Kojima’s Early (Non-Metal Gear) Games Are Underrated

Hideo Kojima's Policenauts

Hideo Kojima has created some amazing games. Unfortunately, two of his best games have never been released outside of Japan, and that should change.

Hideo Kojima is probably best known for his award-winning Metal Gear franchise, but the Metal Gear entries are far from the only game he has worked on or created. Kojima is one of the greater video game creators of all time, and he has constantly delivered games that have been revolutionary and innovative in their respective genres. Death Stranding boasted a new genre for gaming, and older works like Zone of the Enders introduced fun and innovative gameplay mechanics. While many of Kojima’s games are available for all to play, his most interesting and influential games have never left Japan.

Snatcher is a cyberpunk adventure game that was released on PC in 1988 and Policenauts was released for PC in 1994, eventually making its way to the 3DO, Sega Saturn, and PlayStation. Despite releasing on a variety of platforms, it remained a regional exclusive. Both games have been praised by Japanese critics, and they inspired and influenced many of Kojima’s future games. While English localizations were planned, they never happened. Regardless, they are fantastic games that have had an amazing legacy. Almost all of Hideo Kojima’s games have been localized in one form or another, and it is time that Policenauts and Snatcher be ported or remade for modern consoles.

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Snatcher and Policenauts Have Gripping Stories for Fans to Experience

Many of Kojima’s games feature rich, complex, and intriguing stories. The Metal Gear Solid series is a prime example of this. Kojima’s commitment to story-telling arguably began with Policenauts, which followed another of his games named Snatcher. Snatcher featured a cyberpunk story inspired by films like Blade Runner, and it touches on similar topics as the film. While the games have entirely separate stories, Policenauts is considered by many to be a spiritual successor to Snatcher.

Policenauts perfected many of the story elements that Snatcher introduced. As seen in the above Tweet, Kojima is still very fond of the game. Policenauts has a hard-boiled noir detective story set in a sci-fi future. Technically, the first entries in the Metal Gear series predate Policenauts, but Policenauts was clearly a major influence on Kojima’s future projects. In particular, it heavily inspired the story for Metal Gear Solid 2.

The story elements used in Snatcher and Policenauts don’t seem revolutionary or original by today’s standards, but few video games were focusing heavily on narratives in the ’90s. Even point-and-click adventure games didn’t take their stories as seriously as those games. They told intricate tales with several twists and turns that delved into moral questions and political ideas. Of course, these storytelling elements became a staple of Kojima’s games, but it all started with Snatcher.

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Both Games Blend Several Gameplay Elements Together

Policenauts Game Cover
The cover for Policenauts

Obviously, the narratives are the main features of both games, but they also provided a clever blend of gameplay elements. Policenauts and Snatcher were often described as visual novels or interactive movies, but this was years before games like that became popular and widely accepted. In terms of gameplay, they both function like typical point-and-click adventure games, but Policenauts features a few twists. There are action sequences sprinkled throughout the game that are first-person. Players must use the cursor to aim and shoot at enemies and the Saturn version even featured a light gun segment.

This melding of gameplay and story defined the rest of Kojima’s career, and it is still featured in his games. Modern fans deserve to be able to experience Kojima’s earlier best works. They have amazing stories to tell with enough gameplay elements to keep players invested. They paved the way for modern storytelling in video games. If players around the world can experience the earliest days of Metal Gear, it shouldn’t be a problem for them to experience the source of some of Metal Gears‘ best ideas. Many of the best modern video games have taken inspiration from Policenauts and Snatcher, and fans deserve an official way to play them.


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