Gamers Today: When you started out, your first games were for the MSX computer?
Hideo Kojima: Yes. When I joined Konami in 1986, I started with the MSX division.
GT: Was Metal Gear your first game?
HK: Metal Gear was the first game that was released. There was this other game that I developed that never made it to the market--Lost World. The title was world but with war like a cross between war and world. It was a Mario-esque action game with a story.
GT: Was there much difference between Metal Gear for MSX and Metal Gear for Famicom?
HK: When my MSX Metal Gear came out, it was very well received. Then it was ported to the Famicom, but I had nothing to do with the actual porting.
GT: Were they pretty much the same game, though?
HK: I really don't like saying this, but it really wasn't up to my standards. The care that I put in the original wasn't there. It [the Famicom version] was a more difficult game. In the very beginning, when you go from the entrance into the fortress, for example, there are dogs there. In the Famicom version, the dogs just come after you and you get killed. It was too difficult to get into the fortress. The fun stealth element was not there, and the actual Metal Gear, the robot, doesn't appear in the game.
GT: I never made it to the end of Metal Gear. Where did you get the idea for the game?
HK: A lot of factors have sort of resulted in Metal Gear. One big influence was the movie The Great Escape.
I wanted to create a game [that played] like the movie, with the character running away· escaping without a fight and trying to avoid being seen by the enemy. I wanted to do that, but I couldn't get approval on that concept alone. I had to add more features.
After my first game, Lost Warld, was given a "no" by the company, I was told to create another war game. Creating a war game for MSX was a little difficult because of the limitation on the sprites. When you get four enemies or even four bullets on the screen at once, the screen starts blinking and it just doesn't work.
I tackled that problem by taking a different approach--hiding from enemies and not fighting them. That way I could limit the number of enemies and bullets showing on the screen at once.
GT: Were you satisfied with the MSX version of the game?
HK: It was my first game that made it to release, so I have a lot of memories. It's my cute boy in that sense. (A Japanese way of saying "my first child.") At the same time, I wasn't 100% satisfied with what I was able to create. I was only a rookie in the industry back then, and the programmers and sound designer were more experienced than I was. I'm not sure that I was able to utilize them to the fullest extent.
GT: If you could make any changes to the game, what changes would you have made to that original one back then?
HK: There were so many things I wanted to do to create in that first game. There were so many things I wanted to throw in, and I had no idea how long each process would take. You just couldn't fit it all in one game. I guess what I couldn't do back then. I did in my Playstation Metal Gear.
GT: Amazing what four times more processing power and a thousand times more storage can buy you.
GT: Was Snake's Revenge your next game?
HK: I had nothing to do with that game.
GT: Not with MSX or Famicom?
HK: I made Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, an MSX game.
GT: And the Famicom game, Snake's Revenge?
HK: No, that's completely different. When I was in this MSX division, this one guy in the Famicom division developed Snake's Revenge without talking to me or anybody else. One day this guy and I hopped on a train (the Tokyo transit system) together. We were talking to each other, and he says, "By the way, I'm developing this game called Snake's Revenge, but I know it's not the authentic Snake, so please create a new Snake game of your own." That was when I decided to create Metal Gear 2, Solid Snake.
GT: Interesting. What did you think of Snake's Revenge?
HK: I thought it was very faithful to the Metal Gear concept. I enjoyed it.
GT: You came up with some pretty unique names for your characters in Metal Gear such as your hero, Solid Snake. Where'd you get these names?
HK: From Escape From New York.
GT: Oh, Snake Plisskin, the Kurt Russell character.
HK: That is how I got the snake part. I guess the slithering of the snake is definitely not a solid motion. It's smoother, more liquid. I also wanted to create a paradoxical name.
GT: How about some of the other names, like Ocelot?