Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snatcher - Sega CD digital novel/action/adventure game


I have always wanted to sit down and play through Snatcher as I am a pretty big early Hideo Kojima fan (enjoying everything up to the end of the tanker scene in Metal Gear Solid 2) and since I am on a bit of a vintage console kick at the moment, I decided to take the plunge and dive right in.

Snatcher is a kind of action/adventure/digital novel, created for a number of platforms, including the MSX2, PC-Engine and the Sega CD, which is the version I decided to play as it is the version the team put the most into, with an extra chapter at the end and better graphics and voice acting than the other games.

The voice acting is actually very, very good and must ahve been pretty unbelieveable when it came out. Although I knew a couple people who had Sega CD systems back in the day, none of them had or even knew about Snatcher. In fact, most of the guys that had Sega CD systems were envied instantly, and then much less so when you got a chance to play the games on the system and we pretty much wrote it off after that, looking forward to the Playstation and its generation.


The game borrows heavily from Blade Runner and cyberpunk concepts of the time, but the plot is neither trite nor does it feel recycled. Right from the get go, you feel involved in the story and want to see what happens next, kind of a page-turner if you were to think of it as a novel, but definately an engrossing experience as a game.

And that's really what grabs you in this game - the writing. It is very well composed and deep, exposing character faults and moving the plot forward with a deft stroke which never seems heavy-handed. It's also very much geared toward a mature crowd, with pretty gory scenes at times and startling music. Even the music that plays outside Jean's house is dramatic and immediate feeling, making you want to keep progressing forward.


The graphics are really very good, especially for the time, with a distinct style that tries to stay mature and away from anime stereotypes. I'm a huge fan of Japanese animation from this time period, especially the cyberpunk classic Bubblegum Crisis, and this game very much pays tribute to that kind of cyberpunk world. The city feels gritty, the backgrounds are stark but colorful and the city is filled with Neo-Kobe's archetecture in such a way that you actually feel connected to it.

I played it until midnight last night and went to bed, really wanting to see what happened next and woke up thinking about it, ready for the next chapter in the adventure. I'm enjoying the hell out of it and will hopefully finish it today.

What's really dissapointing about the game is that it hasn't been re-released on any other more modern console. There has a been a hacked, proof-of-concept demo available for DS flash carts, showing that it will run and actually look good on the DS just fine, but nothing from the Konami or Kojima camp.

It feels a little like a lost franchise, one that Kojima probably had to let go to keep plodding along with Metal Gear, which is unfortunate. We can only hope that with all of the Capcom remakes, someone at Konmai wakes up, sets two or three guys on it and we get a true classic, re-released for more modern - and much smaller - systems.

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