By 1999, the Cold War had thawed, and it seemed nuclear proliferation would soon be a thing of the past. Despite this, all was not well in the world. A military junta came to power in Zanzibar Land, a small nation bordering Russia, China, and Central Asia. After gaining its independence from Russia in the Mercenary War, Zanzibar Land began attacking nuclear weapons disposal sites around the world, seizing those weapons that were still intact, and becoming one of the world's few nuclear powers. It then began to invade its neighbors at will.
Meanwhile, a series of shocks to the oil market spurred the development of new high-tech energy sources, including fusion power. However, most vehicles still relied on oil for power. Oil reserves were at a critical low, and the world community was prepared to take drastic measures, either by drilling into sand and shale for more oil, despite the difficulty -- or moving on to renewable fuels. Such steps proved unnecessary when Czech scientist, Dr. Kio Marv, successfully bio-engineered a new species of algae, OILIX, that could produce petroleum-grade hydrocarbons with little expense and effort. Marv presented the algae to the World Energy Conference in Prague, and was on his way to a demonstration in the United States when he was kidnapped by agents of Zanzibar Land.
NATO discovered that Zanzibar Land's leaders planned to hold the world hostage by controlling the supply of oil, along with the threat of nuclear war, in an era known as the Zanzibar Land Disturbance.
"Operation Intrude F014"
Snake was able to penetrate the heavily fortified borders of Zanzibar Land via a nighttime HAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) jump, using a radar-stealth parachute. This was carried out at an altitude of 35,000 feet, on the Afghan border, from a C-130 Hercules aircraft. During the time of the HAHO jump, it also had a full moon during that time, ensuring achievement of CAVO (Cloud-Bottom Altitude, Visibility Over) and the high altitude environment of the jump also allowed for perfect visibility and also allowed for eyevision use, with calm winds as well as having a stable Minovsky density to allow radar use. In order to aid Snake’s insertion, a simultaneous diversion operation was conducted along the Chinese border.
Making a successful jump, and avoiding frostbite on the way down, Snake then advanced on foot from the drop point to the base of the south-facing cliff wall. Free-climbing his way to the top, being careful to evade enemy sensors, he eventually reached the infiltration point at the front of the enemy fortress. Throughout the mission, Snake also transmitted messages to FOXHOUND via microwave satellites used by both Eastern and Western forces, of which command would be available around 24 hours real time, and would communicate via special frequencies. If Snake was captured during the mission, however, he wouldn't receive any assistance negotiations nor any rescue activity as the mission was never covered under the conditions of the Warsaw Treaty.
Infiltrating the first of Zanzibar Land's large building complexes, Snake was contacted by Holly White, a CIA operative posing as a journalist, who promised to help in any way she could. Making his way up to the third floor of the main building, thinking Dr. Kio Marv was held there due to his transmitter. However, he was instead confronted by Black Ninja, who had disguised himself as Dr. Marv, explaining that Zanzibar Land had already deduced a while ago that FOXHOUND was using the transmitter, declaring it to be inferior. Snake easily defeated Black Ninja in battle. Black Ninja revealed to Snake that he was Kyle Schneider, the leader of the Resistance at Outer Heaven who helped Snake during his mission there four years earlier. He told Snake what happened after they had lost contact. Schneider told Snake that unbeknownst to him, NATO commenced a bombing raid on what was Outer Heaven after the success of Operation Intrude N313. This led to the deaths of many war orphans and refugees, along with many Resistance members and Outer Heaven personnel alike. He also told Snake that he survived but was captured by a clean up crew of NATO and used as a guinea pig for NASA's Black Ninja project. He also hinted that Big Boss not only survived, but was also the leader of Zanzibar Land and saved the surviving members of the Resistance. After the Black Ninja unit disbanded, he and many members fled to Zanzibar Land to assist in the Mercenary War. Schneider's last words to Snake was a clue on how to find Marv's whereabouts: "Follow the Green Beret."
