SNATCHER (Konami, Sega CD, 1994) Review

Man oh man, this game right here. I had heard of it here and there for years, and just recently finally sat down and played through it. And I am thoroughly convinced it is one of the best fuckin’ games ever made. And I play ALOT of games. This shit is just too awesome.

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Ok, here’s the deal. It’s one of those adventure games where you spend most of your time staring at a static image of some area and you have a list of options like “look,” “talk,” “search,” etc. Ya know, kinda like “Shadowgate” on the NES. But unlike Shadowgate and its kin, this game does not use a cursor, which is a merciful thing when you have to use a controller instead of a mouse. Instead, all navigation is done with a list of available commands underneath each scene you’re shown. It’s done in a very polished and smooth way, so unlike other similar adventure games like this, it never feels tedious to get around. Every now and then, there are action sequences that involve you having to shoot at shit, and this can be done either with the controller moving a crosshair around, or you can use the Sega’s lightgun. Your choice. That’s about it for the game mechanics.

Now, from that description, you probably find it hard to believe I could say it’s one of the best games EVER. But it totally is. And this is because the story, artwork, music, and voice acting are all top-notch as FUCK. Basically, it’s a “Blade Runner” type futuristic cyber-punk theme. Taking place in the year 2046, you play as Gillian Seed, a “Junker” whose job is to find and destroy these gnarly terminator lookin’ robots called “Snatchers” who murder the citizens of Neo-Kobe (the town in Japan where the game takes place) and subsequently steal their identities by using fake skin to make themselves identical to the man/woman they killed. In this way, they infiltrate into human society. Why are they doing this and where did they come from? You gotta play the game to find out. I ain’t gonna spoil shit. The whole thing is an intricate, well written detective story, and a damn good one. It took me over 10 hours to solve the mystery and beat this bad muthafucka, and I was never bored during the entire trip.

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The graphics are all done in an anime style, and the game incorporates brilliant cutscenes and dialogue. No “Engrish” here. Every little detail was paid loving care and attention to, and it really shows. Konami also put in tons of little easter eggs and nods to its major franchises such as Castlevania and Metal Gear. In fact, you are assisted throughout the game by a small, horny robot (who is also hilarious as a constant source of comic relief) named “Metal Gear,” and he’s modelled on his name-sake menace from the game of the same name. And yes, I did say horny robot. This is NOT a game for kids. It’s not overly raunchy, but it’s chock full of dirty innuendos and sex-based comedy. Other little gamer treats include characters in a seedy bar dressed like famous Konami characters and the ability to find an in-game videophone number for Konami. Using Metal Gear’s videophone function to call the number gets you a nice, touching message from one of the main developers of the game expressing her feelings on how much a labor of love this game was to her. I’m not gonna tell you where to find the number though.

And the sound department really outdid themselves here. Every piece of music in the whole game is wonderful, and fits the mood perfectly. Plus, since this was on Sega CD, all the tunes are in high, CD level quality. You’ll never get tired of hearing em. And as mentioned earlier, the voice acting is also wonderful. It’s even better than many anime movie dubs done at the time.

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I had a real blast with this game. It was funny, it was sad, it was scary, and most importantly, it was highly satisfying at the end. It was a total emotional mindfuck in places, and the finale that it builds up to is every bit as bombastic and breathtaking as you could possibly want it to be. This was more than a game for me. It was an experience. And given how easy it is today to play this game on your PC or Wii, or whatever it is you want to emulate the Sega CD on, or on the real deal if you own a Sega CD, it’s an experience that I highly recommend for any fan of noire, dystopian futures, great games, or just great stories. Check it out. You’ll love this shit.

Author: Kasey Koon

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