Snatcher is a cyberpunk adventure game, written and directed by Hideo Kojima. The player assumes the role of Gillian Seed, a new recruit to an elite police task force known as J.U.N.K.E.R. The player's goal is to investigate the emergence of the mysterious race known as the Snatchers, a race of cybernetic beings that kill humans and steal their appearance. The game takes place in the year 2046 on the artificial island of Neo Kobe 50 years after the explosion of a warhead destroyed large parts of eastern Europe in an event called the "Catastrophe." The game draws heavily from popular science fiction movies such as Blade Runner, Terminator, Akira and Aliens in both setting and character design as well as containing references to other Konami projects such as Metal Gear, Contra, Goemon and Castlevania. The game saw a remake which used a super-deformed art style with RPG style gameplay, known as SD Snatcher.
Originally released for the NEC PC-8801 in Japan in 1988, the game has been remade several times for various platforms, including the PC-Engine CD, PlayStation and Sega Saturn. The only English language translation was released for the SegaCD/MegaCD in Europe and America on December 15, 1994. The Sega CD version was the first to have light gun support, using Sega's Justifier light gun peripheral.
Snatcher is a heavily text-based adventure, and most images are shown in a first person perspective, though there are a few cinematic shots. Throughout the game, the player is given a menu in order to interact with their environment. Most often, players have the 'Look' and 'Investigate' options available for interaction with the environment, and 'Use Metal Gear' and Inventory' options for other things. In special situations, players can speak with other characters, and show them items. At times, Gillian can also smell and search areas (or people). In most cases, the player must use choices more than once to get a complete picture of events and to move the story forward.
There are special instances in the game where further interaction is available. First, there is one particular area that players can search with a flashlight. More commonly, the player must use their blaster to take down enemies. When the opportunity arises, players press a specified button to draw their weapon, and another button to fire. A grid is shown on the screen which the player navigates in order to take out enemies. Both of these sequences are not common occurrences. The game was originally meant to be played with a light gun for the shooting sequences.
Act 1: Snatch
This cyberpunk adventure begins as Gillian Seed begins his first day on the Japanese Undercover Neuro-Kinetic Elimination Ranger (J.U.N.K.E.R.) force, dedicated to protecting Humanity from murderous cybernetic criminals known as "Snatchers". We learn in the beginning that Gillian and his wife both have amnesia, and were discovered a few years prior. He and his wife, lacking memory of their relationship, are not seeing each other very often anymore. Gillian is shown around J.U.N.K.E.R. headquarters, where he meets Mika Slayton, the engineer Harry Benson, and the Chief Benson Cunningham. Gillian receives his blaster and his navigator, Metal Gear Mk.II. As soon as Gillian meets his partner, he receives a videophone call through Metal Gear from another J.U.N.K.E.R., Jean Jack Gibson. Jean Jack Gibson is in trouble, and needs help immediately. Gillian, though it is only his first day on the job, rushes off to complete his first task as a Junker. He rushes to the wreckage of an old building from which the call was made.
Upon arrival, the presence of an artificial pollen called Snow 9 is discovered, which is a sign of Snatcher presence. Gillian and Metal Gear go and explore the building, but all they find are the remains of Gibson's navigator, Little John, and Gibson's corpse. They discover that Gibson's head had been twisted off, something only a Snatcher would have the strength to do. They investigate to discover clues on both Gibson's corpse and Little John's memory bank. No Snatchers seem to be present, however, so the two move out to further investigate, hoping to identify the Snatcher that killed Gibson.
Everyone at J.U.N.K.E.R. HQ is very hurt by the news that Jean Jack is dead, complicating the situation for Gillian. He consoles his comrades, and then moves forward in the investigation by searching Gibson's house. Gillian goes to Jean Jack's home, and speaks with his daughter, Katrina. While searching the home, he finds critical information regarding the identification of Snatchers. He learns that their artificial skin cannot cope with ultraviolet radiation, requiring them to operate at night, and use sunscreen at all times. As soon as he has this info, he moves out, hoping to utilize this to discover Gibson's murderer. Gillian also discovers an acquaintance of Jean Jack's, an informant codenamed "Napoleon". Napoleon provides information about Plato's Cavern and Outer Heaven, two places well known in the Neo-Kobe underground.
