Remembering gaming's greatest moments
[Back in April of 2007, former Destructoid writer Chad Concelmo started a recurring series called "The Memory Card." The purpose was simple -- to share some of the greatest events in gaming history, and give them the respect they deserve. But in 2011 the series ended with no resurrection date in sight...until now. With Chad's blessing, please join us for Season 6 of the Memory Card - Chris.]
It wouldn't be a true season of the Memory Card for me unless I touched on one of my favorite franchises of all time. You know, that one, filled with fantastic tales of tactical espionage action.
The Metal Gear franchise, Solid or otherwise, is packed full of some of the most emotional moments in all of gaming. Whether it's the first time you encountered Psycho Mantis or the last time you'll ever encounter The Boss, tears and screams of joy have been had over the franchise's many classic entries.
But one particular event stood out for me after playing Metal Gear Solid in late 1998. It was an event that was never shown on-screen, but had a lasting impact on me for years to come. It was the first time a videogame had pulled the wool over my eyes, and as a result, I felt utterly betrayed, and ready for revenge.
It simultaneously fueled my desire to complete my mission, and broke my spirit. That doesn't happen often in a game. Such is the Solid series.
From the start of Metal Gear Solid's opening act, it's made very clear that you're going at it alone. Tasked with infiltrating a remote island in Alaska, your only hope resides on a small group of individuals by way of codec frequencies -- which is hardly a substitute for real, human contact.
Until you meet your on-again off-again partner Meryl, it's a very isolated, emotional experience, as Solid does a great job of making you feel hopeless at every turn. Limited ammo, larger-than-life bosses, and contacts that die mere moments after you meet them all contribute to the mentally-draining exercise that is operation Shadow Moses.
But there's one person who remains constant -- a shining light in the dark shroud that Liquid, your nemesis, has created. That light is none other than Kazuhira "Master" Miller, Solid Snake's close friend and confidant -- and by extension, your companion. After entering that first vent and opening contact with him, I was immediately drawn to Miller's aura, and his cocksure attitude.
It was a stark contrast to the urgent tone of your commanding officer Colonel Campbell, and data analyst Mei Ling's almost too calm demeanor. Miller was a survival coach through and through, and I trusted him to help me get the job done.
Until that moment...
It began innocently enough. Towards the end of the game I was nearing ever closer to my objective: to topple Liquid's plans and stop an international incident from occurring by way of Metal Gear Rex -- a mobile nuclear missile launcher. After being told exactly how to shut down Rex by my trusted mentor, I put my plan into action, and enacted the shutdown sequence. Then a bombshell blew everything I thought I knew wide open.
Miller was not only dead, murdered by a nameless assassin, but I had just activated Rex and potentially sealed the fate of countless nations. There was no "Master Miller" -- it was Liquid Snake the entire time.
This might not sound like a big deal, but I was 12 years old when I encountered this fateful day, and I wasn't used to getting tricked in any form of media. Although I had experienced "twists" in the film industry, nothing quite compares to a building of trust for over 10 hours through direct conversations, only to be betrayed at that final moment.
To pour salt in the wound, Master Miller had moved to Alaska to live in solitude -- helping out the locals and spending time with his huskies like any normal human being. Although it was clear he had spent time in combat and possibly had done things he wasn't proud of, he was still someone I could trust. There were hints -- I just didn't see them. If you try to contact Miller while fighting Liquid Snake's Hind D, he won't answer. Perhaps if I had relied on him even more than I already had, I would have uncovered the secret before it was too late.
But at that point, I had to finish the mission alone. Right back where I started.
Metal Gear Solid director Hideo Kojima caused me to question everything. Although many games didn't actually use the same brilliant tactics employed in the Solid series, I was put on edge, and still am to this day. It's a mindset that's served me well, especially with the Souls series, where you can't trust anything.
Solid pulls a lot of tricks throughout its experience. It breaks the fourth wall and scans your memory card. It makes you panic when you realize that you rented the game and can't locate Meryl's codec frequency that's on the back of the case, forcing you to call a friend or run out and buy the game yourself while your PlayStation is on, hoping your Mom doesn't turn it off.
At the end of the day, Metal Gear Solid not only tests your resolve, but it questions what it means to be a videogame. Games don't always have to adhere to your rules, and they don't always have to play on your side. That's one of the main reasons why I love the Solid series -- it keeps you guessing.
No matter what, you're always going to go into a franchise iteration knowing that something is askew. It could be at the end of the game; it could be at the beginning. But some way or another, something is going to happen that throws your whole world off balance.
We all have different reactions to any given event. Some of you may have brushed this off and said "I knew it the whole time!" But for me, on that winter's day in 1998, I had a life-changing moment.
And I'll always have Kojima to thank for it.
