes as one giant story presentation. Those who pre-ordered Subsistence (LE or standard edition) also received the Metal Gear Saga Vol. 1 bonus DVD. But if you're looking to get all your Metal Gearness, I'd say definetly go for the Limited Edition version, which right now looks like it'll be going for only $10 more than the normal version, which will only contain two discs. Preorder would probably be a good suggestion, too.. just to make sure you get enough copies at your local store if you're serious about getting it.

  • Current Music
    .::D.N.Angel ending theme::.

MGS3: Subsistence & MGA2!

While many releases beef up the original experience by adding a slew of new features to the core game (RE4's jump to PS2, Xbox's Ninja Gaiden Black), it looks like Kojima is trying to set an example by going all-out with MGS3: Subsistence. We know for sure that in Japan Subsistance will come with three discs: "Subsistence," which is the third-person-camera-enhanced version of MGS3: Snake Eater; "Persistence," where you'll find the Metal Gear Online multiplayer mode, plus additional extras (the secret theatre and Metal Gear games); and "Existence," which features all of MGS3's cut scenes edited into a continuous three-hour movie. The Existence disc is for gamers who want to experience MGS3's story without having to, uh, actually play MGS3. At press time, it's still unknown whether the American release will include Existence as well.

We got some hands-on time with the Subsistence disc (enough to get the fight with The Fear), and we're pleased with the new third-person camera. For comparison's sake, you can just hit R3 to toggle between the original bird's-eye view and the new third-person camera. While we always assuemd that the new camera would be pretty cool, we underestimated it's impact.

For one thing, the bird's-eye camera didn't convey the proper scale since, well, it was from a bird's perspective. Parking the camera right behind (or around) Snake makes the game environment more lush and immersive. All of that swaying grass that Snake would hide in looks much taller and feels downright cozy once your view is level with Snake's.

Because you can spin the camera around, situational awareness is much better. Previously, the camera had a very limited range of movement, and you had to make use of either the first-person view or one of several gadgets to find baddies. While you can still do either, it's now pretty easy to just swing the camera around and notice enemies and objects on the horizon instead. For example, in Bolshaya Past Base (the small base with the electrified fence right before the first boss fight with Revolver Ocelot), you can see far enough to notice the parked helicopter way over on the other side. Heck, this almost makes the game easier at points, as you can now see most soldiers before they can see you. However, when you go into buildings (like the Graniny Gorki Labs), putting the camera right around Snake in an enclosed space makes things a bit harder to control, as the wall limit your situational awareness. The bird's-eye view is actually better suited for these situations. But, overall, the camera makes such a significant difference that we cut our playtime off at the Fear so that we can savor the rest of the game later.

Blast from the Past.
For the first time, the "authentic" Japanese versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake will be available in the States. Metal Gear suffered a horrible translation (e.g., "I FEEL ASLEEP!") and some odd changes in it's first trip Stateside, while Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake never came out here. Over in Japan, both games were recently released in cell-phone format, and we're guessing that the enhanced cell-phone versions are the basis for these upcoming U.S. versions. For Metal Gear, the cell-phone version added both new difficulty settings (an easy mode) and Boss Survival mode, which lets you fight all the bosses in succession. Additionally, the famous "infinite bandana" from the MGS series makes an appearance. The cell-phone version of Metal Gear 2 also received the additional difficulty setting and boss modes, as well as tweaked appearances of characters. In the original MSX version, character portrait icons on the radio resembled movie stars, but now these portraits are based on MGS illustrator Yoji Shinkawa's designs. Additionally, the cell-phone version of MG2 has minor gameplay tweaks, such as item icon changes, changes in land-mine usage, and visual indicators that display variances in sound when walking over certain types of terrain. On top of all this, both games will sport a fresh translation that wis more in tune with Kojima's vision.

Rumbling Roses
During our interview with Kojima, we snuck in a query about the Rumble Roses girls in Metal Gear Online:

OPM Why did you decide to add Reiko from Rumble Roses to Subsistence. We know you like putting girls in your games, but why her in particular?
HK Akari Uchida, the producer of Rumble Roses, came to me [one day] and said, "Can we collaborate in some way?" The thing was that...the guys on my team [the MGS3 team in particular] said, "No, we don't want to work with that game." So, it didn't happen, but I always had it in mind that Mr. Uchida wanted to work with the MGS team. So when we were working on the online stuff for Subsistence, I wanted a hidden character, another character that you could control. I thought, "Oh, there's that deal with Mr. Uchida,</i>" so I said, "Why don't we work together now?" and I called him up. Actually, I wanted to go to Mr. Itagaki of Tecmo [first] to use maybe one of the DOA characters, but then [I remembered] the deal with Mr. Uchida that I wouldn't fulfill back then, so I said, "I'll just go to him."

Every character in Metal Gear Online has a special move or ability. For the lovely little Rumble Roses ladies, we hear that they throw a mean suplex..

