The NES Metal Gear is a rushed conversion of the MSX2 original with many bugs and glitches, drastically altered level designs (including the addition of two Lost Woods-style mazes with solutions that are never given in-game), and no Metal Gear (you know, the nuclear-equipped walking tank thing that the whole game was named after). Kojima was not very fond of it, to say the least.
Since MSX2 computers were never sold in North America, this is the version that was brought over to the States instead, where it was given an English translation that was just as rushed as the game itself (not that the English localization of the MSX2 version was that much better).
The MSX2 version has two types of alert phases. The normal alert phases, in which a single exclamation mark appears above an enemy soldier's head, and the more dangerous kind, in which two exclamation marks appear. In these higher alert phases (which are also triggered if you walk into an infrared sensor, get spotted by a security camera or fire a weapon without a suppressor), enemy reinforcement will chase you from one screen to the next until you kill a certain number of guards or leave to another floor or area.
These higher alert phases are absent in the NES version (the game only has the regular alert phases, even when you have the transmitter in your inventory), but it's pretty clear that they were meant to be implemented. The game's NES sequel, Snake's Revenge, would manage to feature them.
The handgun icon for the weapon selection screen is displayed incorrectly in the Famicom version due to the wrong tiles being applied to the bottom portion. The tile intended for the middle-bottom portion was applied to the bottom-right, and the tile that comes before it in the game's data was used in its place. The corrected portions can be seen on the unused version above. The NES version ended up using a slightly different icon which has the gun aligned a bit more to the left.
The opposite is true for the flashlight icon, which was originally displayed correctly on the Famicom version but is slightly off on the NES version. The mistake is not as severe as it was with the handgun icon, though, as only the bottom-right corner is messed up.
There's a few bits of leftover text from the MSX2 version that were not only kept in the game's data, but were fully translated for the English localization.
|Transcript||BIG BOSS HERE.
CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT!
|コチラ BIG BOSS…|
ソウビ ヲ テンケン シテミロ!
In the MSX2 version, Big Boss contacts you to give this advice instead of his usual message if you reach the entrance of Building No. 2 with the transmitter still in your equipment (which keeps you in constant alert mode, making it impossible to trick the soldiers with the enemy uniform). While it's possible to achieve this as well on the NES version, it doesn't trigger this message, since you can just wear the enemy uniform and it opens the door to Building No. 2 the same way a card key does.
THE NORTH ELEVATOR IS
ソノ サキ 二 キタ
In the MSX2 version, Schneider gives you this information when you call him one screen east from the northern elevator in the basement of Building No. 2 (where you fight Fire Trooper), but with slightly different wording (the MSX2 text used コノ/kono instead of ソノ/sono). The elevators in Building No. 2 only move in one direction, making the northern elevator (the one that goes up) the only way to leave the basement. In the NES version, the basement was turned into a separate base, Building No. 5, which is located in the west maze between Building No. 2 and 3. Since Building No. 5 has no elevator (Fire Trooper guards Dr. Pettrovich's cell instead), this message was replaced with an entirely different piece of advice. Despite this, the original message was not only kept in the game's data, but translated for the English version as well.
|Transcript||コチラ BIG BOSS...|
This is an incoming call from Big Boss that he makes when the player reaches the corridor with electrified floor on the third floor of Building No. 1. This message was unused in the Famicom version, but the translated text ended up being used in the NES version. The Japanese text is mostly complete, aside from the omission of the "...OVER" text string that is used at end of each of Big Boss' radio messages.
The US version was the first game ever published by Ultra Games, a Konami imprint created to get around Nintendo of America's restrictions that only allowed third-party companies to publish five NES games per year, and thus the company's logo was replaced accordingly. A "TM" was also added next to the company and title logos, while the copyright text was expanded and moved below the main menu.
The European version changed the company's logo back to the Konami one, but the coloring is different from the one used in the Japanese version. The "TM" next to the Metal Gear logo was changed and the copyright text was simplified, removing all info pertaining to Ultra Games.
The icons for the handgun, RC missiles, rocket launcher, and grenade launcher on the weapon selection screen were slightly polished for the NES version. The handgun icon in particular was not displayed correctly on the Famicom version due to the wrong tiles being assigned for the bottom portion, a mistake which was corrected on the NES version. The palette used for most of the icons was also slightly lightened (the separate palette that is used for the land mines and RC missiles was unchanged).
The icon for the bomb blast suit was recolored a bit, giving it a bit of polish. The flashlight icon was also slightly redesigned so that it doesn't look like it's touching the antidote icon above it, but an incorrect tile was applied for the bottom-right portion. All the other icons on the equipment selection screen remained the same.
Solid Snake's radio communicator on the transceiver screen was given a much more complex design in the NES version. The word "TRANSCEIVER" was also recolored from gray to white and aligned a bit more to the top.
Electric Panel Room
In the MSX2 version, when you reach the electrified floor on the third floor of Building No. 1 (two screens south from the east elevator), you will receive an incoming call from Big Boss basically telling you to contact Schneider in order to find out where the remote control missiles needed to destroy the switch panel and proceed. In the Famicom version, this was changed to having Schneider himself call you and just outright tell you where you can find the missiles.
