1. Fighting Psycho Mantis In Metal Gear Solid
Solid Snakes goes toe-to-toe with psychic mastermind Psycho Mantis, triggering one of the most innovative boss battles ever created and quite simply our number one greatest moment in gaming history.
Once the scrap begins, Mantis chucks furniture around the room, messes with your television, reads your memory card and even screws around with your control pad.
It’s a masterclass of design and innovation from Hideo Kojma. The moments when Mantis tries to force Meryl to commit suicide also add a degree of urgency and mayhem to the battle. In short, it’s absolutely groundbreaking.
So, we thought we’d skip telling you why it’s significant, step aside and let the Hideo Kojima himself explain how the scene came about. Take it away Hideo!
What the developer says
Hideo Kojima, director, Kojima Productions
“Psycho Mantis is a pyschic. And let’s face it, psychic characters have long been commonplace in movies, novels, and anime. Therefore, the challenge for me was to express psychic ability in a way that had never been done before.”
“I wanted to convey this power in a way that could not be realized in movies or novels. I wanted to create something that was unique to the gaming medium, in the form of a psychic boss character.”
“The first step that I took was to make Mantis a telepath. He has the ability to read minds. I expressed this ability by analyzing the player’s performance up to that point – what paths the player chose, how many times they were discovered, death flags and so on.”
“I see you like playing X-Factor: The Game. What are you, a loser?”
“Psycho Mantis then comments on their actions to give the impression that he was reaching into the player’s mind. Of course, when you think about it, it’s only natural for the CPU to know exactly what the player is doing or has done.”
“However, by personifying this omnipresence in the context of Mantis’ telepathic ability, I hoped to instill a certain level of fear in the player and make them doubt their ability to outwit this mysterious foe.”
“The next trick was to have Mantis comment on the player’s interests and personality traits by looking at saved data from other games. I especially wanted to dig up and point out embarrassing games that players would normally rather not admit to playing, for example, the dating sim Tokimeki Memorial.”
“Originally I wanted to comment on all the games available for the PlayStation at that time, including games from other companies. Unfortunately, though, negotiating with external companies would have consumed too much time, so I had to scale the concept back to Konami titles only.”
“The interesting part about this, though, is that Mantis would sometimes comment on games that the players themselves may have forgotten about.”
“Having Psycho Mantis confront the player with their own hidden memories jolted the player and further added to Psycho Mantis’ mystique.”
Although Kojima has never admitted this, the unmasking of Psycho Mantis bears a striking similarity to the end of Return of the Jedi. Kojima IS a film buff after all.
“Next comes psychokinesis. While Mantis is levitating in mid-air, I used one of my favorite films, Brian De Palma’s “The Fury,” as inspiration for Mantis’ pose.”
“By having the player set the controller on the floor, and making Mantis move it, I wanted to break out of the game world and have Mantis interact with the player’s environment beyond the confines of the TV monitor.”
“Of course, we were using the vibration function to move the controller, but to a casual observer it creates the illusion that Mantis is using the power of his mind to move the controller from the other side of the game screen.”
“By now I want the player to be thinking “How on Earth can I possibly compete with this guy?!” Having experienced these mind games, the player is lead to conclude that ‘all my moves are being predicted, and there’s no way I can inflict any damage.’ This is where the true battle of wits begins.”
Sorry for like, shooting you and all that. No hard feelings, eh Mantis?
“By this point, we’ve demonstrated that Mantis can somehow predict the player’s movements and read their mind. That being the case, the player must find a way to block his ability. Brainstorming for a way to keep him from reading your actions is the key to winning.”
“Though this is an action game, the player is now forced to use their mind rather than force. This is what I wanted to accomplish. The solution is to physically switch the controller to Controller Port two.”
“This shows the player that the game is not limited to the confines of the screen, but extends to include the living room that contains the screen and the game system itself. This is also why Meryl’s codec frequency is written on the back of the game’s box.”