Raiden Rave

When we talked with Mr. Kojima, we asked him some question about his most controversial character, Raiden:

OPM What is it about Raiden and you nowadays? He's in that [secret theater short] in Subsistence, "Metal Gear Raiden" [Kojima also referred to it as "MGS3: Snake Eraser" at TGS --Ed.], where he appears in this amalgamation of cut-scenes but is screwing everything up, which results in the colonel shouting, "TIME PARADOX!" every time he does so. He's the most severely punished character in that scenario. You never intended for him to be the sourse of such derision, but now that he is, you've picked up the baton and run with it and are clearly enjoying yourself by doing it. When did you decide, "OK, I'm gonna mess with Raiden, too"?
HK The thing is, I don't hate him. I fool around with him because [my team and I] like him; we spent a lot of time on putting him together. But the fans ended up not liking him, and that I can accept. Since I want my fans to enjoy my games [I said to] myself -- who came up with the character -- "Why not fool around with him?" I tried to cast him in some cool role in [Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty], but it just didn't work. That's why now I'll make him the clown in the movies.

OPM And you recast him as Raikov in MGS3. So, for Subsistence, who decided to make Raikov -- atleast in the online portion of Subsistence -- impervious to men's magazines? [A popular tactic in Subsistence multiplayer is throwing down Playboy-style magazines to distract enemies -- Raikov is immune to their alluring effect--Ed.]
HK I decided. [Laughs] The whole thing with Raiden/Raikov in MGS3 is that there are actually people in Japan who like Raiden. There are people who want to play as Snake, but there are also people who want to play as Raiden. But I wasn't going to do the same thing as [in] MGS2, whre you [have] to play with Raiden, because I know [some] fans do not like him. That's why I basically put Raikov in the game, so you could see Raiden, and [why I] also offered the mask, so people who wanted to play as Raiden can have Snake wear the mask.

OPM Since you have this virtual cast of characters, do you foresee bringing Raiden back for MGS4?
HK Raiden is going to be in Metal Gear Solid 4. But it doesn't mean you're going to control Raiden.

OPM Is it the real Raiden who will appear in MGS4, or just a character who looks like him?
HK It is that Raiden, not someone who looks like Raiden. But I'm going to announce here, I'm goin to make [it very] clear, that once you finish playing MGS4, you're going to like Raiden very much.

OPM It's interesting to see how you're putting such effort into salvaging Raiden's reputation. It's like Saving Private Raiden.
HK The thing is, I always knew I was going to do that with Raiden in MGS4 --- That's why I can humiliate him as much as I want to with "Metal Gear Raiden", because I knew that I was going to make people like him after MGS4. Knowing that there's going to be a comeback, I could do whatever I wanted with him in "Metal Gear Raiden".


Metal Gear Ac!d 2

The upcoming Metal Gear Ac!d 2 from Kojima Productions doesn't just feature polished visuals (in the form of neon-glowing, cartoony graphics)-- the turn-based tactical card game also features several tweaks based on user input on the other all-new gameplay elements. An intriguing new "real-time" aspect brings a new level of tension to sneaking around security cameras and guards--if they see you before your turn ends, you're screwed; the baddies will now actively track and follow you as a result, and you can't redo your move (before even if you were spotted, as long as you ended your turn in a hiding place, the enemy basically didn't see you). Hey, just be more cautious next time.

Ac!d 2 also deals out more than twice as many cards as it's predecessor during the course of the game; some massively impact gameplay while others are just there for fun. As you progress, you'll be able to upgrade cards, which lets you specialize in favorite tactics and customze your play style. Load up on the big guns and tough body armor to blast your way through a level, or deal yourself a stack of trap and support cards to take a stealthier approach. Certain cards will transform into more-powerful cards as you upgrade them, but be aware that you'll often trade power for speed or vice versa. Equipment slots on the playable characters allow them to wear armor or automatically counterstrike when attacked (you're going to be grateful for that; trust us).

The environments also play a part in the mission levels to an unprecedented degree, posing new challenges for the player. One mission takes place in a train yard, with trains going by every few turns. It's tough enough dealing with your opponents, but don't let them distract you too much -- if you happen to get caught on the tracks while a train goes by, it's curtain for Snake.

The game also has a whole new mode that will appeal to fans of the MGS series: a single-player "Arena Mode" that puts Snake against bosses from the past games, such as Revolver Ocelot (both young and old) and Vamp (from MGS2). But don't go into these battles unprepared, because these guys are tough. Winning will earn you special cards.

Finally, there's the new scope peripheral that ships with every copy, tentatively called "Solid Eye" a device that warrants a little explanation. It's basically like a pair of stand-alone 3D glasses that can be mounted on top of the PSP for "Theater Mode." With it, you'll be able to watch the movies that come with the game, including the eight-minute MGS4 trailer. Oh, and there are (3D!) girlie magazines in the game, too -- this time in the form of short movies that you can unlock with various cards. You see, Snake is a lover as well as a fighter.

[Official U.S. PlayStation Magazein - Issue 101.]
Too much typing for one night.. my eyes are fried.
  • Current Music
    .::Under Pressure~ Queen/David Bowie::.

'In a Lonely Place'

HYPE_OPM Interview.

Inside the mind of the man behind Metal Gear.

