Snatcher is a cyberpunk graphic adventure game created by Hideo Koijima (and his team) and released by Konami for the Sega CD in 1988. It is held in high regard by those who’ve played it.
Graphically, Snatcher is beautifully presented, with lots of high tech readouts and animated displays shown at every opportunity. Characters have their own portrait pop up when they’re talking, and every scene has its own set of animated sequences telling the story. Interaction is via a multiple choice menu, with more options opening up as you investigate further.
The story is basically a Blade Runner-esque “hunt the robots” type scenario, with you playing a guy called Gillian Seed (the Japanese were always terrible at English names…). Gillian is a JUNKER – a member of a team whose sole job it is to track and kill humanoid robots called “Snatchers”. Snatchers have been discovered to be killing people and wearing their skin as a disguise, replacing them in society. And you have to stop them. Thankfully you have plenty of help, including a robot assistant called ‘Metal Gear’ (haw haw), who can act as a telephone, can analyse blood and tissue samples for you, but unfortunately can’t blast things (boooo). At least not to begin with…
The first real case you take on is a gory one. You find a fellow JUNKER agent, except he’s dead because his head’s been twisted off… And from that grisly discovery you soon begin your first combat sequence…
Combat in Snatcher is fairly weak to be honest. It’s basically a reaction/shooting game where you target incoming robots on a three by three grid. It’s not easy, but it’s not very interesting either. The game does at least give you the opportunity to practise on a shooting range before putting your life at risk.
You could describe Snatcher as an ‘interactive, animated comic’, but ultimately – if you really want to pigeonhole it – it’s an adventure game. A very good adventure game at that – one with top quality presentation and challenging gameplay. It’s probably best played with a walkthrough to hand, because it’s a game you can easily get stuck in.
Interestingly, Snatcher was re-made for the MSX2 as SD Snatcher in 1990, which may seem a little weird as you’d maybe expect it to be the other way around… Both games are excellent, although personally SD Snatcher is my favourite because I prefer the combat in that game. Snatcher on the Sega CD does have a much more complex story and better audio/visuals though.
If you like cyberpunk action adventure games and haven’t seen Snatcher, you should hunt it down and play it as soon as possible. It’s fairly classic stuff.
More: Snatcher on Wikipedia