Finding the man in the Green Beret, Snake patiently followed him into the jungle behind the main building before coming into a clearing, with a small building sitting in the middle. Sneaking past the Green Beret, Snake entered the building to find a large cell, completely empty. Snake could hear a strange knocking, and was contacted by Campbell who told Snake that the knocking was tap code. After figuring out a radio frequency from the knocks, Snake called the person on his radio. Snake discovered that the person who was knocking was not Dr. Marv, but Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, the Metal Gear developer from Outer Heaven. Madnar claimed he had been captured once again in order to build another Metal Gear tank: Metal Gear D. Snake, shocked by this latest development, was also told that the leader of Zanzibar Land was none other than Big Boss, the former leader of Outer Heaven, himself. Madnar then advised Snake to locate Marv, as his heart condition would make his dying from Zanzibar Land's interrogation a significant likelihood, and also supplied the frequency of one of his zoologist friends, Johan Jacobsen. He, however, also advised Snake to leave him behind, as the prison walls could not be blown apart by explosives.
Snake then attempted to cross the Nariko Desert, when he was contacted by an anonymous caller identifying himself only as "[Snake's] #1 Fan," warning him about mines being placed in the vicinity. Upon evading the mines and soldiers on the singing sand-laced desert, Snake encountered a Hind D, which took off and engaged Snake. As he had absolutely no way to fend off the Hind, Snake was forced to retreat, and acted on advice from Holly to locate Stinger missiles in a small armory located in the swamp. He then crossed the shallow areas of the swamp, based on a tip from one of the children nearby regarding big trucks driving through the otherwise bottomless swamp. He then encountered the mercenary Running Man, who proceeded to not only demonstrate his speed to Snake, but also activate the armory's nerve gas, stating he'll only turn them off if Snake defeats him in battle. Snake eventually did so by placing mines at Running Man's feet, using his own speed against him. However, he was unable to find any Stinger missiles. A kid inside the armory, however, informed him that the Stinger missiles were moved over to the Zanzibar Building to be equipped onto the Zanzibar Land tanks. Snake then traveled back to the hangar area and found the Stinger missiles, returning to the Hind D's heliport and proceeded to shoot it down with it.
"Reprieve of the Doctor"
Afterwards, Snake proceeded to the second building of the fortress. As soon as he stepped inside, he was called by Holly who had been captured by the enemy. She asked Snake for help, but he didn't know her exact location. Working from her clues, Snake eventually found and rescued her. She told Snake that she had a clue to Marv's whereabouts: a carrier pigeon on the roof. Snake immediately headed to the roof, defeating Red Blaster on the way. Using his rations, Snake coerced the pigeon towards him. Finding a piece of paper attached to the pigeon's leg, it had the message "HELP! WIS. OhIO" printed on it. Looking at it, Snake, with some help from Campbell as well as his FOXHOUND drill sergeant, Master Miller, realized it was Marv's radio frequency upside down. Calling Marv on 140.51, Snake successfully managed to make contact with Marv. Unfortunately for Snake, Marv didn't speak English. Contacting Madnar, Snake was told to look for an STB agent named Gustava Heffner, who was acting as their bodyguard. Snake was also told that Gustava had managed to steal an enemy uniform and that she should be somewhere in the main Zanzibar Land building.
Heading over there, and proceeding to the top floor, Snake waited for Gustava to enter the woman's bathroom, and snuck in, making contact with her. Snake immediately recognized her, realizing she was an ex-Olympic figure skater who won the gold medal at the Calgary Olympics. After making sure Marv was safe, and discovering that the prison was north of the tower building, they descended into the sewers. They eventually found an elevator which led them to Madnar's cell, and the three continued on to the bridge leading to the prison building. Along the way, Madnar asked for a quick bathroom break. Accepting his request, Snake and Gustava sat and awaited his return. As they waited, Gustava and Snake made some small talk. Gustava told Snake about her past, how she used to be engaged to a man named Frank Hunter, but when she attempted to defect to America she was refused asylum and sent away. Snake also admitted when asked if he was married that he never had a family. Since then, she joined the STB and had even killed a man. Snake attempted to comfort her, before Madnar returned. The trio carried on, eventually making their way out of the sewers.