The date: December 1, 2005; the place: the Roppongi district of Tokyo, whre foreigners mingle with natives shuttling to and fro amidst the tumult and chaos of restaurants, bars, electronics shops, hostess clubs, and upscale boutiques that define the area. The setting on this brisk and sunny day was Hideo Kojima's residence in the Mori Building, ensconced within the greater Roppongi Hills complex, which houses - among other things - Kojima's worldwide headquarters. The reason for our meeting: to learn more about the man who made Metal Gear solid (his reference to bringing the series to 3D), to find out what makes him tick, where he got his eye for detail, and what inspires him to get out of bed every morning and make video games.

Hideo Kojima has been at the forefront of modern videogame design for nearly 20 years now, from the ripe old days of the MSX system to his recent eye-popping Metal Gear Solid 4 demonstration for the Playstation 3. He's continually pushed the boundaries of Japanese game designs further than any other developer, save for perhaps Shigeru Miyamoto, and he is without equal in his cinematic approach. He has influenced legions of would-be stealth-survivors, from Tenchu to Rogue Ops to Splinter Cell, has nurtured a small handful of potential successors to the Metal Gear throne in Shinta Nojiri (Metal Gear Ac!d) and Shuyo Murata (Zone of the Enders). Kojima is, without question, one of the most important figures in the videogame industry, bringing in heavy hitters like Harry Gregson-Williams to score the soundtracks to his games and cinematic title wizards like Kyle Cooper to set the tone.

While the gritty nature of most of his games suggests a no-nonsense director at the helm, a sharper eye will spot the sly sense of humor continually at work underneath the surface. So in order to discern how games like MGS3: Subsistance happen into existance, we arranged a meeting with Kojima's visionary, kicked traditional game-related questions to the curb and had ourselves a real conversation with him to find out what makes Hideo Kojima Hideo Kojima.


OPM You've been making some of the most groundbreaking videogames for nearly 20 years now. What makes you get up and keep making games every day?
Hideo Kojima [Sipping his coffee] You know, videogames being interactive, it's kind of a service industry. The key to being a videogame creator is to provide different kinds of service. And in order to provide all kinds of service, you have to know people, and in doing so, I obviously have my own personality, and then I have my friends, family, relatives, and all of that. And then I assume virtual personalities through what I've seen in the past, and then using all these different personalities, real and virtual, I try out my own game in order to adjust it for all those people out there who would be playing my game.
The thing is, yes, I do have these different personalities, but there are millions of people out there, so what I have, all these personalities within myself, are not enough for me to tweak the game and create games. So I have focus groups and gather people to see how they play the game. Since it's a service industry, there's really no end. I can keep on offering things, and as I grow older, I can even provide a better service through what I've learned and experienced in the years of my life. The thing is, there really is no end, and that's what makes me go on. It's like a restaurant in the food industry, where you can provide a service to people. With films and games, it's fun to write the script and the story and then also do the directing, but with videogames, because it's interactive, there's this element of providing service, and in doing so, I basically have to know more about humans, about people, and it's this process of learning about people, knowing more about people, that makes me a bigger person, a broader person. And that's why it's something I can't really stop doing. It's something I enjoy doing.

OPM Where do you get most of your stimuli from? Do you get it from music, from movies, from books you read?
HK If you check out my blog, you'll probably know what stimulates me, but the thing is, I'm working all day long. It's not like I can go on around-the-world travel; it's not like I go on risky, dangerous adventures or anything. I basically go to work like anyone else to get paid. Even while I spend most of my time in the office working, I get to meet different people, I get to listen to different music, I get to see different movies. Basically, It's doing my thing everyday, living and going into the office. If I have my sensors on, I just run into things and absorb what I run into. It's not like I have to do anything special to get stimulated.
It might be a little hard to understand, but when I walk down the street, if I see a stone in the middle of the street, that's a stimulus. People probably walk by, but I'll say, "Why is this thing sitting in the middle of the road?" Or even like your slipper [Motions to the interviewer] "Why is that guy wearing one slipper and not the other?" These things might not be stimuli to other people, but these things to me are seeds of stimuli.

OPM In your blog, it's easy to tell that you're very observant of the little details. So I can see why you'd notice that I'm only wearing one slipper. In the past you've mentioned how your parents moved when you were a child, causing you to lose all your friends, and that this made you somewhat introverted. Did this lead you to focus on the details more?
HK It's just my personality, I think. My wife says she doesn't like people with my personality. [Laughs] It's very exhausting, because when we go out to dinner together, for a meal, I always complain about the food, and she doesn't enjoy that. I really don't know why these things stimulate me. I catch these things; things concern me. Maybe in that sense I'm still a child that hasn't grown up but has aged -- I'm like a big child. It's not like I really question everything. It's not like, "Why is this like that?" It's not a bunch of whys. More like every time I run into something I start thinking about it, thinking about the background story that sits behind that thing or person or whatever. And when I meet someone, I start thinking about what kind of family he or she has, or what kind of life he has been living so far, and it's these things that I start thinking about.

