I'm back, horrible forms of life vegetating in front of the screen. Today you will read a review about an installment of one of the most recognizable series in the human history! If you ask me, in human history there is nothing before the creation of the books and after that exists a big jump to the creation of the videogames. The meal today is a review about the non-canonical MGS game for the GameBoy Color: Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel.
Let's look at the end of that previous paragraph: "...the non-canonical MGS game for the GameBoy Color: Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel." People, I've spent enough time wandering around this huge pile of evil called internet to know that most of the soulless geeks out there consider non-canonical books/videogames/movies/etc crap. I used to think that, but this game made made me change my opinion. How, you ask? Well, I think I'll have to tell the complete story. It isn't that long but if you want to make a sandwich and have a drink, I'll understand.
Everything begun 3 months ago (ending of 2009, summer). Thanks to some managerial problems in my university, all the official activities were frozen for a time of three weeks, So, there were 3 weeks without class in front of me. I spent the first 3 days in a reign of terror, kicking the ass of every single MTG player who crossed in my path, but after that I reminded my family that it had been a long time since my last epic 2D fighting battle against my brothers, or the last discussion with my father about what MGS character was better. In the end, the evil nostalgia monster caught me and I decided to go on a little journey back to my home to spend 1 or 2 weeks with my family.
However, my roommate has this little rule: If I'm not there to prevent it, he will destroy everything in his path to clean the room, so I had to clean my little disaster zone before leaving. While I was digging around I found my old GBC. Like any other interesting discovery, I told it to all the other guys in the residence. While I was doing that, my old pal Jim gave me this game.
So, there I was, trapped 10 hours on a bus with nothing better to do than play the non-canonical MGS. Luckily, god is by my side and looking deeper in my room I found "Pokemon Silver." Now, that is a good game. I took both Metal Gear and Pokemon and walked onto the bus.
Do you know how long 10 hours is? Some might think, "nah it's nothing," for me is quite difficult to stay still for at least 2 hours. Imagine how hard it was sitting on a bus from the 7 PM until 5 AM. So, I turned on the gbc and began to play Pokemon Silver. I had saved my game right before the fight versus the elite four. Half an hour later, I had already kicked their asses and I was beginning to look at MGSGB as a real option. I put the cartridge and luckily the batteries were dead. once again, god had given me a reason to not play the game.
Suddenly, three hours after the beginning of the journey, a shady voice burst from the speaker and said "Dear passengers, I'm the driver, now we are going to turn off the lights an put on a movie so you can calm down and sleep. Oh, and one last thing, if you don't like the movie just sleep, I don't want people complaining." The movie was no other than "Digimon x Evolution." I had a good time watching it before finally falling sleep, but no one could protect me from the evil storm of destiny.
At 3 AM the bus stopped. Some miles ahead, a truck full of chlorine had an accident and the area was deathly contaminated. The driver woke up the passengers and told them to buy whatever they needed to survive in a long line. I walked out and bought some sandwiches, 3 bottles of juice, and a some batteries, It was time to play MGSGB.
The story is on par with what you would expect from a "Metal Gear", but here goes a small summary anyway: We're in Gindra, a little country in the middle of Africa's armpit. From nowhere, a revolutionary/terrorist army headed by General Augustine Eguabon hijacked a Metal Gear prototype codenamed "Gander" and they plan to use it to finish (in genocidal fashion) the civil war in Gindra. But the little third-world country shan't fear, because the heroic USA is here to help! So, the beautiful American government sent an elite team of soldiers called the DELTA unit with the mission of clearing everything up and saving the day. Sadly, for the American government, 5 or 6 minutes after reaching the area, the DELTA Unit is ambushed and massacred by the terrorist faction known as Black Chamber. The US government might be weak of thinking and probably doesn't have any credibility; however they know what to do when they are beaten by a independent team of star commandos with a Metal Gear. They call Roy Campbell, and Roy Campbell calls Solid Snake. At the beginning, Snake plain refuses, but after some chatting with Roy Campbell, he changes his mind, and decides to go to Gindra, kick some asses, stop the Metal Gear and clean up the mess of the DELTA Unit.
Of course, maybe this isn't canonical, but after all is a Metal Gear, which means there are some plot twist, betrayal, surprises and a good end.
In essence, the game is a 2D level-based tactical espionage action game. That means you'll be stuck in a level full of bad guys and killing them isn't an option as it'll almost always bring more people. So, by elimination the best option is try to sneak without being noticed by them... as if that were easy. As a bonus, when do you finish a level, the game will give you a score from the worst (Terrible) to the best (Excellent) to show how well you performed in that level.
The gameplay is a beautiful mix of the old NES/MSX Metal Gear games, and the one of MGS for PSX. You're given the full range of 8-way movement and use the A button to strike enemies and walls, B to use the selected weapon, Start to crawl, and Select to display your inventory and CODEC menus. Now that we are talking about weapons and gear, I can tell you that there is a wide variety in both. Believe me when I say that the variety is enough to please every kind of player. Leaving behind the story mode, you also have other cool options such as the VR Training with all its fun options, and the mission mode where you can replay the missions that you have finished already with different objectives and new challenges.
Moving along, we reach an important point in the entire Metal Gear saga. The cast.... Yeah maybe these guys aren't based on some real actors, maybe they don't have voice acting, but they are good enough to have a place in this review. In the white corner, protecting the ideals and interests of America, the good people: Solid Snake, our brave Rambo-style hero, Roy Campbell, leader of the codec support team, Mei Ling, our beauty Chinese adventure recorder, McBride, an agent from the CIA with a great knowledge about the sociopolitical situation in gindra and weasel, a deadly mercenary with a lot of info about weapons.
In the black corner, the evil answer seekers, the lethal team even more dangerous than Foxhound, my second favorite Konami terrorist freak circus (the first place is of course for the Cobra unit) the Black Chamber comprised of: Slasher Hawk, the frightening Australian aborigine, Marionette Owl, the nocturne bunraku serial killer, Pyro Bison, the catholic pyromaniac who spends his time talking about doom, the vengeful cyborg leader black arts viper and there is another member, but his identity is a secret. Have fun discovering it. An interesting point about these guys is their perspective about death, all of them have their own way to die and this phenomenon was rather interesting to me.
The technical aspects of the game are well done for a GameBoy Color game. The graphics aren't gorgeous, but they are solid and do what they're supposed to do. The best part is the great animations. The music isn't bad, but is FREAKING repetitive. The sound effects are really good, but the sound of the codec is annoying. The game has its flaws, like the music or the annoying sound of the codec, but most of them are just because of the low power of the GBC. Because of that, I don't consider them real game-ruining flaws.
In the end, even if it isn't canon in the main timeline, Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel was a nice surprise. With its great levels, story and a well-tuned difficulty (even if my first playtrough was in easy, I saw the game over screen more than once). I would like to see a remake of this game in a more powerful console. Maybe then it'll earn the respect that deserves.