Forget Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Acid (reviewed here) has surely been the most divisive of Konami's recent forays into the world of Solid Snake. Loved and reviled almost in equal measure, it was nothing if not fascinating, strapping card game rules to a traditional Metal Gear scenario - with player and computer actions determined by the type of cards available at any given time. Speaking to Eurogamer at E3, director Shinta Nojiri (who, along with his Kojima Productions cohorts, can lay claim to the best business cards of the show, trivia fans) spoke about the game's development, its strengths, weaknesses, and of course the sequel, which had just been announced as we went into the interview. And we couldn't resist asking which of the new console systems at the show most impressed him, although his answer might surprise you. Read on.
Eurogamer: Why did you choose the card battling system?
Shinta Nojiri: We wanted to release a game at the same time as Metal Gear Solid 3, and we wanted to take a different approach - our boss Hideo Kojima encouraged us to take a different approach - so we came up with the card game system.
Eurogamer: It's been said that Acid's storyline has a darker theme than MGS might perhaps be used to. Was that deliberate?
Shinta Nojiri: The Acid game script was written by someone other than Kojima, so the script might be a little different. Kojima said do whatever you want to do for the storyline, so our writers did whatever they wanted to do, so yes, the two dolls, the atmosphere, it was deliberate.
Eurogamer: Do you think the game is a little too complicated?
Shinta Nojiri: Yes I believe that at first it might be a little too complicated and we have to apologise that the tutorial was maybe not enough, but once you get the knack of the system I think you have a lot of freedom within the system and I think it's very enjoyable.
Eurogamer: Were you surprised by the critical reaction? Some of the scores, particularly the early ones, were quite low?
Shinta Nojiri: It was what we predicted. I thought it might get a very high score or a very low score, so it was what we predicted.
Eurogamer: What does the name Acid represent?
Shinta Nojiri: I liked the sound of it! [Laughs] The original game was Solid, right, and Acid dissolves Solid, so we thought that suggested a different game.
Eurogamer: What are you saying about the sequel at this point?
Shinta Nojiri: There's going to be a lot of modifications. Kojima Productions always likes to surprise its fans, so we'll take a very different approach to the graphics and other aspects of the game.
Eurogamer: Will you consider working on the Nintendo DS system?
Shinta Nojiri: We don't have any plans right now for the DS system.
Eurogamer: Fair enough. Who do you think will win the handheld war?
Shinta Nojiri: [Laughs] Personally I like both platforms. Both have their ups and downs. Right now we just want to make a good game for the PSP platform. Obviously the PSP has an advantage of the DS graphically, which was something that helped us decide.
Eurogamer: Given what you've said, that Acid was different because it was launching at the same time as Metal Gear Solid 3, is it likely that a future PSP game will take on the same characteristics as a Solid title?
Shinta Nojiri: We've thought about making it very close to the MGS series, but as it's Acid and not Solid we'd like to try and take the different approach, at least for a while.
Eurogamer: So you're definitely sticking with it for the sequel?
Shinta Nojiri: Yes we are.
Eurogamer: What is the biggest challenge developing for PSP?
Shinta Nojiri: Basically the PSP was also in development as we made the game, so as the PSP got better we had to make our own game better too, which complicated things.
Eurogamer: Do you think you took full advantage of the hardware?
Shinta Nojiri: I think we pretty much mapped out its features and did a good job, yes.
Eurogamer: Which element of Acid gives you the most pride?
Shinta Nojiri: The game system is what I'm most proud of. When you play the game I think you feel the same concept as the original Solid series, despite the difference.
Eurogamer: Was there anything about Acid you were unhappy about?
Shinta Nojiri: I would say the camera perspective is one thing I would like to fix, and the tutorial could be better. We'll make that better on Acid 2.
Eurogamer: Will you have cut-scenes in Acid 2, rather than the static images with text overlaid that you used in the first game?
Shinta Nojiri: We're thinking about that right now. [Smiles]
Eurogamer: The multiplayer element. Is it something you're going to expand for the sequel, or are you happy with it?
Shinta Nojiri: I think we'll take a different approach with the multiplayer. Not necessarily making it bigger, but we'll take a different approach.
Eurogamer: Obviously you're working on handhelds, but you must have seen the next generation systems that have been announced. What has impressed you most?
Shinta Nojiri: They're very shocking. I would love to work on those platforms, but for now I'll work on this platform. Personally I want a Game Boy Micro!
Metal Gear Acid is likely to launch alongside the PlayStation Portable in Europe on September 1st, and is already available on import from the USA and Japan.