The mad genius of Hideo Kojima and why Death Stranding might be the weirdest triple-A game ever made

By Kirk McKeand, Friday, 21 December 2018 14:59 GMT

Death Stranding is a thing. That much we know for sure.

We’ve seen multiple trailers for the game, but details of what it is are still thin on the ground. You are a blue collar worker played by The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. He delivers stuff – sometimes cargo, sometimes dead people – to places while trekking across an Icelandic-looking environment. Sometimes his toenails snap off.

Oh, there are also babies in jars, beached whales, and weird oil monsters. It’s probably something to do with climate change and alternate dimensions. Mads Mikkelsen is a bad guy in it and he controls an army of skeleton soldiers who are attached to him by umbilical cords. The jar babies live inside you sometimes and are sentient enough to give you a thumbs up. Tanks have tentacles. It also has something to do with sticks and ropes.

When game director Hideo Kojima worked at Konami, his weirdness often slipped through. But there’s no doubt that budget restraints and a layer of management above him kept some of his more bizarre ideas in check. With Death Stranding, Sony says it trusts the creator to do as he pleases, and I’m convinced this is going to result in something that’s quite unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Death Stranding is Hideo Kojima unleashed – his eccentricities unbounded, his creativity unhampered by his publisher. This could be a good thing; could be a bad thing. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be interesting.

To give you an idea of some of the batshit stuff Death Stranding might contain, here’s a non-extensive list of Hideo Kojima’s most outlandish ideas:

He originally wanted The End boss battle in Metal Gear Solid 3 to last weeks

You tried so hard and got so far. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. One of the most memorable boss fights from Metal Gear Solid 3 is with The End, a 100-year-old sniper who takes ages to take down.

When planning out the encounter, Kojima originally wanted the fight to last weeks. Literally weeks. He wanted you to have a cat and mouse with The End across multiple play sessions that would last longer than any ordinary game. Yes.

You can actually defeat the boss in the finished game by taking too long to reach him, in which case he dies of old age.

His weird zombie game idea

A decade ago in an interview with Edge magazine, Kojima briefly spoke about an idea he had for a zombie game. It wasn’t Metal Gear Survive.

“The zombie idea I have is a bit different,” he said at the time. “Imagine a large town where half the inhabitants are zombies. Users would subscribe, get inside the town and get bitten.

“At that stage they become undead and can’t control their character – all they can do is modify the camera angles… They’d see their character attacking humans and have to pay just to watch!”

The idea was that you would play normally, up until the point where you’re infected and you lose control of your avatar forever. You would have to subscribe again to play as a new character so you could track down your original character to put an end to their suffering.

He also once spoke to PSM2 magazine about creating a game that deleted itself when you die.

The heat activated disc and hidden message in Snatcher

When Kojima was making Snatcher, he wanted to hide a message on the floppy disc that you could only read when activated by the heat generated from playing the game. He also wanted it to smell of blood.

“Back when I was making Snatcher, which is a PC game – at the time we used floppy disks,” he said, via Engadget. “One thing that I wanted to do that I wasn’t able to do was that I wanted to have a secret message on the disk – actually have something written or printed on the disk.

“So maybe when you put it in your disk drive and you’re playing for about fifteen minutes, the heat from the disk drive interacts with that chemical and creates a certain smell. It smells like blood or something like that. And when you pull it out you see like a dying message on the disk. That was actually an idea I had for the original Snatcher but unfortunately, I got yelled at for it and they didn’t let me do it.”

Psycho Mantis pad switching

Another bizarre boss battle. Some of you might be too young to remember Metal Gear Solid for the first PlayStation. This was a game back in the day when we had to physically plug our controllers into the machine for them to work. We also had memory cards that were plugged in above the controller slot to save our game data.

This psychic boss starts things off by reading your memory card and mentioning other Konami games you’ve played. When you get into the fight, he can anticipate your every move. The only way to win is to swap the controller into port two, away from his prying mind’s eye.

Meryl frequency

If you had a pirated copy of Metal Gear Solid, you were shit out of luck. One section of the game required you to tune into a specific radio frequency to contact Meryl. The frequency itself was on the back of the game case, which the game explained to you in a bit of fourth wall-breaking madness.

Nuclear Disarmament cutscene

In Metal Gear Solid 5, Kojima tucked a cutscene away in the game that was only found weeks after it released because of people picking through the files. The cutscene was only meant to trigger naturally when every player – in the entire world – decided not to stockpile nukes in the multiplayer portion. Obviously, this would never happen because humans are awful, but that’s probably the entire point.

Raiden

If you were around for the launch of Metal Gear Solid 2 – in the days before the internet when outlets like us spoiled everything – you would have 100% expected to play as Snake for the entire game. All the promo art and trailers showed Snake as the lead character, but in reality you only played as him for a tiny prologue. The rest of the game was spent playing as Raiden, a floppy-haired replacement who was universally hated by fans.

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