Gillian's search leads him to a black market dealer and an underground restaurant, the only place in Neo Kobe that serves buffalo meat (which had been found in Gibson's stomach). He goes to this restaurant, Outer Heaven, and interrogates both the manager and one of the strippers. These interrogations give him a description of the man who must have killed Gibson, and Gillian and Metal Gear rush back to J.U.N.K.E.R. HQ to use this description. The features described by the hooker at Outer Heaven lead Gillian to two suspects: Ivan Rodriguez and Freddy Nielsen. Gillian and Metal Gear first head to Rodriguez's apartment, located in a very rough area of town. When they get to his residence, Ivan comes out shooting. Gillian quickly disarms and interrogates him. Upon further investigation, evidence reveals that Ivan is not a Snatcher. All is not in vain, however, as Ivan is in possession of an illegal drug, explaining his actions, and he is later arrested by civilian police. Gillian now goes to find the other suspect, Freddy Nielsen.
Gillian arrives at the Nielsen home only to discover Freddy isn't around. After questioning Nielsen's wife and searching for concrete evidence of Freddy's state, Gillian is attacked by his wife, who is a Snatcher. After killing her, Gillian and Metal Gear leave the scene, but as they do, a light comes on. They go back to figure out what happened, only to be attacked by Freddy Nielsen. Nielsen has Gillian by the neck, and Gillian seems helpless. Just before all hope is lost, a civilian bounty hunter, Random Hajile, saves Gillian.
Act 2: Cure
Gillian's first move in Act 2 is to find any information he can about the Snatchers' illicit hospital where they treat their skin. First, by searching the memory banks of Little John, an image of a neon sign that says 'Hospital Oleen' is discovered. For further information, Gillian seeks out Napoleon. Napoleon knows of an Oleen hospital, and provides Gillian with information on it for the right price. Gillian and Metal Gear rush to Oleen hospital, only to discover it is a veterinary clinic. Without bothering to investigate inside, they assume that the neon sign in the image from Little John must have been broken, and they need to find more clues.
Once the two finish speaking to Napoleon, they receive an urgent call concerning Katina Gibson. She had called in a panic earlier, requesting Gillian's help. Gillian immediately travels to her home, to find it torn apart. Gillian observes the scene, and finds evidence that it is a Snatcher's doing. When Gillian is just about to leave to find Katrina, Alice, the Gibsons' dog, is thrown through the window in a bloody mess. Hoping to find Katrina in one piece, Gillian and Metal Gear search for any place they may find her. When their search yields no results, they return to Gillian's apartment. Once the pair arrives at the apartment, they discover someone has been there.They enter cautiously and find that someone is using the bathroom. Slowly, they enter, and open the shower only to find Katrina, who quickly sprays Gillian in fright. Once she is decent, it is time for an explanation. Gillian questions Katrina, and she tells him why she came to his house, and what the Snatchers were doing in her home; She had found more clues. All three of them then attempt to figure out what was missing from Little John's image. They conclude that the Snatcher hospital is not "Oleen", rather, it is Queen's Hospital. With this newfound information, Gillian and Metal Gear head for their next destination.
Upon arriving at Queen's Hospital, our heroes find a dark, abandoned building. It seems no one has been there for ages. The continue their investigation to find some interesting things in one of the rooms. They find a map of Russia, which is consistent with the Snatchers' strange obsession with Russia, and one piece of patient data left behind. The patient record is written in a complex form of Chinese, so the two need help to decode it. Once again, Gillian seeks the help of Napoleon.
