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Welcome everyone, to the second installment of Source Gaming’s newest segment – Veterans in Memoriam. Here, we will share our memories of the character, and what they brought to Smash, while also speculating on reasons they may have been cut from Smash for Wii U and 3DS. Those who read our first article on Wolf O’Donnel may have seen a tease of sorts for today’s subject: the legendary Solid Snake of the Metal Gear franchise. We’ll discuss everything that Snake brought to Super Smash Bros. Brawl, from his franchise representation in Smash, to his unique moveset, to his historic impact on the series. We’ll also address the Metal Gear Rex in the room in regards to his exclusion from Smash’s newest installment.
Who is Snake:
The year was 1987, and up and coming game developer Hideo Kojima was tasked with creating a military action game for the MSX2 home computer. Unfortunately, the MSX was not capable of having a large number of objects on screen without significant repercussions, forcing the concept to be redesigned. Metal Gear became a game about avoiding combat, and it was a stark contrast to everything else in the industry at the time. Its novelty was enough to grant it a sequel, though the franchise’s first widespread release outside of Japan was Metal Gear Solid. The gaming world shifted from pixels to polygons, and Metal Gear Solid took full advantage of this, allowing Hideo Kojima to take from his roots as a fanatic of American movies through a cinematic cutscene-based story that would influence many video games today.
The game was instantly a huge hit, and would make Kojima one of the first and only auteur developers in the industry, and future installments in the series would only increase this sentiment. The game’s highly anticipated sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, threw players for a loop by playing as Raiden – a completely new character: fighting such dastardly foes as Vamp and Fatman. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater took the series back almost fifty years in time playing as Big Boss. The series would continue, culminating with 2015’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Snake in Brawl:
At E3 2006, the third installment of the Super Smash Bros series was finally shown to the public as “the Brawl to end them all”, and at the end of the trailer, a certain someone received a Codec call. Solid Snake of the Metal Gear Solid series had joined the Brawl, and for the first time, Smash Bros ventured outside the world of Nintendo into video games as a whole. Now it was possible for any video game character to appear in Smash. Making Snake one of the first revealed characters was truly a great business decision, as it opened up the floodgates for speculation, which in conjunction with the Brawl Dojo was used to market the game. Snake was given the red carpet treatment both in advertising and within Brawl itself.
While his design was based on Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, his face and all of his alternate costumes were from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in the form of various camouflage outfits. If Snake’s taunt was performed correctly on this stage, it would trigger unique codec conversations for the entire cast featuring Colonel Campbell, Otacon, and Mei Ling reprising their roles from Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. Brawl also featured a remix of Metal Gear Solid 4’s Theme of Love and cameos of the mysterious new Metal Gear Gekko, predating their appearance in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which would be released later that year.
Snake was originally going to sneak his way into Melee, but due to time constraints and possibly legal limitations, it was ultimately scrapped. However, after Kojima literally begging the character to be included since his son was a fan of the Smash Bros series, Nintendo and Konami were finally persuaded to work out the legal details so Snake could join the Brawl. During development, Sakurai’s design philosophy of creating a comprehensive fighter while still remaining true to their series was put to the test. Realistic weapons such as knives, guns, and automatic weapons were strictly prohibited, so Snake’s moveset was composed of his more eccentric weapons such as Nikita missiles and mortar strikes, and even then, many details are made to ensure that his moveset stays faithful to his series.
Like in the Metal Gear Solid series, C4 can be placed on walls or on enemies, grenades can be thrown in multiple directions, and Nikita missiles will somewhat increase their speed after being left alone for a moment. Even Snake’s cardboard box makes an appearance and actually has its own hitbox; throwing off enemies when properly used, just like in Metal Gear Solid. Many players would argue that Snake’s moveset is not only the most unique in Brawl, but in the series as a whole. In the metagame, Snake was second only to the unstoppable Meta Knight, and was the subject of many character specific techniques, many of which coming from just one move, like his down throw, mortar strikes, or side tilt.
The Future for Snake:
Though it had been alluded to before, Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS was given a proper reveal at E3 2013, along with the iconic Mega Man, whose announcement was very similar to that of Snake’s. With Sonic the Hedgehog announced the following October, the presence of Snake was unknown, but not in a good way. In a March 2014 interview, Hideo Kojima commented on Snake’s inclusion in Smash, stating: “I’m not working on that game so I don’t know, but I don’t think that’s likely. Well, if Mr. Sakurai is watching this, please use Snake.” This attitude was further accentuated by Kojima through various offhand tweets light heartedly mentioning the subject. Many fans still held out hope, knowing that if there is one developer who loves to surprise his audience more than Sakurai, it’s Kojima. Though it was ultimately true, the infamous ESRB Leak falsely stated that Snake, along with Wolf, Lucas, the Ice Climbers, and Chorus Men would be DLC characters. When Smash Bros for 3DS was released, Snake was nowhere to be found, so fans turned to the possibility of his return as a downloadable character, but beneath the surface, a new Cold War was brewing.
