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The nature of video game development is such that games are often developed by large teams with a collaborative approach to creativity. While certain individuals within a team might possess more experience or sway than others, development studios are often trepid to present their works as being auteur-driven – as being directed by a singular artist that controls all creative aspects of the work, and imbues it with a recognizable style associated with them alone. But Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series is a notable exception to this trend. From the release of the original Metal Gear in 1987, to the release of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain in 2015, the series and its unique brand of military escapism mixed with magical realism has been inexorably linked with its auteurist guidance by series director and writer, Hideo Kojima.
However, while this auteurism enabled the series to be uncompromising in its ambitions in ways many other triple-A video game franchises cannot afford to be, many compromises were made to the Metal Gear Solid franchise all the same. Be it due to time constraints, hardware limitations, creative disagreements, or whatever other reason one could imagine, Metal Gear Solid – just like any other video game franchise – was built upon innumerable rejected concepts and ideas. With the future of the series highly uncertain following the departure of Hideo Kojima and other notable talents attached to the series from Konami, we felt that it would be worthwhile to investigate some of the series’ more fleshed-out rebuffs, to both wonder about what could have been – and show how many of these failures served as the foundation for future successes. From an ambitious iteration of Metal Gear Solid 2 featuring great white sharks and a mind-reading mask, to a subversive spin-off that went as far as to be showcased on-stage at E3 before being cancelled, and then revived under a different name and developer, the history of the Metal Gear Solid series’ rejected concepts illustrates that while some of the most inspired ideas will never see the light of day, others just need the right time and place to flourish.
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