is a cyberpunk
-themed adventure game
published by Konami
and originally written and directed by Hideo Kojima
. It was first released in Japan
for the NEC PC-8801
computer platforms, followed by a remade CD-ROM
version for the PC Engine
, as well versions for the PlayStation
and Sega Saturn
. An English
version was released for the Sega CD/Mega-CD
in North America
It has gained a small cult following due to its mature storytelling, adult themes and (in later versions) voice acting.
A series of projects yet to be announced are currently in production and are tentatively titled Project 'S'; for now only a radio drama has been confirmed.
The game is set in a primarily first person perspective and uses a menu-based interface that allows the protagonist (Gillian Seed) to interact with his environment. The player can choose to "Look", "Investigate", "Talk", "Ask" and "Move" (in addition to other options) to acquire key items or receive vital information from other characters. The player can analyze items in Gillian's belongings or show it to other characters. The player uses Metal Gear (Gillian's robotic assistant) to communicate with other characters via a videophone
or save their current progress. During key points of the game's story, the player must pass shooting sequences to defend Gillian from assailants. These shooting segments uses a 3x3 grid which the player can target to fire at enemies. A shooting trainer, called "Junker's Eyes", is accessible at Junker HQ that allows the player to measure their accuracy.
Plot and Setting
On June 6, 1996 (1991 in the Japanese versions), a chemical weapon known as Lucifer-Alpha under development in Chernoton, Russia
, is released into the atmosphere, resulting in the death of 80% of the Eurasian and Eastern European population which in turn results in the death of half of the world's population. The contaminated area becomes uninhabitable for a decade, when Lucifer-Alpha mutates into a non-lethal form. This tragic event later becomes known as "the Catastrophe".
Fifty years later, a breed of artificial life-forms or bioroids known as "snatchers" began appearing in the artificial island of Neo Kobe City, killing their victims and taking their place in society. Nobody knows exactly what they are or where they come from. As Gillian Seed, an amnesiac working for an Anti-Snatcher task force called J.U.N.K.E.R., the player's goal is to track down the source of the snatchers and discover Gillian's mysterious connections with them.
''Note: All spellings used are from the English-language Sega CD version.
- The protagonist. An amnesiac with mysterious ties to the "Snatcher" menace. He joins JUNKER as its newest "Runner" (a type of field operative).
- The receptionist at JUNKER HQ. A young attractive woman of Japanese and Jewish descent.
- JUNKER's commanding chief. A special forces veteran.
- JUNKER's mechanic. He survived the Catastrophe with the help of a Dr. Petrovich when he was a child. Designer of the robotic navigators "Little John" and "Metal Gear Mk. II".
- Gillian's robotic sidekick. A "navigator" who serves as an on-site forensic analizer and has a built-in videophone. He is modelled after the Metal Gear mecha which appears in the eponymous video game. A similar robot appears in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
- Gibson is the only other living field operative of JUNKER at the start of the story. He has a robotic navigator of his own called Little John, which unlike Metal Gear, was not programmed with a voice.
- Gillian's estranged wife, who was found alongside him, with no recollection of her past. Employed at Neo Kobe Pharmaceuticals at the start of the game.
- A mysterious bounty hunter who assists Gillian during the course of the story. Rides a one-wheeled motorcycle known as the "Road Runner".
- An informant who suffers from a constant allergy.
- Jean Jack's young daughter. Works as a model.
- The Director of Queens Hospital.
- A Russian scientist who was involved in a top secret Soviet project prior to the events of the Catastrophe.
Act 1: Snatch
The first act of the game deals with Gillian's first day on the job as a JUNKER (Judgement Uninfected Naked Kind and Execute Ranger
in the Japanese version; Japanese Undercover Neuro Kinetic Elimination Ranger
in the English version), trying to solve the murder of a fellow JUNKER operative and learns some information about the Snatchers.
Act 2: Cure
In the second act Gillian investigates the whereabouts of one of the Snatchers' bases of operation. The PC-88 and MSX2 versions end the game at this point.
Act 3: Junk
The third act, which is first introduced in the PC Engine version and included in every subsequent version, reveals the truth about Gillian's past and his relationship to the Snatcher menace, as well as the origin of both the Snatcher menace and the events that transpired the Catastrophe.
Snatcher was first released in 1988 for the NEC PC-8801 (on November 26) and MSX2 (December 13) computer platforms. The first versions were released on floppy disks and were entirely text-based with no voice acting. The MSX version came packaged with a proprietary audio cartridge to match the music and sound effects of the PC-88 version. Due to time constraints, the developers were forced to truncate the story at the end of Act 2, leaving out the originally planned ending. Konami released a spinoff titled SD Snatcher for the MSX2 on April 27, 1990. SD Snatcher, an RPG, features an alternate version of the original Snatcher storyline with its own ending.
Snatcher was remade on CD-ROM for the PC Engine under the title of Snatcher: CD-ROMantic, released on October 23, 1992. This version, in addition to offering improved graphics and audio, added voice acting during key portions of the game, as well as Act 3, the planned ending that was not included in the early PC versions. Konami preceded release of Snatcher with a Pilot Disk (released on August 7) containing a playable portion of the game, a trailer-like preview, a database of characters and mechanics of the game, among other features. This was the last version of the game developed by the original team, including Hideo Kojima himself.
In 1996, Snatcher was ported to the PlayStation (February 12) and Sega Saturn (March 29). These two 32-bit versions added slightly redone graphics, a CG animated opening and other subtle changes (most of them derived from the English Sega CD version). Most of the graphic violence were censored in these versions and some of the graphics and all of the music were redone.
An English localization of Snatcher was produced for the Sega CD (or Mega-CD) in North America and Europe, both versions released on December 1994. The Sega CD port was produced specifically for the overseas market and was ported from the PC Engine version. The script was translated by Scott T. Hards, with Jeremy Blaustein (who would later translate Metal Gear Solid) supervising the localization. This version adds support for Konami's Justifier light gun peripheral for the shooting segments.
Several changes were made to conform with the different censorship standards outside Japan, mainly due to sexual content. Katrina's age was changed from 14 in the Japanese version to 18 in the English version (due to a nude shower scene she has in the game) and the exposed breast of a dead Snatcher was covered up. A scene featured in the PC Engine, which depicts a dying dog twitching with its internal organs exposed was redone so the dog is no longer twitching. The clientele at the Outer Heaven night club, which were originally parodies of popular sci-fi characters, were changed to Konami characters to avoid any potential copyright infringement. The naked Snatchers were also redesigned to lessen the resemblance with the Terminator robot: their endoskeletons were repainted with olive-colored body parts and their red eyes were changed to green.
The Sega CD version adds an extended opening intro (adapted from the introductory manga story featured in the manual) and Act 3 was revised to allow more interaction with the player. The ending is extended with the addition of Katrina and Mika in the game's final scene, as well as a cameo from Napoleon.
According to Blaustein, the Sega CD version of Snatcher only sold a "couple of thousand units" in North America. He attributes the game's commercial failure due to Sega's waning support of the add-on at the time of the game's release.