Since Schneider's frequency number is never given in-game during the first half of the game (you'll receive an automatic transmission from Schneider introducing himself when you set the frequency number to 120.79 in certain areas of the first floor or in front of the west elevator on the third floor, but nobody actually tells you to call that number), it is unclear if this was a deliberate change to help new players out or if it was just an oversight (as Big Boss' message is still present in the game's code in a mostly finished state). A gas-covered room on the same floor has an incoming call from Big Boss where he gives the player the same advice in regards to finding the gas mask, which went unchanged in the Famicom version. At any rate, the NES version simply changed it back to how it was on the MSX2 original.
The NES version adds a few civilian vehicles as part of the scenery that were not present in the Famicom version. Can you spot the difference?
The password system used in the Japanese and American versions consist of an alphanumeric set of 32 characters (six numbers and 26 letters). In the European version, the character set was changed by replacing all the vowels and certain consonants with additional numbers and symbols while rearranging them a bit. One of the new symbols in the European version just happens to be a star just like the one used as a cursor to input passwords in the other versions, so the cursor used for the European version became an arrow pointing upwards. Passwords from the Japanese/American version can be converted for the European version (and vice-versa) by simply switching out the characters for their equivalents.
This change was likely the result of a change in policy by Nintendo in order to prevent developers from creating passwords with profanities in them, as one of the passwords generated by the Japanese/American version of the game (which takes the player to the final boss battle with no weapons or equipment) consists of the phrase "FUCKME" as the first six characters, with the rest of the spaces filled with 1's. A similar change was made to the password system in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
Bomb Blast Suit Location
When the player contacts Schneider in front of the elevator on the roof of Building No. 1, he will tell Snake the location of the bomb blast suit needed to pass through the wind barrier...except the location he gives is wrong. The bomb blast suit is actually located in Building No. 4, which is located west to the maze between Building No. 1 and No. 2. Since Building No. 4 is the NES equivalent of the Building No. 1 basement from the MSX2 version (both locations serve as the place where Grey Fox is kept prisoner), this suggests that the bomb blast suit was going to be relocated to the second floor of Building No. 1 at one point and the programmers either didn't have enough time to make the change or decided not to go through with it and forgot to rewrite the advice accordingly.
Misattributed Frequency Numbers
For some reason, you can contact Diane using Jennifer's frequency number on the southern end of the desert between Building No. 2 and 3 instead of using Diane's current number at that point (120.91). This was likely the result of a coding oversight.
A similar oversight also occurs in front of the door with two laser cams in the basement of Building No. 3 (one screen west from the elevator). if you dial Schneider's first frequency number in that area, you will get an automatic transmission from Jennifer telling you where you can get the cardkey required for that door.
Misplaced Radio Calls
The NES version preserves the same room-oriented messaging system used in the MSX2 version, in which the calls you get from your radio contacts are based entirely on the locations where they're made. However, because of the extensive level design changes that the game underwent during the porting process, some of the messages are now in places where they don't make much sense in context.
- If you call Schneider (120.79) on the first floor of Building No. 1 outside the room where the gas mask is located (one screen north from the southern entrance), he will tell you the location of the mine detector. However, there are no mines in that particular spot. The same spot in the MSX2 version contains two enemy trucks surrounded by enemy mines, where the advice makes more sense. He will also return this message if you call him outside the northern entrance of Building No. 1, but there aren't any enemy mines until two screens north, with another minefield two screens further north (one screen north from the area with the tank boss).
- In the MSX2 version, if you call Big Boss (120.85) on the first few locations on the first floor of Building No. 1 (such as the parked trucks containing the first card key and the binoculars or outside the locked room containing the gas mask), he will give you advice on how to acquire items from said trucks and use card keys to open doors. This advice is still played on the very same spots in the NES version, despite some of those areas no longer containing said trucks or room (the trucks with the binoculars and card key were moved to the outdoor area prior to reaching Building No. 1, while the room with the gas mask was moved one screen north from its original spot).
- In the very first area of the game, one screen north from the transport truck that takes you to the front entrance of Building No. 1 (an area with two enemy soldiers and a grey building), if you use the transceiver with the antenna in your inventory (which is required for communications in the later areas of the game), you will receive an automatic transmission from Diane on her second number (120.91) telling you to watch out for pit traps. There are no pit traps in that spot. However, she will call to deliver that same message on the northern end of the secret passage connecting Building No. 4 and No. 5.
- Calling Diane's first number (120.33) outside the backdoor of Building No. 1 will trigger a return from her brother Steve. The same thing also happens if you call her second number (120.91) in certain spots on the rooftop of Building No. 2 near the northern elevator. These are the same messages you'll get when you try to contact Diane while fighting the Shotgunner and Fire Trooper respectively. Normally, Diane's number is only available during boss battles or when encountering certain obstacles such as the aforementioned pitfalls and killer scorpions.