Why 'Metal Gear's Best Installment Is A Forgotten Gameboy Game
The original Metal Gear Solid came out back in 1998 to resounding critical acclaim. The jump to 3D allowed the sequel to the old SNES Metal Gear games to create the most immersive stealth simulation of its time and a new style of cinematic presentation that still influences every big game coming out today. With all that, you'd probably be surprised to learn that the best-reviewed game in all of Metal Gear-dom is a small Game Boy title made just to cash in on the success of the original MGS.
Though officially just a cash grab, Ghost Babel wisely avoided trying to simply retread the PS1 game in 2D format and instead continued the story of the old games in the classic 2D format while acting as if Metal Gear Solid (PS1) was an unofficial sequel made by interdimensional aliens from the future. Ghost Babel tells a non-canonical tale of Solid Snake that one could perhaps call more simplistic, but that every single reviewer showered with the highest possible praise.
That simpler story might have to do with the limitations of the Game Boy, sure, but it's also related to how the series' mastermind Hideo Kojima had nothing to do with the game. In the director's chair sat Tomokazu Fukushima, a much lesser-known dev who worked as Kojima's co-writer in Metal Gear Solid 1 through 3 – the best games in the series. Fukushima left before Konami began work on MGS4, the game when the series took the biggest hit in writing quality, which led fans to theorize that Fukushima had been the true genius behind the (good) writing in the series.
Maybe it's all just a coincidence; maybe we should think like the series taught us to and understand that conspiracies are usually real, maybe evaluating art through numbers is dumb, or maybe game reviewers were just mad back in the day. In any case, and despite missing the distinct 3D flair of MGS, Ghost Babel absolutely rocks.
Top Image: Konami