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Myth: Metal Gear series started on NES, or: Metal Gear on MSX and NES are the same

Fact: Metal Gear was first released on MSX2 in Japan on July 13th, 1987. Metal Gear for NES, released in December of 1987, is a different game

By Maxwell N, Posted on January 12, 2019

MSX2 cartridge art for Metal Gear.

The year of this writing is 2019—thirty-two years since the start of the Metal Gear series, or rather, franchise. “Metal Gear” is one of the most iconic names in gaming, and has only increased in popularity with every release. Hell, the series, arguably in its legacy years these days, is much bigger now than it ever was thought imaginable when this site started out in 2003.

You’d think that with how the Metal Gear series has blown up year after year, with such a dedicated fanbase, fundamentally basics fact wouldn’t be that hard to get right. Yet misinformation regarding which console/platform the original Metal Gear game was initially released for, plus differences between the game’s MSX and NES versions, is still widely spread. Then again, Metal Gear fans do love to thrive on misinformation, so maybe we shouldn’t be all that surprised.

Say what you want about old-school Trekkies, at least they were nerds about accuracy.

So, yeah, this apparently needs to be said: the first game in what would become the Metal Gear franchise, created and directed by Hideo Kojima, was released for the MSX2 on July 13, 1987 in Japan, not on the NES.

The NES version did give us this iconic line, though.

Metal Gear did come out on the Nintendo Entertainment System, however, later in December of 1987. This version, published in North America by Ultra Games (a Konami shell subsidiary), is not the same game, and Kojima was not involved whatsoever in its creation. This version can be best described as a “demake” of the MSX original, carrying over a lot of the general gameplay and story ideas, but due to a combination of the NES’s hardware limitations, a 3-month-long rushed development and Konami ordering the game be made obtusely different, it’s ultimately a mechanically broken shitshow. Despite all that, it is commendable what the NES development team was able to accomplish with what they were given and asked to do. Its soundtrack isn’t half bad either, but that’s beside the point.

According to Wikipedia, both of these are the same game.

It’s often stated in articles, summaries and whatnot that Metal Gear for MSX and NES are the same game. This is wrong. Maybe this idea perpetuated by Wikipedia’s stupid practice of listing different games with the same name as the same games. According to Wikipedia, Resident Evil 4 on Zeebo (whatever the fuck that is) is the same as the regular game.

To recap: Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear first came out on MSX. Konami later developed a game based on the MSX one also called Metal Gear on the NES, made without Kojima’s involvement (something he’s not happy about), which is a weird and ultimately different game where you fight a giant blue-screening computer terminal instead of the titular Metal Gear.

I can’t believe that this needs to be said, but here we are.

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