Snatcher is a cyberpunk-themed adventure game. It has gained a small cult following due to its mature storytelling, adult themes and, in later versions, voice acting. It was heavily influenced by various sci-fi and noir films, especially Blade Runner.
Snatcher was written and directed by Hideo Kojima. It was developed and published by Konami. Originally released in Japan for the NEC PC-8801 and MSX2 in 1988, it was remade for the PC-Engine in 1992 and ported to the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1996. A Sega CD version was also produced specifically for English localization in North America, which was also released in the PAL region for European counterpart, the Mega CD.
SD Snatcher, a sequel, was made for the MSX2, although difficulties during development forced the development team for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake to temporarily suspend their current project to help the team, with there being rumors that the latter game would end up cancelled as a result.
It later got a radio drama in 2011, titled Suda51's SDatcher. It was produced by Kojima Productions, and Kojima himself acted as the project's drama planner.
On June 6, 1991 (1996 in the English version), a chemical weapon known as Lucifer-Alpha under development in Chernoton, Russia, is released into the atmosphere, resulting in the death of 80% of the Eurasian and Eastern European population which in turn results in the death of half of the world's population. The contaminated area becomes uninhabitable for a decade, when Lucifer-Alpha mutates into a non-lethal form. This tragic event later becomes known as "the Catastrophe."
Fifty years later, a breed of artificial lifeforms, or bioroids known as "snatchers", began appearing in the artificial island of Neo Kobe City, killing their victims and taking their place in society. Nobody knows exactly what they are or where they come from. As Gillian Seed, an amnesiac working for an Anti-Snatcher task force called JUNKER, the player's goal is to track down the source of the snatchers and discover Gillian's mysterious connections with them.
Act 1: Snatch
The first act of the game deals with Gillian's first day on the job as a JUNKER (Judgement Uninfected Naked Kind and Execute Ranger in the Japanese version; Japanese Undercover Neuro Kinetic Elimination Ranger in the English version), trying to solve the murder of a fellow JUNKER operative and learns some information about the Snatchers.
Act 2: Cure
The second act is a continuation of the investigation from the first act. In this act, Gillian learns the true motives of the Snatcher menace and also learns a shocking truth about JUNKER headquarters. The PC-88 and MSX2 versions end the game at this point.
Act 3: Junk
The third act, which is first introduced in the PC Engine version and included in every subsequent version, reveals the truth about Gillian's past and his relationship to the Snatcher menace.
The Metal Gear Mk. II will have a differently shaped body, four bodies depending on the version.
Cast of characters
- Gillian Seed - The protagonist. An amnesiac with mysterious ties to the "Snatcher" menace. He joins JUNKER as its newest "Runner", a type of field operative.
- Mika Slayton - The receptionist at JUNKER HQ. A young attractive woman of Japanese and Jewish descent.
- Benson Cunningham (Cunningum in the Japanese versions) - JUNKER's commanding chief. A veteran in the special forces. He is mentioned in game to be a former member of FOXHOUND
- Harry Benson- JUNKER's mechanic. A survivor of the Catastrophe. Designer of the robotic navigators "Little John" and "Metal Gear Mk. II." He also supplies Gillian with his blaster.
- Metal Gear Mk. II - Gillian's robotic sidekick. A "navigator" who serves as an on-site forensic analyzer and has a built-in videophone. He is modeled after the Metal Gear mecha which appears in the video game of the same name, specifically the TX-55. A similar robot appears in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
- Jean Jack Gibson - The only other living field operative of JUNKER at the start of the story. He has a robotic navigator of his own called Little John, which unlike Metal Gear, was not programmed with a voice. He is found dead by Gillian and Metal, his head completely wrenched off of his body by snatchers.
Other main characters
- Jamie Seed - Gillian's estranged wife, who was found alongside him, with no recollection of her past. Employed at Neo Kobe Pharmaceuticals at the start of the game.