OPM What would you say have been the most influential things in your life? I know you like Joy Division, so maybe it was their album Closer that moved you. Or maybe it was having a child or your own.
HK You know, people ask me that, like what was the first movie that impacted you the most, and I really can't answer because I've been impacted everyday by a lot of things. So it's just a lot of things that have influenced me big time, but you mentioned my child. That obviously was a big influence in my life. That really divides the B.C. and A.D within my life. That was a big impact.
The thing is, when I was a child myself I was one of these - first of all I'm going to give you the Japanese term kagi-ko, which literally means "key child" - what it means is both of your parents are working, so the kid basically has the key to the house. After school you go home and your parents aren't there, so you open the door with the key yourself and go in and no one's in the house. Kagi-ko isn't even really used anymore in Japan; it's a very old sort of idea.
Kids basically have the keys hanging on straps; moms give them the key, but the straps end up being too long, so when they go up on the horizontal bar, they end up wrapping around [Laughs] But as a kagi-ko, no one's there, so I'd go home and watch TV and I felt very lonely. Sometimes I'd look at my mom's big mirror and would start crying. That probably has a big impact on me right now. I'm still a lonely guy; I feel solitude all the time, even when I'm with people. While I do feel lonely, I do sort of enjoy solitude as well. I like to hang out with eople, but when I hang out with people I end up noticing that people are different from me, and I feel more solitude. But then when my son was born, I guess that really changed things. I don't feel that absolute solitude anymore.
For example, you mentioned Joy Division; they have a song called "Isolation." Like punk music, in that kind of music, while they feel frustrated, they direct their frustration outside. In their songs they basically want to destroy society and rules; it's like an exploding force. But then came alternative rock, alternative music, where the energy sort of implodes. Everything goes internally. When I bumped into that kind of music, I really felt happy in the sense that, "Oh, there are people like me in England as well."
Like Tears for Fears: The guys were going to shrinks, and the shrinks said, "Why don't you make music?" and that's how they sort of came about. So people like them. Their music had a big impact on me.

OPM It's interesting you mention that. Tears for Fears' first couple albums, The Hurting and Songs from the Big Chair, were exercises originating from their Janovian Primal-scream therapy sessions. The song "Shout" specifically was the purest example of that.
HK OK, we should go to karaoke next time. We'll sing the song. I haven't been singing lately. [Laughs]

OPM If you had to pick a song to sing right now, what would it be?
HK The first song would be "Don't Cry" by Asia. The problem is, even when I sing the song, the people who go with me aren't familiar with it, so it's pretty sad. There's a lot of stimuli out there, though. Putting music aside -- movies, books, I love all kinds of books and movies. I have diverse tastes.

OPM What would we see on your DVD shelf and bookshelf right now?
HK That's a tough question. That choice I'd be making would change every day.

OPM What would you be in the mood for right now?
HK Today not necessarily the best answer, but I just bought the DVD of The Butterly Effect, and I haven't watched it yet, so I'll probably go watch it.

OPM And a book?
HK There's this Japanese writer called Masaki Yamada, and his latest book, called Mystery Opera is a book I'm reading. And I've bought the latest book by Paul Wilson, but I haven't read it yet. I go to the book store and CD store every day. I commute using the train, and there's a big bookstore on the way where I change trains. That's what I enjoy doing every day. I'm not of the generation where people surf the net to see what's coming out soon. I just go to the store. I have these feelings; I sort of know that something's coming out, so I go to the store.
It's like meeting people when I go to the bookstore. There are like 10,000 books there, and I end up picking one; the chances are miraculous. Even when buying music, this is something I do: It's called "jacket buying" or "cover buying." I basically have no idea what the music is, but I just like the cover of the record, and buy it. Most of the time, or more than half the time, the music ends up being bad. But I just cherish this actual physical meeting of people and products.

OPM Would you lament the day software publishers dispense with packaging and design altogether, as companies like Valve move toward a download-only generation? Obviously, the tons of special editions and limited packaging you release for your games (at least in Japan) reveals how much you appreciate good design.
HK You know, downloading stuff is like meeting the internal organs of a person. That's not what I want. You sort of want to wonder what this person is about, what kind of person he or she is. Same with books: You pick it up and try to figure out what it's about; maybe you're eager to read it. Or even if it's music and you have no idea what it's going to sound like, but you pick it up and imagine and expect things. And I think that's what adds to the whole experience, instead of just getting the internal organs like you see in these pictures [points to framed pictures of X-rays of skulls hanging on his wall], the inside.
The packaging part of the product as well, and the service. Another thing I don't like about things with the internet in addition to downloading is, there are people out there who read people's reviews before going to a movie. You read someone's review and say, "Hey it sounds good; I'm going to go and see the movie." I don't like that. I'd rather see the movie myself first and then try to see what people thought about it. I think that if this kind of culture prevails, people will end up not making their own decisions, or people will basically depend on [other] people's tastes. By doing that you won't be able to brush up or improve you own senses and tastes. It is a dangerous trend where people will not go out for themselves or feel or decide instinctively what is good or bad if they depend on other people's tastes.

