It’s been nearly 20 years since the first Metal Gear Solid game landed on the PlayStation. Though it wasn’t the first stealth game ever, it was definitely an early contender that helped popularize —and is now synonymous with the— genre. Not only that, but Kojima’s lovechild has also pervaded our culture. I mean, just try walking past a stack of boxes without getting the urge to hide.
It changed the way we interacted with games, pushing us out of our comfort zone and challenging us to think outside of the box. Or, in the case of the first game, literally forcing us to examine the box itself. Playing a Metal Gear game isn’t just about sitting stationary in front of a screen. It’s about immersion—inviting intriguing characters, crazy plots, conspiracy theories, corny dialogue, and behind-the-scenes drama into your home.
However, the Metal Gear franchise, in all its convoluted glory, isn’t perfect. If it were, then it wouldn’t be nearly as special, worthwhile, or impactful. The franchise’s charm lies in its mistakes, its risks, and its insane creator. During Kojima’s tenure, there were many meme-able moments like the need for a “weapon to surpass Metal Gear” and the now infamous, “Kept you waiting, huh?” It’s a series that rewards loyal fans with inside jokes and jabs at itself.
So quit fiddling around and join us as we count down 15 memes that only true Metal Gear Solid fans would understand.
15 Surviving In MGS3
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater added an interesting survival element to the game. For better or worse, Snake now had to stalk and kill animals for nourishment and treat his own injuries, adding another level of difficulty to an already challenging game.
It also created some awkward moments. Imagine crawling through the grass unnoticed in full camouflage only to be discovered by the enemy because your stomach growled. As you fight for your life, you suffer a gunshot wound forcing you to enter the survival viewer to begin surgery on yourself. While you’re there, you decide to eat because your health is low and you can’t recover on an empty stomach.
You finally get yourself in order and exit the viewer only to be reminded you are surrounded. It’s hilarious—once you get over the frustration of being killed—and totally unrealistic, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
14 Civil War — Solid Snake Vs. Raiden
Kojima shocked fans once again (seriously, he should get a gig planning surprise parties) when he swapped Solid Snake with Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2. Well, maybe “shocked” isn’t the right word. He pissed off a lot of people. Who was this new guy who seemed to be the opposite of Snake in every way?
Many begrudgingly saw the game through to its conclusion (hoping that Solid Snake would reappear) and, over time, found themselves invested in Raiden’s story. Some even implied Raiden was a better character than Snake, and that is what started this debate.
Many message boards are dedicated to fantasy fights between the ninja cyborg and the CQC champion based on age, skills, and various combat conditions. On the friendship-ending scale, this debate comes in just under Monopoly, meaning these wounds can be healed from the survival viewer.
13 Getting Played Like A Fiddle
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Local man reports that he and his associate were played “like a damn fiddle.”
“Kaz” Miller utters this hilarious piece of dialogue after Mother Base, Militaires Sans Frontières’ stronghold, is destroyed in a surprise attack by the United Nations. “Kaz” was under the impression that the United Nations was simply going to inspect the base. He didn’t expect them to use the inspection as a ruse to sink it into the ocean.
“Kaz” starts off calmly explaining the situation to Big Boss. However, he soon becomes so overwhelmed that he jumps to his feet and yells, “They played us like a damn fiddle!” The line feels completely out of place with the serious tone of the scene, resulting in a series of jokes and parodies that cemented its place in meme history.
12 Cutscenes! Cutscenes Everywhere!
When a game is plagued with crazy plot twists, diverging and converging storylines, triple betrayals, and mysterious organizations/programs, it can be difficult to follow. So, how do you make it easier for your players? Well, if you’re Kojima, you include obnoxiously long, convoluted, but entertaining, cutscenes.
Of course, so many cutscenes means less gameplay (or at least it feels that way), making the game sometimes feel like it is an interactive movie, which is actually kind of cool if the story is important to you. If not, it can be a bit frustrating.