- Randam Hajile (Spelt "Random Hajile" in the Sega CD version) - A mysterious bounty hunter who is after the snatchers himself. Rides a one-wheeled motorcycle known as the "Road Runner". His name is "Elijah Madnar/Modnar" spelt backwards and resembles a younger Elijah. The liner notes indicated that he was meant to survive the events of Snatcher in the MSX2/PC-8801 versions of the game, much like in SD Snatcher, although the later CD versions had him being killed.
- Napoleon - Gibson's informant. A Chinese immigrant who suffers from a constant allergy from SNOW-9, similar to how winter was part of the Emperor Napoleon's downfall, hence the name.
- Katrina Gibson - Jean Jack's young daughter. Works as a model. Her house is attacked by snatchers later on in the game but she manages to find refuge in Gillian's apartment. In the Japanese version, her age is given as 14 years old, and the player can sniff her panties while she's showering. This was toned down significantly in the overseas versions by listing her age as 18 and removing the latter event.
- Isabella Velvet - An award-winning film actress who also works as a dancer at the "Outer Heaven" night club.
- Freddy Nielsen - A freelance Taxi Driver suspected of being a snatcher.
- Lisa Nielsen - Freddy's young wife.
- Ivan Rodriguez - An amateur air surfer also suspected of being a snatcher.
- Chin Shu Oh - The Director of Queens Hospital.
- Elijah Madnar - A Russian scientist involved in a top secret Soviet project prior to the events of the Catastrophe.
- Petrovich Madnar - Elijah's father, also a scientist. He fled from the Soviet Union alongside a young Harry Benson at the time of the Catastrophe. Shares his name with a character from the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
Allusions to the Metal Gear series
Because of Snatcher being created by Hideo Kojima, there were at least two allusions to the Metal Gear franchise in his work.
- As noted above, the Metal Gear Mk. II and Petrovich Madnar are based on the TX-55 Metal Gear and Dr. Petrovich (Dr. Madnar), respectively.
- One of the locations was the Outer Heaven night club, named after the mercenary nation-state and military base of the same name.
Allusions in the Metal Gear series
Also for the same reasons as above, there are also some allusions to Snatcher in the Metal Gear franchise itself.
- The rumored project mentioned in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake in that Madnar was involved in that turned Big Boss into a cyborg was codenamed "Project Snatcher," after the titular menace in the game.
- On a similar note, the opening sequence for the game has some elements, namely the blueprint for Metal Gear D, resembling a similar sequence for the opening of Snatcher regarding a Bioroid monitor.
- The main antagonist of the IdeaSpy 2.5, a radio drama within Metal Gear: Ghost Babel's Japanese and European releases, was named Junker Expensive of America, after the protagonistic group within Snatcher.
- The same company was also mentioned in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots as the name of the company responsible for the creation of the Arsenal Compress item.
- Chernoton, Russia was mentioned as being the original target for REX's stealth nuke before Liquid changed the trajectory to Lop Nor, China.
- Lt. Benson Cunningham was reused for a character in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and its expansion pack, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus, although with a noticably different design and personality. In addition, his NTSC passcode is a direct reference to Snatcher (JUNKER).
- The Metal Gear Mk. II in Metal Gear Solid 4 was based on the same robotic buddy from Snatcher, itself based on the TX-55 Metal Gear from Metal Gear.
- Also in Metal Gear Solid 4, Solid Snake's appearance in Third Sun is identical to Gillian Seed's appearance in Snatcher.
- In the mission "Jamais Vu" for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Raiden has to fight off Body-Snatchers enemies at the United States Naval Prison Facility in Cuba. This was deliberate, as the mission was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Snatcher. In addition, one of the songs included in the collectible tape "Jamais Vu" was the song "Pleasure of Tension" from the same game. It was also given a lesser reference in the mission equivalent "Déjà Vu" for the same game, where Miller will identify the "snowfall" at Cuba while playing with the Classic Snake or Cyborg Ninja skins as "the SNOW-9 pollen," referring to the material from the Snatcher franchise.
- During one of the NPC chatter on Mother Base, one of the present soldiers briefly speculates that Quiet may have been a bioroid.
Other Easter Eggs
- In the opening sequence for the game (specifically, the portion showing the blueprint of a bioroid's head), there were pieces of text that said "Hideo Canon" and "Yoshi Saportor", referring to Hideo Kojima and mech designer Yoshihiko Ohta.
