If you’ve been following news on Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, you’ve probably heard the news that Konami has removed Metal Gear godfather Hideo Kojima’s name and production company branding from the official Metal Gear website. In addition, Kojima Productions Los Angeles has officially been re-named Konami Los Angeles Studio.
All signs seem to point to Hideo Kojima parting ways with Konami, despite various statements and reports claiming otherwise. But what does that actually mean for the Metal Gear franchise? Does the success of Metal Gear Solid 5 and any potential future Metal Gear titles hinge on Kojima’s participation? Let’s look at the powerhouse franchise that is the Metal Gear series.
A gaming dynasty
Metal Gear Solid has become far more than just a game franchise. It’s a dynasty and it has been for a long time. Redefining what it meant to play a “shooter”, with an intense focus on absurdly detailed stories, characters and an emphasis on using stealth and restraint to progress as opposed to murdering everything in sight, the Metal Gear franchise raised a bar for the gaming industry.
Fans who played the Metal Gear games were no longer satisfied with the simplistic “run ‘n’ gun” nature of most shooters.
At the helm of this dynasty was Hideo Kojima. While Kojima is also know for such successes as Policenauts, Zone of the Enders, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, he is most fondly associated with Metal Gear.
Hideo Kojima himself has always been a perfectionist, striving to outdo himself with each game that he creates. Multiple times he has said he was done making Metal Gear games and each time, he has come back to give the franchise one more great entry before swearing it off.
With rumors of his departure coinciding with the much-anticipated release of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, it’s necessary to take a look at what a Metal Gear game without Kojima at the helm looks like.
Back in 1987, Hideo Kojima created Metal Gear for the MSX2 computer in Japan. The game was well received and was ported to the Famicom and NES consoles, after undergoing heavy editing. While people who have played the edited port can judge the game for themselves, it was decidedly not Metal Gear as fans have come to know and appreciate that.
The game helped popularize the stealth game genre but was riddled with flaws that otherwise distract from what could have been a super hit.
While this is a dated example, it does point to the fact that Metal Gear has thrived under Kojima’s watchful eye. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was one of the launch titles for the PS3 and helped showcase what the system could do, while wrapping up a large number of loose ends left over from the previous chronological game in the series, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
More than just a video game
Metal Gear has long since transcended being a simple video game, spawning toys, books, CDs and fan films, with an official Metal Gear film still being planned for future release. Simply put, the franchise is a huge part of Hideo Kojima’s legacy.
While the series could theoretically continue without his involvement, there’s no doubt that it wouldn’t feel the same. It’s difficult to put into words but there is something quintessentially different about Kojima’s games. Something that’s distinctly “his”.
A good example is the Crash Bandicoot series. While the franchise spanned well past its relationship with developers Naughty Dog, the series was never quite the same after new developers took over and later titles failed to achieve the same lasting impact.
The same can be said about the Metal Gear franchise. While it’s unknown how much of a difference, if any at all, Kojima’s rumored departure from Konami would make on Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, it’s hard to speculate on what future Metal Gear games might look like without its longtime creator at the helm.
At the end of the day, the issue is truly between Kojima and Konami. Should Metal Gear Solid 5 truly be the last game in the franchise, perhaps that is for the best.
Regardless of the future of the series, Metal Gear as it stands today is one of the most prolific franchises in gaming and if that is what Kojima and Konami have to show for their years of work together, all parties involved should be proud.