Gillian and Metal Gear find Napoleon at Outer Heaven. Luckily, Napoleon, a purebred Chinese man, knows the symbols on the patient record. It is a puzzle involving the periodic table. The group decodes the message, discovering the patient's name is 'Benson.' Shocked, Gillian rushes off to J.U.N.K.E.R. HQ; there are only two Bensons he knows of. Unfortunately, neither the Chief nor Harry are at HQ. Gillian thoroughly searches the building for any clue, and finds a message from Harry. "Face to Face" is all that he left for them. Gillian further searches, realizing what this clue means. It refers to a painting in the Chief's office, an optical illusion, which shows both a vase and two faces. Gillian investigates, and discovers an image of Red Square in Moscow behind the painting. Believing that the Chief is probably a Snatcher, they leave to try and track him down. As they are leaving, they receive a videophone call from Gillian's wife, Jamie Seed. She has somehow discovered that Queen's Hospital installed a basement. This must be where they are operating from! Gillian and Metal Gear rush back to the hospital.
All does not go as planned, however. As soon as they begin driving the turbocycle, they discover it has been sabotaged. Gillian constantly struggles to find a way to stop the vehicle, but to no avail. Once again, Random Hajile comes to the rescue just before Gillian meets his end. Random joins the two, and they head to the hospital.
Once they arrive, they immediately search for and find the secret basement. They search all around, and eventually come across the Snatchers' morgue, containing four Human corpses. Metal Gear analyzes the bodies, to identify them and find out if the Snatchers had assumed their identities. The first two bodies are the Nielsens, the second is Chin Shu Oh, who once ran the hospital... and the third to Chief Benson Cunningham. With this new discovery, the three attempt to leave, only to encounter Chin Shu Oh and other Snatchers. All hope seems lost, but Random has one last trick up his sleeve. He tells Gillian to escape through a nearby ventilation shaft, and he uses explosives attached to himself to take down the building in a suicide attack.
After the explosion, Gillian and Metal Gear find themselves in a long shaft, and observe that it was likely used by Snatchers to travel. They go further down to find it connects to an abandoned subway rail, which the Snatchers must have used to get around. They walk through the Snatcher Underground Railroad, looking for an exit. They eventually come across a ladder, which appears to take them out. They use this ladder, only to end up in the Nielsens home. They conclude this must have been how Freddy Nielsen entered the home without being noticed to attack Gillian. They had to get back to J.U.N.K.E.R. HQ immediately, and leave.
To get back to HQ, Gillian calls up a taxi. When Gillian requests he be taken to J.U.N.K.E.R. HQ, the driver acts strangely. It turns out that the driver is actually Chin Shu Oh, and Gillian takes him out. Once that is over, they rush off to J.U.N.K.E.R. HQ in the comandeered taxi.
When Gillian arrives, he finds that someone has attacked HQ. Mika has been locked into her pod, and Metal Gear attempts to open it. Once open, they find Mika unconscious. They revive her, and she tells them that Harry ran in after Chief Cunningham, and locked the door behind. She allows them to go inside, and they dash inside to help Harry. Gillian and Metal Gear find Harry laying in a pool of his own blood. Harry tells them how he discovered that the Chief was a Snatcher, but was no match for the murderous robot. Harry then dies in Gillian's arms. Enraged, Gillian is determined to get revenge for Harry's death. Once again, he searches HQ. Gillian finds the Chief clinging to the ceiling of his office, and kills him.
Act 3: Junk
Act 3 begins with Gillian, Metal Gear, and Mika going over all that has happened up to that point. They discuss the Snatchers' weaknesses, those who have been discovered to be Snatchers, and the mysterious information that has been gathered. Upon studying all they know, they notice some actual links between the Snatchers and Russia, the country they're so obsessed with. It seems the Snatchers all consider this place their home.
At this time, Metal Gear reveals that he actually knows all about Gillian and his mysterious past. Gillian and his wife Jamie were found cryogenically frozen in a Russian facility near the spot where the Catastrophe, a nuclear attack that devastated all of Europe, had occurred. There was one other pod, but it was empty. Jamie and Gillian both had amnesia as a result of the cryogenic suspension, and knew nothing. After inexplicably moving to Japan, Gillian joined the J.U.N.K.E.R. squad hoping it would help him recover their lost memories. Gillian also discovers that Harry Benson was he and Jamie's fully grown son.
The three decide to find the place that the Snatchers are gathered in Neo-Kobe. The conclude it must be in an area near a river from which Snow 9 originates, and a place easily accessible through the subway tunnels. All signs point to the Snatchers hiding in an old abandoned chapel, which somehow seems to line up with the Moscow river. Gillian, deciding this must be the secret hideout of the Snatchers, rushes to the scene.