"Under the Cloud of Darkness"
Upon reaching the suspension bridge leading to the detention camp, Madnar easily made his way across. As Gustava started to cross, a missile blew up the suspension bridge, launching Gustava back onto Snake's side of the crevice. As armed guards took Madnar away, Metal Gear D appeared piloted by none other than Gray Fox. He demanded that Snake leave Zanzibar Land, or he would kill him. Tending to Gustava (who was far beyond saving), she thanked Snake for all his help, and gave him her brooch, which could change into a key at different temperatures. Snake was now more determined than ever to defeat both Gray Fox and Big Boss.
After fighting his way through the Four Horsemen, Jungle Evil and Night Fright, Snake eventually made it into Dr. Marv's cell. Unfortunately, Snake arrived too late, as he found Dr. Marv's corpse. Marv was unable to survive the repeated torture sessions, and Madnar, also within the cell, was unable to save him. Just before Snake could retrieve the OILIX formula left by Dr. Marv, Holly revealed via a radio message that Dr. Madnar was not captured by Zanzibar Land's forces, but was in Zanzibar Land voluntarily overseeing the development of the new Metal Gear. After the truth came out, Madnar admitted that he accidentally killed Marv and caused Gustava's death, then proceeded to attack Snake. However, he was not successful in killing him, and was easily defeated. However, he still needed to access the locker, so Snake had to traverse back to the Zanzibar Building by stowing away on one of the Zanzibar Land transport trucks. He eventually went over to the freezer and used the key to open up the locker. However, one more obstacle remained within the locker: a nest of venomous Zanzibar Hamsters. Snake, under the advice of Johan Jacobsen, used one of his B3 ration units as bait for the hamster nest to come out before disposing of them, leaving him clear to enter their nesting hole and retrieve the OILIX formula.
With the OILIX formula now safely in Snake's hands, Snake made his way out of the cell, However, Dr. Madnar stopped him, and managed to tell him how to defeat Metal Gear D: the legs had weaker armor compared to the rest of the body, and were especially weak to grenades. Just then a trap door was activated with Snake landing in Zanzibar Land's lower basement area, where he was confronted by Gray Fox piloting Metal Gear D once again. After a fierce battle, Snake was successful in destroying Metal Gear. Unfortunately, the resulting explosion causes Snake's equipment to catch fire, and Gray Fox used the opportunity to recover the OILIX formula cartridge, telling Snake to "Burn in Hell!" Forced to remove all of his gear, he then went after Fox. Entering a door to his right, he then found himself in a minefield with Fox. Snake was contacted by military expert George Kasler who told Snake about Fox's real name, Frank Jaeger. Snake suddenly realized that the Frank Hunter whom Gustava had been engaged to was Gray Fox. The two suddenly engaged in hand-to-hand combat against each other, with Snake eventually emerging victorious. Fox told Snake about his past, about how Big Boss saved him several times, and how he needed war, and couldn't live without it. Fox "died", with Snake reassuring him that Gustava was waiting for him on the other side.
After defeating Fox, Snake retrieved Marv's cartridge, where he was then taunted by a familiar voice. Snake followed the voice to its source and was confronted by the renowned mercenary leader himself, Big Boss. Snake declared that he had come to Zanzibar Land to get rid of the nightmares that he had endured since Outer Heaven, with Big Boss replying that they would never go away. Big Boss explained that once someone has experienced the taste of battle, they could never leave it, and that everything he had done was to give Snake a place for it. He then told Snake about his viewpoint on a logical system: "Start a war, fan its flames, and create victims... then save them, train them... and feed them back onto the battlefield." Big Boss continued on, stating that soldiers like them could never lead normal lives, that it was impossible. They only felt truly alive during battle and nothing else would ever satisfy their cravings. Solid Snake then decided to kill Big Boss to free himself from his grip as well as to put aside his nightmares. Big Boss had one final speech imparted from the words of his mentor he gave before their battle.
- "It doesn't matter who wins here. Our fight will continue. The loser will be liberated from the battlefield, and the survivor will live out the rest of his days as a soldier."
