Format reviewed: Sega CD/Mega CD
Developer: Hideo Kojima
Submitted by: Darran Jones
Hideo Kojima’s Snatcher, hailed by many as one of the greatest graphic adventures ever, is nearly two decades old (the original PC-88 and MSX versions came out in 1988). Unquestionably retro yet still intensely enjoyable, it’s a timeless classic. This is because the actual gameplay (selecting menu options and occasional lightgun sections) is ancillary to what is a thrilling (Bladerunner inspired) sci-fi plot.
Retro Gamer has long debated running either a Classic Game or Why You Must Play feature, but, because most satisfaction is derived from the storyline, it would be nearly impossible to explain specifically why it’s so excellent without spoiling things. The very first playthrough of Snatcher is the most special and, were selective memory erasure possible, it would be repeatedly forgotten and played over again. At least by us. So we’ve no intention of ruining things for the uninitiated.
Snatcher was released across several formats in Japan; only the Mega CD version was localised into English (by Jeremy Blaustein) and released in both America and the UK. The story (explained via a chilling spoken intro, and featuring some deeply ominous music) begins in 2046, 50 years after a global biohazard which originated in Russia (the “Catastrophe”) wipes out half the world’s population. But there’s a new threat to contend with – Snatchers! These are skeletal cyborgs with artificial skin (think Terminator) who are snatching and replacing important people.
You take control of amnesiac Gillian Seed who, along with his wife, was found cryogenically frozen in a Siberian laboratory. To bring back his memory Gillian moves to Neo Kobe in Japan (having undergone military training) and fights the Snatchers, since it’s the only name he recognises. So he becomes a JUNKER (Japanese Undercover Neuro Kinetic Elimination Ranger, or Judgement Uninfected Naked Kind & Execute Ranger, depending on which translation you prefer). The unfolding investigation is gripping, and hopefully this screenshot will encourage you to play it.