Snake's Revenge
Box Shot
Snake's Revenge
Platform: NES
Publisher: Ultra
Designer: Ultra/Konami
Genre: Action/Adventure
Players: 1
Published Date 1991
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

I had always wanted to try Snake's Revenge, the sequel to Konami's (well, technically Ultra's) Metal Gear. And while it certainly isn't a bad game. I can't quick say that it lives up to its predecessor.

Once again, you take the role of Solid Snake. Colonel CaTaffy, who tried to take over the world before by creating a "Metal Gear" (a walking robot with thermonuclear capabilities) has now joined forces with Higharolla Kockamamie to take over the world again. And two of Snake's friends were killed by these creeps, so this time it's personal (well, it explains the title anyway.)

For those unfamiliar with the original Metal Gear, the game is an unconvential adventure game. Though at first look it seems to be vaguely similar to Zelda in a modern setting, it's actually very different. The game emphasizes stealth...instead of running in guns blazing, you're supposed to sneak around the enemy guards to accomplish tasks, find new items and weapons, infiltrate the facilities and eventually finish the game. There is a password feature so you can pick up where you left off.

Well, that's what the original game was about. Unfortunately, they decided to change the formula around a tad. It has the same stealth element, but at times it's absolutely impossible to sneak around enemies. Right at the beginning of the game, when you're creeping through the jungle, there are enemies riding on little helicopters. There is pretty much no possible way to get past these guys without being spotted. And when you are spotted, a legion of turban-clad commandos will come out to silence you. There are also times when you simply walk on the screen at the wrong spot and call attention to yourself without really doing anything wrong. What's the point of sneaking around if you're just going to get spotted no matter what you do?

The game keeps a similar interface and pace as the original, but since you're going to get spotted a lot more often, this doesn't quite work out. Snake is kinda slow and can only move/shoot in the basic four directions. On the other hand, the enemies move quickly, can shoot in any direction, fire accurately and always attack in numbers. It's very difficult to move and kill all of these guys without at least taking some damage.

For some idiotic reason, side-scrolling scenes have been added at various points. These don't control very well, plus they're just annoying. Most of the time to get out of enemy view, you duck. Well, you can't shoot when you duck, only stab (useless) and lay explosives (also useless.) And at times when the enemy is on a lower vertical level than you, it's almost impossible to jump down and dispatch them before they see you. Overall, these scenes bring down the enjoyment of the game, but they aren't too common.

There are a few other quirks too. When you rescue a certain amount of hostages, you get promoted. That means that your life meter gets longer. But this is rather pointless, because with a higher rank more enemies come out when you're discovered and their bullets do more damage. Food and ammo is also in short supply, but the designers made up for this by having enemies occasionally drop these items if you punch them to death. Finally, most people that have played Metal Gear know that you can stock up on items by exiting and re-entering a room. Yet novices wouldn't know that. For example, when you come across the oxygen tank, you'd first think you need only one. Once you get to an area where you need it, you then learn that you need two or three to survive. Just great. And finally, there is the place that you resume after dying. The game seems to "save" whenever you cross certain areas, so when you die, you'll go back there with all the items you had when your last crossed it. This can be good if you got some new items. This can be bad if you use all of your rations.

There are a few new cool features. There's only one new weapon unfortunately (the powerful shotgun) but the grenades, remote control missiles, machine guns and other favorites are still around. You also get a knife for hand-to-hand combat, but you can still use your fists. The old tranceiver to get advice from your comrades is still around too. This is actually vital near the beginning of the game...instead of running right into the enemy base, you have to listen to the tranceiver messages from one of your buddies, hide at the entrance of the base and he'll let himself get captured. Then you can move in. There are neat little twists like this throughout the game (like when you try to rescue him, only to find out that the messages have been sent by a spy.)

There's a bigger variety of scenery as well. In addition to the standard jungle and indoor buildings, you'll make your way onto a train and a ship. It's just something that gives the game more distinct looks at different places. I also particularly like dodging the spotlights at the beginning of the game, even if sometimes it's impossible to avoid getting spotted.

The graphics are much cleaner, even if Snake looks like an idiot. Unfortunately, with the crisper graphics, the game lost some of the grittiness of the original, which I rather liked. The music, on the other hand, is actually quite good, especially in the jungle. A nice little scream when the enemies see you would've been nice, but that may be asking too much.

Snake's Revenge is your typical sequel...it tries too hard to be better than its predecessor and doesn't quite succeed. Making the game more action oriented didn't really work. And although I've spent most of this review complaining, it's still a fun game to play through, even if the constant deaths and replaying certain sequences can get on your nerves.