- ―Big Boss to Solid Snake
Having lost all of his equipment and with no weapons at his disposal, Snake was forced to improvise and made a makeshift flamethrower consisting of a cigarette lighter and lacquer spray. Taking Big Boss by surprise, Snake was able to defeat him, for the second and last time. Snake and Holly then proceeded to leave, but they first had to fight their way out to the extraction point. However, their getaway pilot Charlie, was running late, so they were forced to hold off an entire platoon of guards until they eventually ran out of ammo. They were cornered by several guards and it appeared that Snake and Holly were done for. However, at the last second, Charlie, piloting a Sikorsky HH-64 Dragoon, eliminated all the guards using the gunship's 7.62 mm machineguns. Snake and Holly then escaped together with Charlie, and delivered the OILIX formula to Campbell. After refusing Campbell's offer to return to FOXHOUND, citing that his nightmares are over, he also confirmed to Holly and Campbell that the MSX cartridge that he retrieved was indeed the one Marv hid the OILIX formula inside, citing that Marv signed his signature backwards on the bootup screen as the proof needed.
After the situation had been defused, Snake disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness, not to be heard from again for several years....
Behind the scenes
The incident is referred to as the "Zanzibar Riot" in the Metal Gear Solid instruction manual, and the "Zanzibar Land Insurrection" in a Metal Gear Solid 4 promotional art book, given out at GameStop with pre-orders for the game.
In Metal Gear 2, there are several references to the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc and various related organizations being involved in the events surrounding the Zanzibar Land Disturbance. This is because the game was released in 1990, prior to the dissolution of the USSR and the decline of the Eastern Bloc. The Previous Operations section of Metal Gear Solid updates some of these details to fall more in line with what happened in real life. This includes references to the former Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russia's interventions in the Mercenary War, instead of both Eastern and Western powers, and Gustava being an ex-STB agent rather than an active one. However, the re-released versions of Metal Gear 2 still references the existence of the USSR and Eastern Bloc due to the script not being updated.
In Metal Gear Solid, it is revealed that Big Boss was the father of Solid Snake, having claimed as much to Snake sometime prior to his defeat in Zanzibar Land. It has often been assumed that Big Boss made the claim during the Zanzibar Land Disturbance, due to Colonel Campbell's remark to Naomi Hunter that only he and Snake knew "the real truth of what happened there." However, the actual dialogue of their conversation only confirms that Snake knowingly defeated his father at that time.
In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it is revealed that the Big Boss defeated by Snake in the original Metal Gear was actually the former's body double, Venom Snake. Therefore, the Zanzibar Land Disturbance marks the first and only time that the real Big Boss and Solid Snake actually fought each other.
|Timeline of events in Metal Gear|
|1962 - Sokolov Defection - Cuban Missile Crisis|
|1964 - Virtuous Mission - Operation Snake Eater|
|1972 - Les Enfants Terribles Project|
|1974 - Peace Walker Incident|
|1975 - Ground Zeroes Incident|
|1976 - Attack on Zero|
|1977 - Zero visits Snake|
|1984 - Hospital Escape - Phantom Pain Incident|
|1995 - Outer Heaven Uprising|
|1997 - Mercenary War|
|1999 - Zanzibar Land Disturbance|
|2003 - Assassination of Dr. Clark|
|2005 - Shadow Moses Incident|
|2007 - Tanker Incident|
|2008 - Liquidation of Dead Cell|
|2009 - Big Shell Incident|
|2014 - Guns of the Patriots Incident|
|Liquid Sun - Solid Sun - Third Sun - Twin Suns - Old Sun - Naked Sin|
- ^ a b c d Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake - User's Manual. Translated version courtesy of G&T Soft.
- ^ Metal Gear Solid, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (1998).
Solid Snake: Any family? // Naomi Hunter: That's not a very happy topic for me. // Snake: I don't have any family. No wait, there was a man who said he was my father... // Naomi: Where is he? // Snake: Dead. By my own hand. // Roy Campbell: Big Boss. // Naomi: What!? Big Boss!? I had no idea. // Campbell: There was no way you could. It happened in Zanzibar [Land] 6 years ago. Only Snake and I know the real truth of what happened there. // Naomi: So, is it true? Was Big Boss really your father? // Snake: That's what he said. That's all I know. // Naomi: And you were able to kill him, knowing that? // Snake: Yup.
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (first appearance)
- Metal Gear Solid/Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (mentioned)
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (mentioned and flashbacks)
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (mentioned)