You’re in the jungle. There seems to be Soviet shenanigans afoot and the easiest way to make it across enemy terrain is to blend in with your surroundings. Fortunately, there’s a wide array of camouflage in that nifty CIA-issued fanny pack you’re wearing. But none of it is solid brown, so you can’t perfectly blend in with the floor of the run-down shack where you plan to hide.
The solution here is easy: Sort through the photos you have on your 3DS — because they totally had those in the 1960s — and look for something brown. It’s a good thing you took a pic of your desk back home — now you can blend in perfectly. Until you reach the shoddy lean-to, you should wear that leafy camo you’ve got. Enemy soldiers are afoot, so you throw yourself onto your belly and crawl toward the shack. It’s a bit slow, isn’t it?
That means it’s time to crouch a bit and sneak to your destination. It’s kind of a big deal: This wasn’t even possible eight years ago. Upon entering the shack, you notice there’s a miniature Yoshi sporting a goofy grin under a desk. Might as well shoot it, right?
Surprisingly, the stuffed dinosaur doesn’t start reciting its own name in a squeaky voice as it has since Yoshi’s Story. Instead the garbled 16-bit sound bite from Super Mario World plays over and over as the doll pivots on one foot, alerting enemy soldiers to your presence. As nostalgia pours out of Yoshi’s every orifice, you hear something equally familiar, a noise you’ve come to equate with an exclamation point.
As far as Metal Gear Solid games go, Snake Eater 3D sticks to all the tried-and-true tenets you’ve come to expect from the series over the last decade-plus. It is, after all, a port of the 2004 PlayStation 2 game. Everything you remember from the first time you ventured into the jungle with Naked Snake and The Boss will come flooding back once you start its newest iteration.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the original, we’ll get down to brass tacks for a moment. It’s the height of the Cold War, and one of the United States’ most valuable agents has defected to the Soviet Union. It’s then that the CIA appoints Naked Snake, the man she’s mentored, to assassinate her.
The story contained within Snake Eater, although just as full of baffling events and monologues as other entries in the Metal Gear Solid series, is easily stronger on its own than its predecessors and those to come after. Perhaps it’s because of this that Konami chose to port this particular chapter of the Metal Gear saga to the 3DS.
Snake Eater is a strong standalone story made better if you’ve played any other game in the series. It’s sort of like seeing photos of your parents from when they were in their mid-20s and 30s. Your dad smoked the same brand of cigarettes you blow every spare dollar on and your uncle was just learning his way around a set of revolvers. But he’s not really your dad — you’re a clone — and that’s not your uncle, but he’s grafted your clone brother’s arm onto his because … well, maybe we’ll leave the Metal Gear Solid story lessons to the wikis.
For now, suffice it to say that playing Snake Eater 3D with a cursory knowledge of the franchise will give you goosebumps whenever the words snake, ocelot and boss are uttered.
The game’s title itself is just as much a description of what you’ll spend much of your time doing as it is a play on your mission’s codename. Unlike other games in the series, this version of Snake has to hunt for sustenance. You can’t rely on prepackaged military rations this time around — those are scarcely present.
In addition to a health meter, Naked Snake has a stamina gauge that affects how quickly he heals and how steadily he can hold a gun. In order to replenish the stamina gauge, the man’s gotta eat. And what better quarry than every living creature (save for humans) that litters the jungle?
It’s a good thing Snake can hold more food than you’ll ever need at a given moment because if you’re anything like me, stealth missions tend to turn into frantic firefights, particularly when there’s a deadline to be met.
Snake will also sustain various injuries while in the field and it’s up to you to patch the man up. A series of tools are available for you to do so, from bandages and disinfectant to suture tools and cigars for burning off leaches. Whenever you see the soldier isn’t healing as much as he should be — he recovers health over time if his stamina gauge has any juice in it — pop into the medic menu on the 3DS touch screen or access it by pressing Start or Select.
It’s in this menu that you can treat wounds to various degrees. Most injuries require more than one piece of equipment to heal. You’ll often need to disinfect a scrape in addition to sewing it up and bandaging it, but if you don’t have all the necessary tools to repair yourself 100-percent, at least you can do so partially.
That all of this takes place within menus may be seen as bothersome, but I can’t imagine having to perform these tasks in real-time during some of the game’s more intense action sequences.