Review by Sanjuro2

Reviewed: 06/27/04

A Pinch of Blade Runner, a Speck of The Terminator, and Almost No Gameplay to Speak Of... But What a Ride!

Hideo Kojima used to make good games. Indeed there was a time, before Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty came along and mercilessly assaulted decent human beings with it's pathetic and convoluted drivel, that Kojima was a success. The first Metal Gear Solid was a pretty good game, but Kojima's talents really came through best, in my opinion, in the form of two little games called Snatcher and Policenauts. Policenauts is the more polished, effective, and better of the two, but Snatcher is nothing to scoff at.

In Snatcher, you step into the shoes of Gillian Seed, a J.U.N.K.E.R. (Japanese Undercover Neuro Kinetic Elimination Ranger) in the city of Neo Kobe, Japan in 2047. Seed's job requires that he track down and kill Snatchers, which are basically the same as the Replicants in Blade Runner, only these take the place of their victims after they kill them. He became a J.U.N.K.E.R. because he found himself at a place in his life where he was lost in his marriage and seeking answers three years after being discovered in an amnesiac state along with his wife Jamie. His mind was always drawn back to the Snatchers, so logically he began thinking that becoming a J.U.N.K.E.R. was the way to find out who he really was. Maybe discovering where the Snatchers come from, and what exactly they are, will provide him with answers to his own origins. The only way to find out is to play the game.

Play? Is that what one does in Snatcher? Don't get me wrong, it is a game in so far as you determine the outcome; you win or lose based on your actions. But Snatcher is more like a complex version of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Actually, it's even closer to what Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks) is trying to create in the movie Big; a comic book that the reader plays. Snatcher is exactly that. Aside from a few shooting sequences which take place on a 3x3 grid, Snatcher is the epitome of low interactivity.

In a location during Snatcher, you have text options at the bottom of the screen. If you select "LOOK" a menu of things you can look at will pop up. If you select "INVESTIGATE" ditto. And again, ditto for things like "TALK" or "MOVE" or "SHOW" or "ASK". It's really that simple. Also, despite the game being of only moderate difficulty, it's confusing sometimes to figure out that you literally might as well go through every possible option. During the game, your robotic assistant Metal Gear will store things in his memory. You trigger this by looking or investigating something. But you never know which command will actually result in the story being advanced. Despite all of the "choices" given to the player, it is somewhat defeated by the feeling that every choice must eventually be selected, regardless.

Nonetheless, the experience of Snatcher is one you'll be glad you had. The graphics are surprisingly good for Sega CD, the music is very nice (though the "suspense" music can get repetitive as it appears every time you follow up on a suspicious lead, most of which turn out to be nothing), and the voice acting is world's beyond most stuff that was on consoles at that time. Perhaps only the Sega CD version of Lunar came close in the voice acting department. So, the bottom line? I say this game is a must play, regardless of what may look like a non-must rating. The story is a winner, despite one too many cliches and coincidences, and the game has aged well in terms of its overall production value. It may not engage the twitch gamers out there who need everything fast paced and exploding around them, but most other gamers will surely be intrigued and ultimately satisfied.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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