OPM Do you think people would be doing themselves a disservice if they read my review on MGS4 before goign to buy the game?
HK Well, if more people are going to buy the game after reading your review, please. [Laughs] I know I'm contradicting myself. The thing is, on the internet, there's so much data, like rankings. For example, you see the top-10 box-office movies or top-10 best-selling CDs. It's just information like numbers and data, and people say, "Oh, this is popular; I'm going to go buy it." It definetly is a way to chose things, you know, seeing the best-selling CDs and saying, "I'm going to buy this because it's selling well." That definetly is a way. People really should depend on their own senses, on their own abilities, to try and sense what's good and bad.

OPM Since you obviously do a lot of interviews, what is the most annoying interview question that keeps coming up?
HK OK, this is like a Japan-only question, but I'm called Kojima-kantoku. Kantoku means "director", but director in Japan usually means a movie director. The title comes after the name, like Kurosawa-kantoku or Kojima-kantoku. "Why do people call you Kojima-kantoku?" That question I hate.

OPM Do they ask that a lot?
HK I was asked that yesterday. The Japanese media, that's like the first question they ask me.

OPM Is that supposed to be a sign of respect? Maybe they're trying to brown-nose you before the interview?
HK I think it's the opposite. The thing is, the word kantoku is usually associated with film directors, and in Japan I think people view film directors as superior to videogame directors. The word in English is the same, a film director or videogame director. I guess in Japan, videogame directors aren't refered to as kantoku, so I guess they think "The film directors are way up there; why are you called kantoku along with them?" It's a way of disrespect, sort of.

OPM It's funny you should say that. With the exception of some highly respected film directors, like Kurosawa, among others, the Japanese film industry isn't generally considered top tier, usually because of films' miniscule budgets compared to what Hollywood can produce. The Japanese videogame industry, on the other hand, is generally considered top-notch, with high-quality CG, game graphics, innovation, etc., and with most of the big franchises coming out of Japan. The Japanese film industry doesn't usually grab too much attention outside of Japan, while the Japanese game industry certainly does.
HK Please write that! Keep writing about that to change things. Don't use me on the cover; put that on the cover! That message there.

OPM Have you heard of [film critic] Roger Ebert's assessment that videogames can never be viewed as art? How do you feel about that?
HK I don't think they're art either, videogames. The thing is, art is something that radiates the artist, the person who creates that piece of art. If 100 people walk by and a single person is captivated by whatever that piece radiates, then it's art. But videogames aren't trying to capture one person. A videogame should make all 100 people that play that game should enjoy the service provided by that videogame. It' something of a service. It's not art. But I guess the way of providing service with that videogame is an artistic style, a form of art.
For example, look at a concept car. You don't have to be able to drive a car, but if it's called a car and it has artistic elements in the visuals, then it's art. But an actual car, like a videogame, is interactive, it's something used by people, so it's like a car where you have to drive it. There are 100 people driving a car; they have 100 ways of driving and using it. It could be families driving the car. It could be a couple driving a car. The owner of the car could be driving along the coastline of they could go up into the mountains, so this car has to be able to be driven by all 100 of these people, so in that sense, it's totally not art.

OPM By that same token, if you had a Picasso on the wall, you may totally enjoy his work. I imagine you would if you had one hanging up. But I may hate Picasso; I may perfer the Bauhaus movement. So if we have different opinions, maybe we're not physically "using" it for anything specific; we're still using our minds to evaluate it, just like the performance of a car or videogame. That's not going to stop art from being art, but videogames can still be artistic.
HK Let me say this in a different way, so I can better explain the nuance in what I'm trying to say. That building there [points to one of the adjacent Roppongi Hills towers] has an art museum called Mori Museum, but any museum will do. Art is the stuff you find in the museum, whether it be a painting or a statue. What I'm doing, what videogame creators are doing, is running the museum -- how do we light up things, where do we place things, how do we sell tickets? It's basically running the museum for those who come to the museum to look at the art. For better or worse, what I do, Hideo Kojima, myself, is run the museum and also create art that's displayed in the museum.

OPM So do you think the user's involvement in affecting the outcome of a game affects the game's artistic credibility, because it's left to the user to "finish" the painting?
HK Not necessarily. Online games maybe, because what you're doing is basically providing them with the arena, the play tools, and leaving everything up to the player, so for online games, maybe yes. What I do with my videogames, specifically Metal Gear Solid, is provide a canvas and paint and the paintbrushes to everyone who buys the game. Obviously, some people can draw well or paint well, while some people cannot. I basically provide them with the tools and make sure these people are satisfied with their painting. They're like, "Man, I'm a marvelous artist. I can paint! I can draw!" I make sure they get the satisfaction when they play my games, that they're able to draw something that they're very satisfied with in the end.

