November 16, 2006
Game Review By: Synapsis
Author: Hideo Kojima
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High
Introduction: When I heard the name Hideo Kojima the first thing that came to my mind was Metal Gear. But this has changed as; Kojima has other games for being remembered, like Snatcher. Besides the fact that Snatcher has been released on several systems it has also gained a small group of fans due to its storyline, adult themes and voice acting. Influenced by sci-fi and film-noir, most notably “Blade Runner” and “The Terminator”, Snatcher submerges one into a Cyberpunk World while giving you that nostalgia of older games.
The Story: Due to the release of a chemical weapon known as Lucipher-Alpha, developed in Chernoton, Russia, half of the people on Earth died. The contaminated area becomes uninhabitable for a decade, when Lucipher-Alpha mutates into a non-lethal form. This tragic event occurred on June 6, 1991 and became known as the “Catastrophe.” Fifty years later, a artificial life-forms known as “snatchers”, began appearing in the artificial island of Neo Kobe City, killing their victims and taking their place in society. They have skin, can sweat, even bleed and, at first sight, it is impossible to notice any difference between the Snatcher and the person they replace. Nobody knows exactly what they are or where they come from.
In the game, you play as Gillian Seed, an agent working for an Anti-Snatcher force called JUNKER. Seed has amnesia, which serves as the reason for him joining the Anti-Snatcher force. The word “Snatcher” always appears in his head whenever he tries to remember his past. In playing Gilliam Seed, your goal is to track down the source of the snatchers and discover Gillian’s mysterious connections with them.
The Game: As this game is ALL about the storyline, I won’t spoil it. You can really see how Kojima likes directing and making his games movie-like. It is clear that as a consequence the shortcomings in technology options, Kojima knew he had to make the story the driver in order to make up for the game play and technology of the time.
In playing it, the game is harder that it first appears. You have to notice and remember many details from witnesses or things you read. It also it has some questions and puzzles that will drive you mad for a while. It’s the first game I’ve had to play with a notebook for capturing important details. For your luck, Gillian has a navigator that helps him with all the complicated substance analysis and investigative matters. Kojima use of the Gillian character shows how he mixes things, as it is pretty similar to the minirobot Otacon uses to follow and help snake in MGS4 (Watch the trailers on youtube). For breaking the game investigative monotony, there are a series of shooter scenes where you have to use the Blaster - a special type of laser gun made to fry snatchers. These scenes aren’t numerous, but you will remember them as they require significant reflexes, especially as you near the end of the game.
Why You Want to Play Snatcher: The characters and storyline are what makes the game special. Even if Gillian physically resembles Deckard from Blade Runner, it’s still comes across as unique and believable. There are other “homage” characters included in Snatch - I’ll just name Dune and Sting as a clue for when you meet certain individual during the game. The Snatchers are pretty smart for being just biodroids, and they are pretty cunning and dangerous too!
- NEC PC-8801 and MSX2 (1988)
- PC-Engine (Remake 1992)
- Sega CD (1994)
- PSX and Sega Saturn (1996)
Visually the Sega CD version is pretty good and creates a great cyberpunk world with shadows and dark colors. The Sega version is obviously better than the 1988 versions which still make the task pretty well. The Sega voices are part of the remake versions that came from 1992 forward. The later version also have a better soundtrack.
The Availability: In terms of availability, get it from Internet or buy it used. The better and easier version to get is the Sega CD version as is the only original English translation available and you can find it on P2P programs. There are older roms translated, but the Sega CD version is better.
The Verdict: This review came about due to a reply I made to a Deus Ex post, saying someone should review Snatcher. Then I remembered I was half in the game. I picked it up again, started to play, and finished it that same afternoon. I liked it so much that I wanted to contribute with a review. While engrossed in the gameplay, when I realized the game was close completion, I just hoped another event would make the storyline longer. Despite being from all the way back in 1988, it’s #9 on the Best Cyberpunk Game List, so it deserves a try. I just gave it 9 stars because is older and the gameplay may not be for players who prefer more action. Anyways for me personally is 10/10 stars and modern remake would kick ass! Bottom line, this game is amazing, and has great storyline, and actually makes you feel you are in the cyberpunked city of Neo Kobe.