Moments We Remember: Barry Nugent on Metal Gear Solid

Chronicling stories of how gaming has changed us – one moment at a timeMetal GearSolid, PS1, 041, Psycho Mantis (1600x900)Title: Metal Gear Solid (Konami, 1998)
Format: PC, PS1
Spoilers: mild, gameplay-related

Today we’ve got a reflection on Metal Gear Solid, which is still recognised as one of the most ground-breaking titles in interactive entertainment bar none, from sci-fi and fantasy aficionado and co-host of the Geek Syndicate podcast, Barry Nugent.

The first 3D outing for the Metal Gear series, on the original PlayStation, is one that lives long in the memory of those who played it in the late 90s. Nugent’s recount of Solid Snake’s battle with the mind-reading Psycho Mantis is particularly special because game creator, Hideo Kojima, and his team, were pulling tricks that extended outside of the game, right into your hands and the hardware in front of you.

‘I can read your every thought’ – Psycho Mantis

Metal Gear Solid was the first stealth game I had ever played. Before I discovered the gravelly voice delights of Sam Fisher, I had the equally ‘I chew broken glass for a living’ vocal tones of Solid Snake coming through my TV.

“To set the scene, there is a moment in MGS where you face-off against a particular nasty bad guy, called Psycho Mantis.

“Before things get really heated Psycho is all up in my face giving it large about how he can ‘read my mind’. Of course, I don’t believe him, after all it’s a game right? He then proceeds to call me a poor warrior and tell me that I’ve saved often. The act is unexpected and unnerving but I have faith in my gamer-fu until he makes my controller rumble… HE MAKES MY CONTROLLER RUMBLE!

“Incensed that this collection of pixels is taking the piss out of me, my bullet-laden dance with this gas mask-wearing, nutter begins. Many deaths later I realise two things:
1. I haven’t laid a hand on this guy.
2. I have no idea how to lay a hand on this guy.

“Now most gamers now know how to defeat Psycho, but, for me, that nugget of wisdom came via a fellow gamer (once he had got me to stop crying). The only way to defeat him was to plug my controller into another port. Suffice to say after I did that PM’s days were numbered.

“To this day, I have yet to experience that level of out-of-the-box thinking in a video game. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played many, many games which have been fantastic and have given me better gaming experiences than MGS, but none that pulled a move like that.

“This term ‘next generation’ is thrown around a lot in gaming and it is often attributed to things like virtual reality or better graphics or more powerful hardware. But for this gamer, that single moment, when Psycho broke the fourth wall, showed me just how immersive a video game could be.

“To this day, I still occasionally switch controllers on end of level bosses… because you never know.”

Barry Nugent is one half of Geek Syndicate, a (mostly) weekly podcast celebrating and discussing all aspects of geek life.


For personal accounts of gaming moments that have changed players, game makers and more, see the Moments We Remember archive.

If you have a gaming moment you’d like to share, find out how to get involved, tweet @dk33per or visit the Contact page.

Image: Konami/Corona Jumper

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