OPM Games like Shadow of the Colossus and ICO are the games most oftened referred to as art in videogame form, due to their distinct visual quality. Many people point to those games as art. Do you think these are exceptions, such as these games, where you could look at them and say, "OK, those are art."? Or do you think all games fall under the blanket assessment?
HK I think they're good games, but I think they're just another game. In [Shadow of the Colossus], you ride a horse. It's a horse; it looks like a horse. But in art, I can paint this cup [lifts up his coffee cup] and call the painting Horse. That's art. The music and graphics used in a game -- they have artistic elements, I agree. But everything else is very intuitive. It's easy to play in the sense that a horse looks like a horse and you obviously know that you ride the horse, so what I think it does is provide a service.
Maybe let's say there's a game out there where there's a boss that you cannot defeat. It's made that way. Normally when you beat the boss in a game, there's a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, but if you can't beat the boss at all, if what you're left with is a sense of loss, then maybe that could be defined as art. You know Taro Okamoto -- he's dead but a very famous Japanese artist. I don't know the official English translation of it, but one of his pieces called The Refusing Chair. It's something that sort of looks like a chair, but it's got bumps on it, so you can't sit on it, but if you do, it's going to hurt your butt. With videogames you have to make sure you can sit on the chair. That's why you want to think about art and videogames. I think the lousiest videogames can be considered art. Because bad games with no fun aren't really games, by definition.

OPM Speaking of the Mori Museum, there's an exhibit going on there right now on Hiroshi Sugimoto. One of the placards on the photograph of the mathemetically inspired sculpture has a quote of Sugimoto's that says, "Art resides even in the things with no artistic intentions." So, it's reasonable to suggest that a game has just as much opporunity to be art as an apple on a plate.
HK You know, with videogames becoming something that anyone can play at any time becaues they've become so popular and mainsteam in our lives, I think contemporary artists out there could use videogames and create art -- like The Refusing Chair, the unplayable videogame. It's there, it looks playable, but you just can't control it.

OPM Recently you had a chance to meet up with Frank Miller when he was in Japan to promote Sin City, the movie. Do you like Frank Miller's work?
HK My favorite one is Hard Boiled, for which he only wrote the script and story. I love this stuff because although it is an American comic, it's got a French flavor.

OPM What was it like meeting him?
HK He was a very nice guy. He's a big fan of Japanese manga and comics, realy, and his style is very different from typical American comics; you can see it in his cuts and the layout. And since he likes Japanese comics, he sort of does not use a lot of colors...

OPM ...or backgrounds.
HK Right. And with Japanese manga, the person who writes the story and does the art is usually the same. So it's really that person's piece of work. But most American comics, until Frank Miller, were more like a production line, where you have the storyteller, the scriptwriter, the artist, and if you need, another artist to finish it up. But with Frank Miller, he wanted to do it Japanese style, where he did everything. He's like the first person who did it in American comics.
When he started doing that, doing everything himself, he was really bashed in the industry for not doing it the American way. But with his success, he really opened this new path where one person could do everything and make it that person's work, instead of putting it on a production line. Like the main character of his comics, many of them end up dying. That's not American. In American Hollywood films, they never die, the main protagonists. He basically opened this new path in the American comics industry.

OPM Are you familiar with Frank Miller's graphic novel Ronin.
HK [Laughs] I know it, but I haven't read it yet.

OPM It's sort of a parallel to Miller himself, since he started out working for the major companies, like Marvel and DC, and then struck out on his own.
HK Frank Miller is a fan of a Japanese samurai series...what's it called in the States?

OPM Lone Wolf and Cub? He helped bring that series into the United States. Like how Quentin Tarantino might executive-produce a Robert Rodriguez film, Frank Miller got Dark Horse Comics to translate and publish Lone Wolf and Cub for the States.
HK He did? That's interesting.

OPM Back to your earlier years -- were you an only child?
HK I have an older brother. He's two years older.

OPM So you and your brother are very different then?
HK I think so, and I always thought so, but I really don't know.

OPM Did he have a key around his neck, too?
HK [Laughs] He must have, but I remember I was always the one using my key to get in the house, so he was probably still at school. He is only two years older, but when he was my age, [the age] when I felt very lonely, my mom was not working. My parents' generation, many years ago in Japan, the husband, the father, went out and worked, like America in the 1950's. Like now, even in Japan, women work. There are equal-employment rights, and people can take maternity leave, etc. But 30 years ago when Japan was going through a major economic boom, that's when women started to work, maybe not full time, but that's when kids started wearing their straps and became kagi-ko.
Now, most kids' parents both work, but back then, it was only a small portion, only a few kids in each class had both parents working. That's why I felt even more lonely, like the kagi-kos formed a "kagi-ko alliance" like, "We're very lonely; we have our keys around our necks." When I was small, in elementary school, if it was sunny in the morning but ended up raining in the afternoon, most kids' moms came to school with another umbrella to pick them up, but my mom was working so she never came. So I ended up having small umbrellas in my bag. But then if I took it out and used it, it looked like, "Oh, Hideo, your mom's not coming." I didn't like that; it was embarassing, so I ended up walking home in the rain without using my umbrella.

