Snake’s Revenge is a sequel to Metal Gear that was developed specifically for the North American and European NES markets by Konami and Ultra Games. It first came out in North America in 1990, and in Europe in 1992. Why there was a two-year gap between those releases is anyone’s guess.
Hideo Koijima wasn’t involved in the making of Snake’s Revenge and it is considered ‘non-canonical’, but he did make Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake for the MSX in response to it. I’m guessing that he wasn’t particularly enamoured with the idea of another team working on his signature series, but ultimately he (rather diplomatically) says that Snake’s Revenge is “not a bad game“.
The Solid Snake sprite looks a bit “beefy” in this game, like they tried to make him into an Arnold Schwarzenegger-like character (Predator came out in 1987 and Snake does look at bit like Dutch).
Again: the idea is to infiltrate the enemy base while avoiding detection, locate the Metal Gear weapon and destroy it, and – frankly – Snake’s Revenge is considerably more difficult than Metal Gear on the NES.
The game starts off interestingly enough, with Snake being chased through the jungle by enemy troops firing flares to illuminate the screen. Some areas are pitch black and have searchlights moving around which you must avoid if you don’t want to trigger an alert. You at have to be on your toes from the very beginning of the game.
Unlike in the first game Snake cannot stand underneath security cameras to avoid detection, which is a bummer. You have to hide behind something or stay out of a camera’s direct line of sight to avoid being seen this time.
Snake starts out with a knife and a handgun, and can also use his fists (although it’s better to equip the knife rather than use fists because it kills enemies quicker). It’s not wise to use the handgun until Snake gets the silencer because the noise will trigger an alert. Like the first game the idea is to collect key cards to unlock doors to rooms that contains POWs and useful equipment. Also like the first game it’s a pain in the butt to have to keep going to your inventory to switch key cards to access certain doors (why the designers didn’t just have the doors open if you held the correct card is beyond me). Inventory access is even more clunky in this game, making door access unnecessarily frustrating.
Once again the transceiver is used to converse over the radio with various people. It has direct contacts this time, rather than tuning into frequencies, but it’s still a pain to use and could easily have been simplified to make it more usable from a gameplay perspective. There are elevators again too, but these sometimes stop halfway down a shaft so you have to press down again to get them moving again. Snake’s Revenge is a sloppy piece of programming to be honest…
Occasionally there are boss fights, which are another thing to add to the “annoying” list for this game. The first boss fight is far too hard for the game’s good. There are also occasional side-facing levels too, and Snake is able to duck and crawl in these, which leads to some hilarious situations where you can duck down right in front of an enemy and not be seen by them. There are also underwater sections that require the use of a breathing tank so that Snake doesn’t run out of oxygen.
I didn’t enjoy playing Snake’s Revenge if I’m being honest. It’s more difficult, more clunky, and more annoying than it really should be. It’s a step backwards from the first game, which I did enjoy playing. The English translation is pretty bad too. Thankfully Koijima‘s canonical sequel, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, rights these wrongs and puts the Metal Gear series back on the right track.