Unfortunately for the J.U.N.K.E.R.s, time is short. The Kyoto Summit discussing the Snatcher problem is getting together, and in approximately three hours, all authority J.U.N.K.E.R. has will be dissolved. They would also vote whether or not to completely destroy Neo-Kobe with nuclear weapons to end the Snatcher threat once and for all. Gillian must work quickly.
Once Gillian and Metal Gear arrive, they find the church empty. The enter, and see a portrait of a man called "Modnar," who is clearly Random Hajile. They go further in, and find the snatchers being prepared to act as humans. They find data planning to snatch and replace many major world leaders and Gillian himself. With little time left, Metal Gear psychotically reveals that if ordered to by Kyoto, he will murder Gillian. Gillian asks Metal Gear to go out and attempt to convince the delegates in Kyoto to give him more time. Metal Gear agrees, and leaves Gillian to continue by himself.
Gillian moves on, and encounters numerous Snatchers. He kills them and moves into the final chamber, where he finds Jamie, who explains how she was captured and taken to work on the development of a perfect artificial skin for the Snatchers with Dr. Modnar. Dr. Modnar was well past 100 years of age, however, and had passed on minutes before Gillian's arrival. Jamie cries about how she did it because they threatened to take their son's life, and Gillian tells her how their son, Harry, was already murdered by the Snatchers.
Another man reveals himself at this point. An old man in a wheelchair, Dr. Elijah Modnar. He had captured is father, the elder Dr. Modnar, to perfect his snatchers. He describes to Jamie and Gillian how he was recruited long ago to work on this project with them to simulate humans. The Snatchers were intended as a means of taking power over all other nations, the ultimate weapon. He worked on the team with Jamie, and fell in love with her. At one point in time, his only motivation to work was his love for her. Later, Gillian was hired to work with the psychological properties of the Snatchers. Jamie and Gillian fell in love and were married. Elijah was furious at this, and plotted to end it all. He set off the massive weapon Lucifer Alpha, creating the Catastrophe, and had Gillian and Jamie join him in cryogenic freezing. His plan was to leave Gillian frozen, and awaken Jamie so they could live together in peace. When he final woke up, however, he could not bring himself to do it. Instead he worked day after day, observing her silent, peaceful state. He had also realized that there would be no way he could convince her to carry on working after she realized that he'd killed billions of people because he was jealous of her love, so he left her and Gillian in suspension. Eventually, he fled, and Gillian and Jamie's bodies stayed in stasis for many years, so long that amnesia was a side effect, before they were discovered, setting the events of the game in motion.
Elijah continued working on the snatchers, but could never perfect the skin. He knew his father could finish the job, so he sought his help. However, his father refused. This was no problem, as Elijah Modnar had discovered a "kinetic being" like a Snatcher, created by his father. He reveals that Random Hajile was this perfect robotic being, and by taking a sample of his skin, Elijah Modnar could perfect his snatchers and carry out his plans.
Metal Gear, strapped with explosives, appears at the scene. The delegates in Kyoto had agreed not to take action if this chapel was destroyed. In ten minutes, a blast would be sent destroying the chapel, which would qualify as Kyoto taking action. Multiple Snatchers appear to stop Jamie and Gillian's escape. Once more, Random Hajile comes to the rescue, though he was thought dead. He takes Elijah Modnar by the neck, and demands that the Snatchers stand down and let Jamie and Gillian escape. They agree, and the two escape just in time, right as the church is obliterated.
The closing scene of Snatcher has Gillian and Jamie discussing their plans for the future. Gillian is preparing to take a short trip to Russia to try and regain his memory. He and Jamie plan to live together once again. Mika and Katrina come to wave him off and congratulate him on his successful mission. Mika reveals that the J.U.N.K.E.R. squad will remain intact, with a new Chief. As Gillian is about to leave, a newly fashioned Metal Gear arrives. Random dived upon him, saving him from the blast.