OPM So you'd go home soaking wet to prove a point?
HK [Laughs] Yeah, a little bit. I guess. You could say that. Being the second child in the family, I just hated being the oppressed one. I always wanted to fight back. When my mom said, "Do as your big brother does, follow the rules." No way. [Laughs]


Our interview came to an end and our photographer began to situate Kojima in his appartment. It is a modestly and spaciously appointed affair, with a couple of red leather chairs set against a mostly stark-white backdrop. Lots of Kojima memorabilia accents the room, with Zone of the Enders statues bookending the huge Hitachi widescreen TV resting in his livingroom and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater promotional materials making up the build of the rest of the display.
But it's the little things that really offer a peek into Kojima's life: A 12-inch single of New Order's "Fine Time" and a signed and numbered certificate commemorating a Joy Division cover designed by Factory Records' influential Peter Saville. As the photo session wrapped up, we shook hands with Kojima and thanked him for inviting us into his home for this special meeting, a meeting that brought us closer to him not only as a creative force in the game industry, but as a human being, as a man. While he threatens with each and every installment of the Metal Gear series to move on and let someone else take the reins of gaming's favorite stealthy son, it will always be Kojima looking out from behind Solid Snake's eyes. How could it be otherwise? He's gaming's original one-man army.

[Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine - Issue 101.]
Appologies again for any typos.
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PSM brings new news.

Hideo Kojima Q & A

Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima explains more about MGS4's plot and reveals some incredible new gameplay details you haven't heard anywhere else!

Except for the unveiling of the Playstation3 itself, it's safe to say that there was no more exciting moment in 2005 than the first teaser trailer for its flagship game, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. PSM was in Japan for the game's unveiling, and we were just as amazed as everyone else who saw it.

Of course, what we saw immediately had our minds racing with possibilities and filing up with questions. Fortunetly, we'd also gone to Japan for a rare opportunity to interview Hideo Kojima, creator of the series - rare because he and his team have been locked away since E3 working on the game and trailer.

In the limited time we had, the imminently cool "Gaming God" (who's actually a very down to earth guy) revealed a treasure trove of new secrets for us to smuggle back to his favorite contingent of fans - those that read PSM.

PSM:Now that the trailer's out, is there anything more you can tell us about the story or environment?

Kojima: Well, first of all, this time, Snake is on a mission not to go to a certain place, but a battlefield. In the past Metal Gear games, it was pretty obvious that Snake had to sneak into the enemies' facilities - meaning everyone around you was an enemy. The biggest change we have for MGS4 is that, where Snake sneaks in - whether that's a country or location or battlefield - it doesn't mean that everyone around him are enemies. When Snake goes into the battlefield, it's a battlefield, meaning that there are at least more than two sides who are fighting each other, where Snake is maybe the third person or the third aspect to the battle. That means that what you do with Snake could affect the battle.

The whole environment changes in real time, so the player controlling Snake has the option to make any sort of involvement they would like to in order to progress in the game. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen that it's a battlefield, not a specific one. And this happens to be true in the game also - it's not set into a specific location, because Snake goes into several battles, and that creates the whole drama in MGS4.

In MGS3, it was set in the Cold War with the Soviets verses the U.S., but they were not directly fighting. It was the spies of each country who were fighting on behalf of the Soviet Union and the U.S. That was in the 1960s. That was MGS3.

So for MGS4, it will be, of course, the type of war we have today. This is what we have in mind for MGS4. We're also predicting what will happen in the wars of the near future as well, and how those wars will happen. This will all be in MGS4. All of the wars in the past were between nations or ideaologies or politics. They were fought for those kinds of reasons. But in the near-future war, it's more like a business, so there's lots of money involved, meaning they'll hire mercenaries to fight on behalf of their country. And that is the setting for MGS4.

In the near future, I predict that war will be like this. There is already a company that lets you hire a bounty hunter who will fight on behalf of you or your country. It will be a more indirect war in that sense. In the trailer, you saw the new gadgets and robots, meaning that war won't necessarily be man against man. Even in war now, there are remote-controlled robots and weapons and AI. So it's not a human being versus a human being. It's more nations fighting bounty hunters and robots - not humans physically fighting each other. To wrap the whole thing up, the battlefield that Snake goes into this time won't have a very apparent enemy. It will be more complex because it's more of a made-up business war, and Snake goes into that setting. And that's what MGS4 is all about.

PSM: How many years after MGS2 does this game take place?

Kojima: Right now, I'm still working out the scenario so there won't be any [continuity] mistakes, but I'd say a couple of years - maybe as many as 10.

PSM: Snake looks significantly older in MGS4. Is he aging faster because he's a clone of Big Boss?

Kojima: [Laughter] You're exactly right! You're right, he is a clone. He was a copy, but the cloning technology was from the '70s. It was a very new technology back then. It's not like it is today with our technology. Snake is aging very fast. If you look at Otacon, you'll notice that he has not aged very much, but Snake has.

PSM: In the trailer, Snake appears to have a heart attack of sorts and injects something into his neck. Is that to slow the aging or ease his pain? What is that?

Kojima: I can't say really specifically because I'm still figuring out the whole game system. But as a story background fact, you're right - he is aging fast and his health, power, and stamina are not as good as they were when he was younger. So, yes, he is injecting some sort of power, but we're not sure if we're going to actually put that in the game or not so I can't really say what that is.

