Back in the days, long long long before Hideo Kojima achieved world fame with the later installments of his metal gear solid series, he created games that were simply deeper, better written, more innovative and most of all more fun than his competitors products. one of those games is „snatcher“, maybe the only thing that did not make me regret to buy a sega cd add on. at the time that i purchased it, unbeknownst to me this gem had already been released on the pc-88, msx-2 and pc engine super cd-rom 2, all consoles that i would not be able to own or for a fact even know about, since i was not raised in japan. 😉
anyways, one day i took the usual 2 hour train/bus ride to my next gaming store with my pockets full of allowance, planning on getting me the finest new imported game for my console, that i can get my hand on. let’s be honest, there were not really many Sega CD games to chose from to begin with, even worse if you already knew that at least 40% of them didn’t even reach more than 3/10 points in reviews, so i was delighted to find this one as an US or import just arrived and even better: IT INCLUDED A LIGHTGUN! even though i always lost interest way too early, i always loved light gun games or let’s say odd / unusual gaming accessories. to make matters even more interesting, i realised that it was also produced by Konami, one of my all time favorite studios. no further hesitating: take my cash please, mister small gaming store at the most hidden and un-interesting part of town owner and hurry the fuck up, will you?
what makes this game so special, you ask? well, there are multiple aspects. first of all the story is great, even though it is manufactured so close to blade runner up to a point where one would suspect that people would get sued, but who doesn’t love a good sci fi dystopia, right. second of all the audiovisual part. the music is top notch and the gfx, even though static for the most part, has a nice graphic novel look to it and is designed with much love for detail. third and most important, the gameplay. Snatcher is a unique genre mix of a „multiple-choice-adventure“, which alone you see rather rarely, and some light gun action elements. in fact you are playing with the game pad most of the game, but just out of the blue some light gun action is demanded, which always takes you by surprise and in the way it is used in the game, gives you a good rush of adrenaline. what i like the most about that part is, that since the protagonist is a policeman it adds a good element of realism to the game. let me expand: the (light) gun always lies next to you and it COULD be required at any given moment, just in the way that a policemen always has to ready to drag out his gun when required. Hideo uses this element extremely well, since you always have to use the light gun at a moment, when you just the least expect it.
some details on the different versions:
due to technical restrictions the pc-8801 and msx2 version (which came on floppy disks) were text-based and had to be cut significantly. they are mostly identical, apart from the fact that the msx2 version came with an included sound add on, so that the msx2 would be able to produce the same sounds as the pc-8801 version
Konami also produced a spinoff called SD Snatcher for the MSX only, which i yet have to get my hands on. it is a roleplay version of the Snatcher story with a different ending.
the next version was the pc engine CD2 version, which for the first time included the third act of the story and was generally improved on a technical level.
after that my beloved Sega CD version was release and localized for the european and american market. some stuff got censored, some stuff got changed to avoid copyright issues and the third act got rewritten to make it more challenging, including the introduction of three new characters.
following that, the Sega Saturn and Playstation versions got released, which did not bring much new to the table. some violence got toned done massively, the graphics got improved slightly and we got a new sound mix.