- The scene that shows the Konami Omni Building has signs that have the names of Kojima, Matsui, and Kinoshita, alongside logos for NEC, ASCII, and Sony.
- When analyzing the hair/skin samples for the murderers of Jean-Jack Gibson in act 1, the Metal Gear's monitor has the terms "Metalslave" and "Naoki" pop up a few times. This is exclusive to the PC-8801/MSX2 version of the game.
- The Junker Eye training center was based on the Sega arcade machine Bull's Eye, which coincidentally was released around the same time as Snatcher.
- In the Japanese manual, there was a reference to a criminal organization called "Salamander", which referenced a game made by the company Team Metalsave.
|Reception (Sega CD)|
|Allgame||4.5 / 5|
|Computer and Video Games||90%|
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||42 / 50|
|Famitsu||33 / 40|
|GameFan Magazine||90% |
|GamePro||4 / 5|
|GameSpy||10 / 10|
|Console Obsession||9 / 10|
|Mean Machines Sega||85%|
|Next Generation||3 / 5|
|Ultimate Future Games||85%|
|The Video Game Critic||A|
|Compilations of multiple reviews|
|Average Score||89% |
| Electronic Gaming Monthly |
Best Games of All Time (#69)
| Retro Gamer |
Top Ten Mega CD Games
Snatcher has been critically acclaimed by reviewers. Famitsu gave the PC Engine version a score of 33 out of 40. Upon release of the Sega CD version, GameFan magazine gave it scores of 90%, 100%, and 90%, with one reviewer praising it for "new shooting sequences, perfect voice acting, rockin' art, incredible music, and the most involving videogame storyline ever" while another reviewer praised it for "ungodly carnage, the greatest story ever, and the interface that is just the coolest". Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Sega CD version scores of 9, 9, 7, 8, and 9, commenting positively on the graphics and the intricacy of the storyline; the reviewer Dano concluded that it is a "top-notch Sega CD title."
Mean Machines Sega described it as "a breathtakingly detailed game which is so full of nice touches and extras that going about your everyday Junker duties becomes as enjoyable as hunting down the Snatcher units" and rated it as one of their "top three Mega CD games of all-time". The February 1995 issue of GamePro, while critical of the linear quest, simplistic combat, and "conservative and old-fashioned" music, summarized the game as a "smart-looking, lengthy, interactive graphic adventure", making particular note of the intellectually stimulating investigations, compelling graphics, and strong cyberpunk storyline; the reviewer Toxic Tommy concluded that it is "a cool science fiction CD saga that rewards patience, persistence, and plodding." Future Publishing's Ultimate Future Games described it as a "compelling" game with a "big, entertaining story" but criticized "some sections" for moving "slowly". Next Generation gave it a mixed review, describing it as "mildly ground breaking" for the Sega CD but criticizing its mixture of "mature character relationships" with "strained comic relief" and aspects of the voice acting and interface.
Retrospective reviews have also been positive. Electronic Gaming Monthly ranked it number 69 in their top 100 "Best Games of All Time" list in 1997, and described it as "an awesome cyberpunk adventure game" in 1999. In 2005, 1UP praised Snatcher for being an ambitious cyberpunk detective novel graphic adventure that pushed the boundaries of video game storytelling, cinematic cut scenes and mature content in its time. Kurt Kalata of Gamasutra and Hardcore Gaming 101 praised the game for its graphics, soundtrack, high quality writing comparable to a novel, voice acting comparable to a film or radio drama, post-apocalyptic science fiction setting, light gun shooter segments, and in-game computer database with optional documents that flesh out the game world, though not its use of the amnesia theme. According to Kalata, the Sega CD version of Snatcher was for a long time the only major visual novel game to be released in America, where it gained a cult following. Retro Gamer included the Mega CD version among the top ten games on the platform, describing Snatcher as "the ultimate interactive movie."
