I don’t know if I could really explain why I felt compelled last year to play a PSP game. Our poor PSP was lost somewhere in the house, and even if I found it, did I really want to invest in games for a defunct device?
(P. S. We found the PSP several months back! Sadly, it’s power cord remains AWOL.)
But still, I had never played the PSP all that much, and after finding a good emulator of it, along with a relatively fun, turn-based title called Brave Story: New Traveler, I thought that it might be worth exploring what the handheld once offered. With help from the community, Metal Gear Acid (yes, I’ll stop with the “Ac!d” now) rose to the top. I tried out a couple levels before fully committing. It was only then that the idea of recording the game came into play, mainly because I couldn’t fathom at the time how I was going to write multiple posts about a strategy, turn-based card game.
So I had made my decision to turn my project with Metal Gear Acid into something that I hoped would be more exciting than monthly posts saying, “…then I picked this and Snake did that…and then I picked this card, and hoo boy, did it knock the enemy’s socks off!” Um…yeah. I think I made the right choice.
Metal Gear Acid – The Game
Metal Gear Acid was released in 2005, right in the middle of a period where it seemed like the name “Metal Gear” was an unstoppable force in games. Every week it seemed like a new Metal Gear game was belong developed or was released for one console or another. I don’t know that MGA flew under the radar, but based on my experience and what I learned of the game prior to playing, it seemed to be aimed at, if not die-hard players, then at least those folks who had a good bit of Metal Gear knowledge in tow.
I’ve also come to understand that Metal Gear stories are odd, to say the least. Full of cut scenes and exposition, Metal Gear games demand player’s attention in between all the stealthiness. MGA was no exception. There’s no way for me to easily sum up its story other than “Snake saves the world from nuclear annihilation,” and that doesn’t even scratch the surface. Truly, the game’s 10-15 minutes cut scenes were really something else, doling out massive amounts of information two lines at a times. Urgh. But the story was one big reason to keep playing, even if it did go into the stratosphere of pure fuckery at times.
So what of playing the game itself amid all the strangeness? More often than not, it was actually very compelling. Before MGA, the only other card-based game video game that I had played was Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and that experience was nothing short of a flop. (Just for me, the game was the game.) But MGA was different because every character used the same card system. With that, the gameplay felt balanced, and that’s despite the fact that the AI was prone to “pick” better card options for the enemies than I was for the main characters. I made plenty of mistakes…and yet…I still managed to progress at a good pace with only a couple death-ridden hiccups. Completing a mission felt like an accomplishment in more ways than one. Not only was there the “I finished!” feeling, there came with it a slight sense of mastery over the cards. One where I felt like I knew which cards were best for me as a player, and which ones weren’t. Granted, collecting cards is supposed to be part of the game as well. Though I collected card packs here and there, I didn’t go out of my way to seek them out. Neither did I necessarily save up all my points to get special cards. So the collecting aspect didn’t really come into play for me generally.
Beyond the cards, the game’s strategic nature is probably what hooked me the most. I don’t know why I don’t play more strategy games generally, because I really like taking time to plan out my moves in a game. MGA was all about planning. While I mostly ended up barreling my way through enemy lines, it’s obvious from the start that a stealthy approach is preferred. (I mean, we are talking about Solid Snake, all hail the Master of Stealth!) Stealth was what got you the rewards. I wasn’t stealthy, so I didn’t get many rewards, but I still had a helluva good time in most of the stages. Stealthy kills were super fun to see play out. But even the guns-blazing-to-hell-and-back moments had their unusual charm. (No matter what, I’m imbued with a “clear all enemies” sensibility in games.) And again, no matter how I got through a stage, each mission was satisfying in its own way. Defeating bosses felt especially fulfilling because the game still gave you moments to think, to strategize. There was no mad dash to find safety from an overpowered boss. No rampant feeling of doom that you couldn’t succeed. MGA believed in the player, and it felt good to have such a strong sense of agency while playing.
Metal Gear Acid – The Videos
I’ll admit it. I’ve harbored a little jealously towards all the Let’s Players and game streamers who are able to regularly produce content. There remains a small part of me that wishes I had the time, energy, and setup to do the same.
However, after completing MGA, that little part of me got a little smaller because, guys, that’s just not me.
You see, it’s not that I don’t enjoy making videos…I do. I really do. And I’ve been most pleased recently with the content I’ve been able to provide for Virtual Bastion, which *shameless plug* does include one Let’s Play (of Yoshi’s Woolly World). But, if this process taught me one thing, it’s that I have zero desire to become a “YouTuber.” Now, maybe I already am in one respect since all my MGA videos are hosted there, but the thought of producing additional content for my “channel” does not fuel my fire. Not in the slightest.
Apologies to my handful of thoughtful YouTube followers, but it’s the truth.
And the number one reason for that is time.
This past year was one where time wasn’t really on my side. Either I had it or I didn’t. Regular production of video content requires that one has fairly extensive swaths of time to not only record but then edit said content. For me, the big hang up was that I found I had time to either record or edit, but never enough time to do both. Hence, there were weeks were I had nothing to post. And because I’m idiotically loyal to my own projects, I hated that. Yes, part of me needs to get over myself in that regard, but once I start something on a schedule, I like to keep it on that schedule. I had thought I’d be able to do that for MGA, but real life intervened all too often.
I’m not complaining. The point is that I like my family and my friends and my job, and if I want to find time to play games, I have to make the time, but it can’t come at the expense of the other three things. That’s just how it is. I’m not in the business of being on YouTube every day; I can’t be. Maybe someday I will be, but I’m not today.
Still, I learned a ton from working on MGA, and I got to spend more time with my video editing software than I ever had before. I can’t say that video editing is my thing, but I did enjoy learning how to make decent cuts, title cards, minor animations, and such. If I ever try my hand at the Let’s Play thing again, I’m sure it’ll be easier to manage everything.
Despite my worries, setbacks, and general feeling that I’m “doing it wrong,” I’m pleased with what I accomplished the Metal Gear Acid. My ambitions may have been a little far out of reach at times, but I don’t hate the end results. The posts here have done moderately well, and the videos all have at least a couple views on YouTube. That may not seem like anything worth talking about, but considering that this is the only place I advertised this series, I’m surprised that anyone at all found their way to my channel in the wilds of YouTube.
While I’m not really prepared to plan out another game project in the Ac!d Commander manner, I’m not not saying that I won’t ever aim for such again. Never say never, right?