Stealth, Hideo Kojima before ‘Metal Gear Solid.
Many video game enthusiasts today know that Japanese developer Hideo Kojima is almost inseparable from Metal Gear Solid. The Konami-published stealth-action series starring Solid Snake was launched in 1998 by the original PlayStation. May soon remake it. However, the man has not stopped working in the years that have passed since Metal Gear Solid. He’s worked on several sequels and, most recently, 2019’s Dead Stranding through his own Kojima Productions. But he didn’t start his career during the PS1 era. It’s not true. Kojima’s gaming career dates back to the mid-1980s.
Yet, there is a connection between Kojima’s latest title, in which the player must balance and keep a digital Norman Reedus upright over rugged terrain, and his first. Although initially interested in film, Kojima made a few short films of his own. He also sold tickets for a zombie movie at his school; Kojima joined Konami as an employee in 1986. Soon after joining the company, he was able to get into production on a game with more bizarre and deeper gameplay than its adorable art.
Penguin Adventure, or Yume Tairiku Adobencha, was released in October 1986 when Kojima turned 23. It was made for MSX computers. It features Penta, the penguin, in the title. The player controls Penta as he races forward (Space Harrier style), collecting fish and dodging holes that could unbalance Penta and knock him down. This can also cost time. There are enemies and bosses that you will have to send plunging to their doom. But the most difficult challenge is the ticking clock. It can quickly run out before Penta reaches the final level. This is not a sprint, but a place for Penta, to take a break and have a beer before the next sprint.
Penta’s quest to find a magical, restorative apple to save the penguin princess and restore order to the Penguin Kingdom is made more accessible by a few shops where Inuit-styled sellers will sell you power-ups such as a gun for playing video games. These secretive shops are disguised as obstacles, so Penta may have to stumble a few times before finding the right ones. What is the currency of choice? The currency of choice? These stages are not limited to water and ice. Penta can also go into forests and caves if she has some magical wings.
The game ends with a bizarre message from Konami: “We promise that we continue sending romantic messages to you” – but Penguin Adventure credits don’t feature Kojima’s actual name. They do include Hiroyuki Fukui and Ryouhei Shogaki, who are both designers. His involvement as an assistant designer in the game has been revealed only in recent years. After Penguin Adventure, Kojima was involved in Lost World. It was set on Titanic but was dropped by Konami as it was too ambitious to be suitable for the MSX. The game Kojima made the next was not.
I won’t dwell too much on Metal Gear. This was Kojima’s first game. The 1987 top-down stealth-action video game for the MSX (and NES internationally) laid the groundwork for Metal Gear Solid. This is the beginning of Kojima’s fame. However, it was a while before he would achieve significant recognition in the West. He eventually became one of few game developers that people might recognize on the street. It’s important to note that the Metal Gear game wasn’t created out of anything by Kojima.