Snatcher is a cyberpunk-themed adventure game. It has gained a small cult following due to its mature storytelling, adult themes and, in later versions, voice acting. It was heavily influenced by various sci-fi and noir films, especially Blade Runner.
Snatcher was written and directed by Hideo Kojima. It was developed and published by Konami. Originally released in Japan for the NEC PC-8801 and MSX2 in 1988, it was remade for the PC-Engine in 1992 and ported to the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1996. A Sega CD version was also produced specifically for English localization in North America, which was also released in the PAL region for European counterpart, the Mega CD.
It later got a radio drama in 2011, titled Suda51's SDatcher. It was produced by Kojima Productions, and Kojima himself acted as the project's drama planner.
On June 6, 1991 (1996 in the English version), 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 lifeforms, 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 JUNKER, the player's goal is to track down the source of the snatchers and discover Gillian's mysterious connections with them.
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
The second act is a continuation of the investigation from the first act. In this act, Gillian learns the true motives of the Snatcher menace and also learns a shocking truth about JUNKER headquarters. 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.
The Metal Gear Mk. II will have a differently shaped body, four bodies depending on the version.
Cast of characters
- Gillian Seed - The protagonist. An amnesiac with mysterious ties to the "Snatcher" menace. He joins JUNKER as its newest "Runner", a type of field operative.
- Mika Slayton - The receptionist at JUNKER HQ. A young attractive woman of Japanese and Jewish descent.
- Benson Cunningham (Cunningum in the Japanese versions) - JUNKER's commanding chief. A veteran in the special forces. He is mentioned in game to be a former member of FOXHOUND
- Harry Benson- JUNKER's mechanic. A survivor of the Catastrophe. Designer of the robotic navigators "Little John" and "Metal Gear Mk. II." He also supplies Gillian with his blaster.
- Metal Gear Mk. II - Gillian's robotic sidekick. A "navigator" who serves as an on-site forensic analyzer and has a built-in videophone. He is modeled after the Metal Gear mecha which appears in the video game of the same name, specifically the TX-55. A similar robot appears in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
- Jean Jack Gibson - 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. He is found dead by Gillian and Metal, his head completely wrenched off of his body by snatchers.
Other main characters
- Jamie Seed - 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.
- Randam Hajile (Spelt "Random Hajile" in the Sega CD version) - A mysterious bounty hunter who is after the snatchers himself. Rides a one-wheeled motorcycle known as the "Road Runner". His name is "Elijah Madnar/Modnar" spelt backwards and resembles a younger Elijah.
- Napoleon - Gibson's informant. A Chinese immigrant who suffers from a constant allergy from SNOW-9, similar to how winter was part of the Emperor Napoleon's downfall, hence the name.
- Katrina Gibson - Jean Jack's young daughter. Works as a model. Her house is attacked by snatchers later on in the game but she manages to find refuge in Gillian's apartment.
- Isabella Velvet - An award-winning film actress who also works as a dancer at the "Outer Heaven" night club.
- Freddy Nielsen - A freelance Taxi Driver suspected of being a snatcher.
- Lisa Nielsen - Freddy's young wife.
- Ivan Rodriguez - An amateur air surfer also suspected of being a snatcher.
- Chin Shu Oh - The Director of Queens Hospital.
- Elijah Madnar - A Russian scientist involved in a top secret Soviet project prior to the events of the Catastrophe.
- Petrovich Madnar - Elijah's father, also a scientist. He fled from the Soviet Union alongside a young Harry Benson at the time of the Catastrophe. Shares his name with a character from the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
Allusions to the Metal Gear series
Because of Snatcher being created by Hideo Kojima, there were at least two allusions to the Metal Gear franchise in his work.
- As noted above, the Metal Gear Mk. II and Petrovich Madnar are based on the TX-55 Metal Gear and Dr. Petrovich (Dr. Madnar), respectively.
- One of the locations was the Outer Heaven night club, named after the mercenary nation-state and military base of the same name.
Allusions in the Metal Gear series
Also for the same reasons as above, there are also some allusions to Snatcher in the Metal Gear franchise itself.
- The rumored project that Madnar was involved in that turned Big Boss into a cyborg was codenamed "Project Snatcher," after the titular menace in the game.
- The main antagonist of the IdeaSpy 2.5, a radio drama within Metal Gear: Ghost Babel's Japanese and European releases, was named Junker Expensive of America, after the protagonistic group within Snatcher.
- The same company was also mentioned in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots as the name of the company responsible for the creation of the Arsenal Compress item.
- Chernoton, Russia was mentioned as being the original target for REX's stealth nuke before Liquid changed the trajectory to Lop Nor, China.
- Lt. Benson Cunningham was reused for a character in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and its expansion pack, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus, although with a noticably different design and personality. In addition, his NTSC passcode is a direct reference to Snatcher (JUNKER).
- The Metal Gear Mk. II in Metal Gear Solid 4 was based on the same robotic buddy from Snatcher, itself based on the TX-55 Metal Gear from Metal Gear.
- Also in Metal Gear Solid 4, Solid Snake's appearance in Third Sun is identical to Gillian Seed's appearance in Snatcher.
- In the mission "Jamais Vu" for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Raiden has to fight off Body-Snatchers enemies at the United States Naval Prison Facility in Cuba. This was deliberate, as the mission was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Snatcher. In addition, one of the songs included in the collectible tape "Jamais Vu" was the song "Pleasure of Tension" from the same game. It was also given a lesser reference in the mission equivalent "Déjà Vu" for the same game, where Miller will identify the "snowfall" at Cuba while playing with the Classic Snake or Cyborg Ninja skins as "the SNOW-9 pollen," referring to the material from the Snatcher franchise.
Images of Metal Gear Mk. II captured by EndofBeyond.tumblr.com
- Hardcore Gaming 101 - Article on the game and regional differences with photos.
- Play-through by Slowbeef