The Memory Card Save Files
.01: The return of Baby Metroid (Super Metroid)
.02: Palom and Porom's noble sacrifice (Final Fantasy IV)
.03: The encounter with Psycho Mantis (Metal Gear Solid)
.04: The heir of Daventry (King's Quest III: To Heir is Human)
.05: Pey'j is captured (Beyond Good & Evil)
.06: The Opera House (Final Fantasy VI)
.07: Attack of the zombie dog! (Resident Evil)
.08: A twist on a classic (Metroid: Zero Mission)
.09: A Christmas gift (Elite Beat Agents)
.10: To the moon, Mario! (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island)
.11: The Solitary Island (Final Fantasy VI)
.12: Wander's brave friend (Shadow of the Colossus)
.13: The submerged letter (StarTropics)
.14: The legend of Tetra (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker)
.15: Snake pulls the trigger (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
.16: Riding under the missiles (Contra III: The Alien Wars)
.17: Hover bike madness! (Battletoads)
.18: Syldra's final cry (Final Fantasy V)
.19: Death by ... grappling beam? (Super Metroid)
.20: The message in the glass (BioShock)
.21: Crono's final act (Chrono Trigger)
.22: Ganon's tower (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
.23: It was all a dream? (Super Mario Bros. 2)
.24: The assimilation of Kerrigan (StarCraft)
.25: A McCloud family reunion (Star Fox 64)
.26: The return of Rydia (Final Fantasy IV)
.27: The battle with the Hydra (God of War)
.28: Fight for Marian's love! (Double Dragon)
.29: The Hunter attacks (Half-Life 2: Episode 2)
.30: The Phantom Train (Final Fantasy VI)
.31: The end of The End (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
.32: In Tentacle We Trust (Day of the Tentacle)
.33: Peach dances with TEC (Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door)
.34: Learning to wall jump (Super Metroid)
.35: A leap of faith (Ico)
.36: The Master Sword (The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past)
.37: Thinking outside the DS (Hotel Dusk: Room 215)
.38: Running outside the castle (Super Mario 64)
.39: Del Lago! (Resident Evil 4)
.40: In memoriam (Lost Odyssey)
.41: The tadpole prince (Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars)
.42: Pyramid Head! (Silent Hill 2)
.43: Waiting for Shadow (Final Fantasy VI)
.44: Solid vs. Liquid (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
.45: The birth of the cutscene (Ninja Gaiden)
.46: Insult swordfighting (The Secret of Monkey Island)
.47: A castle stuck in time (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker)
.48: 'That's the magic flute!' (The Wizard)
.49: Saving Santa (Secret of Mana)
.50: A shocking loss (Half-Life 2: Episode Two)
.51: The flying cow (Earthworm Jim)
.52: Blind the Thief (The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past)
.53: The nuclear blast (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare)
.54: Microwaving the hamster (Maniac Mansion)
.55: The fate of Lucca's mother (Chrono Trigger)
.56: A fiery demise? (Portal)
.57: Jade's moment of silence (Beyond Good & Evil)
.58: The Great Mighty Poo (Conker's Bad Fur Day)
.59: With knowledge comes nudity (Leisure Suit Larry III)
.60: Flint's rage (Mother 3)
.61: The dream of the Wind Fish (The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening)
.62: Leaving Midgar (Final Fantasy VII)
.63: Auf Wiedersehen! (Bionic Commando)
.64: Death and The Sorrow (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
.65: A glimpse into the future (Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter)
.66: Taloon the merchant (Dragon Quest IV)
.67: Scaling the waterfall (Contra)
.68: Anton's love story (Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box)
.69: TKO! BJ! LOL! (Ring King)
.70: Giant robot fish! (Mega Man 2)
.71: The rotating room (Super Castlevania IV)
.72: The collapsing building (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)
.73: Death by funnel (Phantasmagoria)
.74: Crono's trial (Chrono Trigger)
.75: The blind fighting the blind (God of War II)
.76: Brotherly love (Mother 3)
.77: Prince Froggy (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island)
.78: The statue of a hero (Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride)
.79: Inside the worm (Gears of War 2)
.80: The return to Shadow Moses (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
.81: A prayer for Ness (EarthBound)
.82: Yuna's empty embrace (Final Fantasy X)
.83: Blast Processing! (Sonic the Hedgehog)
.84: A royal assist (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker)
.85: You have chosen ... wisely (Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis)
.86: Death is final (Fire Emblem)
.87: A Snake in a microwave (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
.88: The mark of a THIEF (The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening)
.89: MEAT 'SPLOSION! ('Splosion Man)
.90: In her father's Shadow (Final Fantasy VI)
.91: A sniper rifle and a telephone (Grand Theft Auto IV)
.92: Sacrificing Yoshi (Super Mario World)
.93: Language barrier (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)
.94: Death is impossible (Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge)
.95: The jeep chase (Metal Gear Solid)
.96: Farewell, Klonoa (Klonoa: Door to Phantomile)
.97: Geography lesson (Little King's Story)
.98: Killing Medusa (Final Fantasy Adventure)
.99: The Marston legacy (Red Dead Redemption)
.100: Where it all began...
.101: Ornstein & Smough (Dark Souls)
.102: The Memory Card .102: The Murder of Master Miller (Metal Gear Solid)