RPGFan gave the game scores of 95% and 97%, praising it for its "amazing story line," every character's "superb development and revelations," the "twists and turns in the plot," and the game's ending. Niall MacDonald of Console Obsession gave the game a score of 9/10, praising it for its "solid game world" as well as "excellent story, stylised visuals and deep concepts." He recommended the game to fans of film noir and cyberpunk, concluding that it is "not just an excellent interactive movie, but an example of gaming at its finest." VentureBeat considers Snatcher to be a "masterpiece" that surpasses the writing and storytelling of Blade Runner.
Images of Metal Gear Mk. II captured by EndofBeyond.tumblr.com
- Hardcore Gaming 101 - Article on the game and regional differences with photos. (Backup link here)
- Play-through by Slowbeef
Notes and references
- ^ https://thearkhound.tumblr.com/post/177046851093/metal-gear-2-solid-snake-development-anecdotes
- The MSX of Our Youth Part 3
- Part 4
- The game developers became battlefield otakus
- Part 5
- The development of the game was temporarily suspended
- ^ http://endofbeyond.tumblr.com/post/81995446919/each-version-of-snatcher-that-contained-act-iii
- ^ https://twitter.com/Arc_Hound/status/963417449164169216
- ^ a b https://twitter.com/Arc_Hound/status/1010360725443923968
- ^ https://twitter.com/Arc_Hound/status/997187157931511808
- ^ https://twitter.com/Arc_Hound/status/995471955917721600
- ^ https://twitter.com/Arc_Hound/status/992815306518286339
- ^ https://twitter.com/Arc_Hound/status/1024490078276669442
- ^ https://twitter.com/Arc_Hound/status/1024487021967028224
- ^ Sutyak, Jonathan (2014-12-10). Snatcher - Overview - allgame. Archived from the original on December 10, 2014. Retrieved on 2016-03-11.
- ^ Computer and Video Games, issue 158.
- ^ a b "Review Crew: Snatcher", Electronic Gaming Monthly, EGM Media, LLC, December 1994, p. 44.
- ^ a b スナッチャー まとめ [PCエンジン] / ファミ通.com (2014-02-22). Retrieved on 2016-03-11.
- ^ Junker HQ Image. Junkerhq.net. Retrieved on 2015-04-10.
- ^ a b c d e f g h Snatcher: Did Critics Love Hideo Kojima's Thriller in 1994?. Defunctgames.com (2014-07-11). Retrieved on 2015-04-10.
- ^ GamesMaster, issue 24, p. 82.
- ^ Classic Review Archive - Snatcher (2009-05-19). Archived from the original on May 19, 2009. Retrieved on 2016-03-11.
- ^ a b Niall Macdonald, Snatcher Sega-CD Review, Console Obsessions.
- ^ Strauss, Bob (2015-01-17). Snatcher. EW.com. Retrieved on 2015-04-10.
- ^ Games World, issue 7, p. 20.
- ^ DIE Kult-Seite über die alten Spiele-Magazine und Retro-Games!. Kultboy.com. Retrieved on 2015-04-10.
- ^ a b c RPGFan Reviews - Snatcher. Rpgfan.com. Retrieved on 2015-04-10.
- ^ a b RPGFan Reviews - Snatcher. Rpgfan.com. Retrieved on 2015-04-10.
- ^ a b Ultimate Future Games - Issue 02 (1995-01)(Future Publishing)(GB). Archive.org. Retrieved on 2015-04-10.
- ^ http://videogamecritic.com/segacdsz.htm
- ^ a b Electronic Gaming Monthly, issue 100, pages 100-160 (116)
- ^ a b Top Ten Mega CD Games. Retrogamer.net (2014-04-11). Retrieved on 2015-04-10.
- ^ "Snatcher", GamePro, IDG, February 1995, p. 118.
- ^ (1999) "Video Game Buyer's Guide". Electronic Gaming Monthly.
- ^ http://www.1up.com/features/retroactive-metal-gear
- ^ a b Kurt Kalata, Snatcher, Hardcore Gaming 101.
- ^ Kurt Kalata, Policenauts, Hardcore Gaming 101.
- ^ http://venturebeat.com/community/2011/12/28/snatcher-was-influence-by-this/