Metal Gear fans have gotten pretty savvy when it comes to these, often putting down the controller to do things like eat, stretch, or blink. There is the option to skip the cutscenes, but if you aren’t playing Metal Gear for the story, then are you really playing it at all?
11 The All-Knowing Psycho Mantis
“Now let me read your mind. No. . . perhaps I should say your past.”
Psycho Mantis speaks these words to Solid Snake in the original Metal Gear game. The self-proclaimed “most powerful practitioner of psychokinesis and telepathy in the world” then proceeds to read Snake’s mind—or, rather, the system’s memory card. After rattling off the names of games you’ve played and judging your playing styles based on how often you save, he then tops off his performance by making your controller move (vibrate) with his mind.
However, he isn’t done. During the battle, he is impossible to beat because he is “reading your mind.” After many frustrating losses, players eventually figured out that you had to switch your controller from port #1 to port #2, blocking his mind-reading capabilities. This encounter is easily one of the one of the most memorable in video game history.
10 The Evolution Of The Lowly Storage Box
The Metal Gear series is well known for its stealth play. You can clear an entire area without alerting a nearby guard if you’re crafty enough. There are many places to hide such as behind walls, trees, or vehicles. If you happen to find yourself in an area without options, don’t fret. Just whip out your trusty cardboard box and wait for the threat to pass.
Metal Gear taught an entire generation that boxes have a real-world application that extends beyond that of moving day. Trying to avoid your crazy ex or need to hide from creditors? No problem! Just equip the box. As long as you’re not in the wrong place or a guard's path, it’s likely that you’ll survive to fight another day.
Why not repurpose your storage boxes today?
9 Breaking The Fourth Wall
It’s not a Metal Gear game if the 4th wall isn’t broken at least once. The encounter with Psycho Mantis is probably the most notable, but there are more where that came from. For example, characters often tell the player what buttons they need to push to complete a task (“Press the action button!”), offer advice (encouraging players to save the game), or force the player to complete tasks in the real world to advance the plot.
Perhaps the most infamous of the latter happens when Snake must locate Meryl’s codec frequency. Or, rather, I should say that the player must find it. At Campbell’s suggestion, players checked the back of their game case, and there it was! Say what you will about Kojima, he certainly knows how to keep players immersed and on their toes.
8 TFW David Hayter Got Fired
After more than ten years with the Metal Gear series, it was revealed at E3 that David Hayter, the voice actor behind Solid Snake and Naked Snake, would not return for Metal Gear Solid V, and everyone was genuinely shocked. Hideo Kojima later went on to explain the rationale behind his decision, explaining he needed an actor that could give a “more subdued performance” to match the game’s darker tone.
Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer on 24) replaced Hayter, and we couldn’t help but wonder if Kojima just wanted a big name attached to his project. Especially, when you realize he unsuccessfully tried to replace Hayter with Kurt Russell in the past
Though sometimes campy, Hayter’s voice work was never out of line with Metal Gear’s delightfully over-the-top and complicated storyline. Kojima may be a genius, but Hayter will always be Snake to us.
7 The True Bringer Of The Voice
Everyone remembers that scene in The Dark Knight when Batman (played by Christian Bale) manhandles the Joker, yelling, “Where are they!?” The scene blew up overnight, which basically means memes and parodies. However, before Batman, there was another character known for his gravelly voice—Solid Snake (as voiced by David Hayter)!
There’s nothing like the feeling you get when Snake receives intel, and he responds with, “You mean Metal Gear?” Seriously, “metal gear” has to be the most uttered phrase in the series and Hayter manages to make it sound brand new each time he says it. He is the one true voice, unlike Bale.
Bale thinks the voice is his ally, but he was merely adopted by the voice. Hayter was born in it and molded by it. He did not know another voice until he was canned, and by then it was nothing to him but noise (couldn’t resist)!
6 The Need To Know All The Things
The Metal Gear Solid series is known for its complicated story and crazy twists that keep you on the edge of your seat. The Patriots, FOXDIE, the S3 Plan, the Miller/Liquid switcheroo, and more had enough mystery and intrigue to draw us in.