The Great Recession of 2009 affected citizens, governments, and businesses throughout the world, and even the escapist-centered video game industry fell victim to it. Konami, as a multi industry conglomerate suffered too, including its video game branch, reporting a 24% net revenue decline from 2009 in their Digital Entertainment Division in Konami’s 2010 End of Year Financial report. After a small dip in 2011, mobile games such as Dragon Collection were the main factor of increasing Konami’s net income by nearly 80% in 2012. Though it is unconfirmed and should be treated as pure speculation, a popular theory regarding the dip in net revenue of Konami’s Digital Entertainment Division during the following years could be largely attributed to the lengthy and expensive production of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
In March 2014, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was released to generally favorable sales and reviews, though it was criticized for its short length, and could have possibly considered to be an instance of Konami forcing Kojima to release it on its own in order to have something to sell in the video game console market. Though some may speculate that this was the beginning of tensions between Konami and Kojima, he was able to work with friends Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus on P.T. (Playable Teaser), later discovered to be Silent Hills when it was released just a few months after Ground Zeroes.
As The Phantom Pain was in the meat of development in early 2015, power struggles between Kojima and the recently corporately restructured Konami became apparent. Kojima’s name and production company were removed from all Metal Gear Solid V branding, and Kojima Productions was renamed to Konami Los Angeles Studio. Cameras were installed to monitor employees, and developers who were thought of in need of punishment were forced to work menial labor. Frequent moving of desks, power outages, and public shaming over extra long lunch breaks were all measures taken to get workers to quit on their own terms. Those who did not quit were reduced to contractors rather than full employees. Konami was hesitant to make a definite stance on the matter, responding with vague PR statements. Finally, in April of 2015 Konami would announce that P.T. would be removed from the PlayStation Network, making the game unable to ever download again and causing a brief spike in eBay prices for PS4s with P.T. downloaded onto them before announcing the project’s official cancellation soon after.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain released on September 1st, 2015 to rave reviews and sales. While the game sold over three million units in its first week, financial magazine Forbes speculated that it needed to sell a total of five to six million to make back its total expenses. As Smash Bros fans were gearing up to see the Final Video Presentation for Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain received “Best Action Game” at the 2015 Game Awards. Hideo Kojima’s absence from the event was soon explained by journalist Geoff Keighley, stating that Konami strictly forbade him from attending the event. Bayonetta was announced as the Smash Ballot winner along with unexpected newcomer Corrin in the Smash Bros Final Video Presentation. Kojima soon brought back Kojima Productions and announced a partnership with Sony. There was now no chance of Snake getting in, and his absence was truly a phantom pain.
Snake is the only character to have nothing in Smash for 3DS/Wii U. He has no tomorrow. Wolf, the Ice Climbers, Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Pichu all have a trophy in Smash for 3DS/ Wii U, something to leave behind. Even Young Link is mentioned in the “Adult Link (Ocarina of Time)” trophy. Snake, the Metal Gear universe, and Konami are all completely absent from Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS, but minor traces are present. When introducing Palutena’s Guidance in the 50 Fact Extravaganza, Snake’s Codecs are directly referenced. After Bayonetta’s announcement, Sakurai stated that “This (Smash Ballot) ranking includes even fighters from previous games in the series.” Throughout the course of speculation, every argument to why Snake should not be in the game had a counterargument. “The Phantom Pain not releasing on Nintendo consoles was the same disposition as during Brawl’s development when Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was exclusive to PlayStation 3!” “Snake Eater 3D was a 3DS exclusive that came out just a few years ago!” “It’s possible that they started developing the character before all the drama about Konami started!” Snake fans moved along, hoping for the day they may see new light. In the end, their wishes are currently unfulfilled.
Sakurai and Kojima were both unable to let Snake come back to Smash. Two old friends had to adapt to something they didn’t want to because of a petty political affair out of their control, ultimately caused by the painful progression of time. Snake is the only third party character to be cut out of Smash, and that really begs the question: “What will happen to the other third parties in the future?” Smash Bros has some of the finest characters in all of the gaming industry, and that cast can’t remain completely intact. The newest installment contains Mega Man, Pac Man, Ryu, and Cloud Strife, just to name a few. What guarantees that these companies won’t burn their bridges in the years to come like Konami has? Nothing.
As we move through time, things are gained, and things are lost. This cast of characters that people care immensely about all in one union together is a very temporary thing. It’s unlikely that Snake will ever return to Super Smash Bros, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t ever there. The Smash Bros community shows why it’s important to cherish each game as its own. People are still discovering new things in Melee over ten years after its release as just one example. It’s important that even with Smash Bros, we pass the torch. The things we make, the inspirations we take, and the memories we create from Smash are what each of us will leave behind in our legacy.
All-around terrible person jedisquidward can be found on various social media (goes by jedisquidward on everything including Smashladder), and gives special thanks to John Zittel for his help editing. He is more than willing to 1v1 someone in Smash at anytime or anyplace, especially Smash 4 (ROB Main) or Project M (Snake Main).