|What’s the big deal anyway?
If you have not played this game, take the time to track down a copy on Sega CD and a system to play it on. It is not easy to find these days, but it is definitely worth the effort.
Snatcher is a text-menu based graphic adventure. Technologically it is not much more advanced than the early Wizardry games, but this is not a game you play to enjoy “gee whiz” graphics. This is one of those VERY rare experiences in gaming where you become completely involved in a story and actually care about the characters you encounter. The plot twists as much as a mountain side goat trail but is sometimes as predictable as any Raymond Chandler style hard-boiled detective story. The similarities to “Blade Runner” are more than coincidence. You play the part of Gillian Seed, an amnesiac newly assigned to the JUNKER special police force. Your goals are twofold, eliminate the bioroid Snatchers and attempt to recover your lost memory.
Snatcher has been released in various versions for a total of 6 platforms. In addition to various ports between the NEC PC 8801, MSX2, PC Engine Super CD ROM, Sega CD, Saturn and Playstation. There was also a more RPG’ish “SD Snatcher” (SD = Super Deformed, or “big heads” anime style) game for the MSX2 series of home computers and a “Snatcher Pilot Disc” (game preview/database) for the PC Engine Super CD System. The Sega CD release is unique amongst all of them in that it is the only version to date that supports a control pad & light gun play system.
The Sega CD version was the first chance for American gamers to experience Kojima’s signature style of gaming. The NES version of Metal Gear barely counts in this respect since the translation rendered the game almost unplayable and even more so because the Famicom/NES version of Metal Gear is at best the mentally disabled cousin of the original MSX Metal Gear. In Snatcher (and Policenauts and Metal Gear Solid at later dates) Kojima provides the player with more details on medical procedures and paramilitary technology than one might think possible within the boundaries of a game.
Background facts for players of the Sega CD version
“Alton Plaza” is a reference to a building in the Shinjuku section of Tokyo called Studio Alta. Alta is indeed a popular place for young couples to meet and it does have a very large video monitor which shows commercials for the crowds in the area. The ads scrolling on the screen in the game are:
Kojima Store/Central store open/Cult Shop
The sign on this screen labeled “106” is probably a reference to a store called 109 in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.
Jean Jack Gibson’s “PC 68 Genesis” is a direct reference to the NEC PC-8801, which was the first system Snatcher appeared on.
The translation was done by Jeremy Blaustien who later translated Metal Gear Solid