The first release of Snatcher was in 1988 for the NEC PC-8801 and MSX2, both on floppy disks. In order for consistent sound, the MSX2 version included an audio cartridge. Both versions ended at Act 2. The PC Engine version added the 3rd Act in addition to improving graphics and sound thanks to the CD-ROM's expanded capabilities.
The Sega CD was the first iteration to support any type of light gun, utilizing Sega's Justifier.
Some of the main changes in the English localized version of Snatcher were the result of different censorship policies in each country. The American version saw Katrina's age changed from 14 to 18, due to a shower scene and Gillian's treatment of her. At one point in Japanese version, a bare breast was shown, and it was covered up in the English version. Certain animations were also cut, such as the twitching of decapitated corpses in the game. The English version also saw customers at Outer Heaven dressed as Konami characters, while the Japanese title had the guests dressed as sci-fi characters, a change made to avoid legal problems in the west. Another change to avoid legal problems was the appearance of the Snatchers themselves, who got an overhaul in appearance to tone down their originally deliberate resemblance to the Terminator. Gillian's eye colour is changed from brown to blue in the English SEGA CD version, most likely for aesthetic purposes.
In addition, Act 3 was modified to make the playing experience more interactive. Act 3's introduction and ending cutscenes were also expanded.
The murder of Alice the dog in the Japan-only PS1 release of Snatcher was changed to a more decent depiction when compared to the Sega CD version; while the Sega CD shows Alice's corpse from the front, her intestines leaking from her torso, the PS1 version shows her from behind, only showing a pool of blood.
Connections to Other Games
Snatcher is filled with references to other Konami titles.
- In the Japanese version of the game, the guests inside Outer Heaven were dressed as characters from famous science fiction franchises, but these were changed to Konami characters in the English release, including Goemon from The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Simon Belmont and Dracula from Castlevania, and Lance and Bill from Contra.
- The script was translated into English by Jerry Blaustein, who later translated Metal Gear Solid.
- The game's manual (English Sega CD) was done by Kevin O'Donohue, who did the manual for Metal Gear.
- There's a Moai Head mask in Napoleon's shop in reference to Konami's Gradius series shmup.
- The restaurant which Gillian visits for information multiple times is named Outer Heaven, the name of Big Boss's haven in the Metal Gear series
- Gillian's navigator is Metal Gear Mk.II, inspired by the bipedal tanks which lend their namesake to the Metal Gear games. A non-sentient robot tool appears in Metal Gear Solid 4 as one of Solid Snake's pieces of equipment, also known as Metal Gear mk. II.
The soundtrack to Snatcher was first composed by Kukeiha Club, Konami's in-house sound production team and published by King Records in 1989. It contains the MIDI sequenced soundtrack found on the MSX and PC-8801 versions of the game and features English narration throughout the album. The soundtrack for the Sega CD version was arranged by Kazuo Hashi and Yuzo Hayashi and features a more vibrant sound due to the Sega CD's cutting edge 32khz audio chip. It was released in 1992 as The Cyber Punk Adventure Snatcher -Zoom Tracks- and is the version most players will be familiar with.
Total length: 49:54
- AD 2042 Neo Kobe City
- Bio Hazard
- Twilight of Neo Kobe City
- Evil Ripple
- Theme of Snatcher
- Creeping Silence ~Criminal Omen~ Danger Dance... & Justice All
- Innocent Girl
- Theme of Jaime
- Decadence Beat
- The Entrance To Hell ~ Theme of Izabel
- Theme of Katherine
- Theme of Junker
- Blow Up Tricycle
- Spreading Diehard ~ Eternal Promise (Goodbye Randam)
- Faded Memories
- Restoration ~ Pleasure of Tention ~ Endless Pursuer
- Beyond Sorrows
- Master of Puppets Among The Disease
- Theme of Ending
Snatcher: The Syber Punk Adventure -Zoom Tracks-
Total length: 44:32
- Bio Hazard
- One Night In Neo Kobe City
- Twilight of Neo Kobe City
- Theme of SNATCHER (Part 1)
- Theme of SNATCHER (Part 2)
- Theme of Jamie
- Pleasure of Tension
- Faded Memories
- Eternal Promise (Good-Bye Randam)
- Beyond Sorrows
- Tear-stained Eyes