PSM: Is there ever a time you play as a younger Snake?

Kojima: That's not planned at the moment. What were your impressions of the old Snake? I mgiht have second thoughts about a younger Snake if everyone thinks he looks too old.

PSM: Will we see the return of CQC, eatting, stamina, etc?

Kojima: I can say that CQC will return, but it doesn't really make sense because that's Big Boss' technique. People will have question marks if Snake can do CQC, but if you follow the story, you'll understand why he has it. Stamina will probably remain in MGS4, but we're still discussing most of the aspects of the game. We're not even supposed to say this because we might upset some team members, but we're still undecided on the food capture system.

PSM: In the trailer, Snake has the eyepiece that looks like it might replace the radar, though without showing any cones of vision. Can you talk about that?

Kojima: You're actually right about that gadget that he has over his eye. That will replace all his different vision modes, such as thermal, etc. I can't say very specificaly how the system works, but you're pretty close.

PSM: How about the little Metal Gear that comes out where Otacon appears on the screen. Will that replace the Codec and be the main form of communication?

Kojima: Yes.

PSM: Will you ever control it yourself to scout ahead or take pictures?

Kojima: Yes. We're trying to do it at this stage, but if the game comes out and those features are not in the game, please realize that it was because we couldn't do it for a good reason. We had the plan for a remote-controlled robot for even MGS2, however, due to the specs of the PS2, we couldn't do it. We especially wanted to do it in MGS3, but of course the story and the background prevented us from doing so.

PSM: Have you ever thought about having a second player, or even using the PSP to control it?

Kojima: Yes, I'm thinking about it.

PSM: The bigger robots in the trailer look like Metal Gears Ray on the bottom and Metal Gear Rex on the top. Can you explain this?

Kojima: I cannot say what that is or what it will do because of the plot. What I can say is that the leg part of what you saw is not 100% robot. It's like biotechnology. It's kind of like a cyborg. Think of it as the ninja suit in MGS1. If you shoot the leg, blood comes out. But it's very fast because it's not a robotic thing - it's got muscles. So it can move quite fast.

The upper part, like you said, is a robot and is AI-controlled. It's not very smart. We're going to let you in on a little secret regarding that machine. If you watch the trailer again, when it comes out, you can hear the crying noise of the cicada bug. In Japan, when you hear the cries of the cicada, to most Japanese people, it automatically makes them think of summer. And then it brings you back to your childhood, because there was so much nature in the past; so many cicada.

The footstep sound it makes is actually a horse. When it approaches you, you have the cicada sound and the sound of a horse approaching you. Also, the cries of that machine are from a cow. So there's a horse, a cow, and a cicada. All that combined gives you a natural feeling. This is the mental, psychological way to kill an enemy. See, in a battlefield you have a tense feeling. But when this machine approaches you, you have the horse sound, the cow cry, and the cicada cry, and it makes you forget where you are and think of your childhood. You feel a little peaceful.

PSM: And then they strike?

Kojima: Yes, then they attack. So, it's very psychological.

PSM: Can you talk about how Raiden is involved in the story?

Kojima: Should Raiden appear? [Laughter]

PSM: We think so!

Kojima: In Japan, Raiden is quite a popular character. He will, in fact, appear in MGS4. We know he's not very popular in the U.S., but this time we're making Raiden a very cool character. You'll probably like him very much. There's even potential you'll like him more than Snake! You should forget the image that appeared in MGS2 because as you can see, Otacon has changed dramatically in the trailer. He is much more of a hard-boiled character. So Raiden will make this type of personality change as well.

PSM: Is there any chance of Snake actually controlling some vehicles this time?

Kojima: In the Metal Gear series, we've never done that before. But in all the so-called "popular" games available now, you can control or ride anything. So, in MGS4, yes, we will try to make Snake control anything that's possible.

PSM: At the end of the trailer, it says that the Cell processor is the key to the console war. Does that mean you prefer the PS3 over the other next-gen consoles, or think it will be the reigning game console?

Kojima: I mentioned the console war, but I actually think there won't be a console war. It will be more of a war of creators. Think about the Nintendo Revolution. You see the new controller. For the Revolution, the game concept or idea has to be designed for that machine. So it will be a war of if the creators have great ideas or not.

It won't be possible to do multiple platform games like today where you have one title and have it on PS2, GameCube, and Xbox. This will not be the way in the near future. For the high-spec machines like the PS3 and the 360, you will need a lot of time and money to make a game to th standard of those machines. The creator must be a gifted creator, because expressing their ideas will be very difficult using those high-spec machines.

It won't be the publishers' way that will win the game industry battle. No matter how good the publisher is, you must always have good production; how many of these titles and creators you have will be the key. It will not be a matter of platform.

In 10 to 20 years, the company that remains will be the one with most talented, innovative creators, and not the ones with just well-known franchises. It's important that we have a good production. So in the next era, if you could imagine this example: in the movie industry it won't be Disney that's important, it will be the Pixar. Who has the Pixar? That's what will be important.
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