Last night Hideo Kojima, seemingly in a reflective mood on his prolific Twitter account, told a couple of gorgeous mini-tales of the lengths he went to in order to help sell his earliest games like Metal Gear. These included handing out flyers, and cranking up in-store demo volumes.
The idea of Kojima’s having to do anything at all to shift copies of a Metal Gear game seem so incredibly improbable in 2021 (he even seems to sell games he’s not working on), that it was a complete revelation to see the series’ director explain his hands-on approach at his local store.
“In the summer of my 23rd year,” Kojima began, talking about 1988, “my first game [Metal Gear] was released. Since it was not a NES, there were no TV ads, and it was not sold in the toy section, which was very crowded at the time; since it was MSX, it was quietly placed in the PC software section of an electronics shop.”
The MSX and MSX2 were home computers produced by Sony, primarily bought in Japan, running a version of Microsoft’s DOS. Metal Gear was released on MSX in July 1988, five months before its Famicom port. And as such, received less attention in Japanese stores. Kojima’s first micro-story concludes,
“Even so, I went to the store every day, got flyers, and handed them out to people around me. I also bought three copies of the software myself.”
I love the low-scale chart inflation attempt of picking up three whole copies of his own game. But even more, the passion on display when pushing a game he’d created at just one local store, in the best way he could.
Extraordinarily, his follow-up tale taking place over a year later reads almost identically.
“In the winter of my 25th year,” Kojima begins, “my second game (ADV) was released. Since it was not a NES, there were no TV ads, and it was not sold in the busy toy stores and department stores of the time.”
“ADV” can only refer to Snatcher, Kojima’s 1988 science fiction adventure game, which also came out for MSX2, but also the PC-8801, Nippon’s Japanese home PCs. The memory concludes,
“[I]t was quietly placed in the PC software section of an electronics shop since it was PC-88 and MSX. Even so, I peeked at the sales floor every day and turned up the volume a little on the PC monitor that was playing a demo in the store.”
It’s such a joy to imagine the mid-20s Kojima sneaking up the volume on his game, trying to get more people to notice it as they strolled through the desolate stretches of the gaming store.
It also makes for quite the contrast, when you imagine the lines that would form outside the same stores were Kojima to release a new game today.