Nearly every encounter (or piece of technology) is significant and will come back into play later in the story. For instance, when The Boss seemingly betrayed Naked Snake only for us to discover that she sacrificed herself to prevent a war, which subsequently resulted in the formation of the Patriots
At one point Kojima even had us question the very nature of reality as Raiden realized that the Campbell and Rose he thought he knew were nothing more than AI. Kojima is a master at providing partial answers that lead to even more questions, which is a huge reason why these games are so addicting.
5 The Latest In Stealth Technology
When it was revealed that Snake would get a horse in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, the response from fans was positive. Then, in the same trailer, jaws hit the floor as they realized that Snake could hang onto the horse’s side to avoid detection. Jokes started flying as fans imagined Snake hiding in his iconic cardboard box while riding the horse.
You would think a series that pokes fun at itself and includes gag objects—such as Raikov’s mask—as much as Metal Gear would actually make this an in-game possibility. Imagine trotting past an enemy while in the box. They hear a sound, turn in its direction, and witness a box riding a horse. They assume no one is there (because Metal Gear enemies are dumb) and resume their patrol. It would have been great, but, alas, this never happened.
4 Tactical Espionage Action
How many times have you found yourself trying to sneak through an area with only a few guards, only to be caught, putting them on alert? Your first instinct might be to run for cover, but it’s likely too late for that. Killing the guard could work, but if you are too loud or they radio for help, then you will soon have your hands full.
Sometimes your only option is to Rambo your way out of a bad situation. After all, we can’t all be masters of stealth. If you’re determined to win (or know you haven’t saved in awhile), then you will find a way to survive. Besides, there is something strangely satisfying about killing every threat in the area. It allows you to roam around freely like the badass you are.
Some people really do like to watch the world burn.
3 Firing The Legend
When Konami fired Kojima in 2015, everyone was sure the world renowned game company had lost its mind. The success of the Metal Gear series made Kojima seem untouchable; he could do no wrong. At least, not in the eyes of gamers.
A few rumors are floating around suggesting that he was fired for wanting more money, delaying the game, and exceeding his budget, which suggests this was a classic battle between creativity and profit. Spoiler alert: Profit always wins in the game of capitalism.
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, Konami had the audacity to announce Metal Gear Survive, the first game in the series without Kojima at the helm. The cooperative multiplayer game has big shoes to fill and an uphill battle to fight to win over skeptical longtime fans.
2 Nanomachines! Wait, What Was The Question?
Nanomachines are a constant theme throughout the series. After all, both Snake and Raiden were injected with them, and the technology appears to evolve further with each new title. However, for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s final boss, Senator Armstrong, nanomachines are literally the answer to everything. After getting smacked around by the senator, a weary Raiden asks him why he won’t die. The senator responds, “Nanomachines, son.” He then removes his shirt, so Raiden can watch the nanomachines repair and protect his body.
Instead of accepting the line at face value, online fans decided to dig a little deeper. Giving it a whole meaning that was beneath the surface of the dialogue. “Nanomachines” has literally become the answer to incredible feats (such as the kid in the meme above) and common questions. It is the video game equivalent of, “Aliens.”
1 Raiden Has Had Enough Of Your Memes
Here is yet another piece of funny dialogue from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. In the game, Raiden encounters Monsoon, a cyborg ninja and one of the game’s bosses. In true Metal Gear fashion, a cutscene starts where Raiden and Monsoon converse about memes. The latter explains that there is no such thing as free will or religion as we are all controlled by memes.
After the two finish waxing philosophical, the battle begins. After Raiden defeats Monsoon, he mocks him and says, I kid you not, “Your memes end here.” Raiden's delivery is so serious and the line so absurd, that you can’t help but chuckle when you hear it. Monsoon then replies that he’s already passed a meme on to Raiden as if it were a disease.
Memes are the cockroaches of the Internet, and Raiden is so over them.