Konami and video game auteur Hideo Kojima went through gaming’s worst and most public breakup in 2015. Kojima cleared out of the building while Konami kept insisting everything was just fine, claiming he was on holiday and that they’d never been happier together. They’re either delusional, hypnotists, or Hideo’s been designing all these incredible stealth games based on personal skills and has somehow managed to completely leave a multinational corporation without them noticing.
Kojima is still riding high on the success of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and now that his non-compete clause expired in December, he’s back with a brand new Kojima Productions, this time in conjunction with Sony Computer Entertainment, although his new studio will retain the status of an independent studio. His next game will be a PlayStation 4 exclusive.
For the past few weeks, Kojima has been teasing visits to different studios, including J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Quantic Dream, as he searches for the latest technology for his next game. The question is, what is that next game?
We have some suggestions:
A Stealthy Cold War
Kojima has done more for video game stealth than the inventors of the analog stick and the action button combined. We don’t think he could stop refining the genre if he was shot with tranquilizer darts, Fulton extracted, and woke up on Mother Base. He’d just start sneaking around the base stealing Battle Gear parts for software development. And elite Boss-trained troops might just have the endurance needed for AAA game release timetables.
A new stealth-action game would be a logical next step for Kojima, the master of the genre. Not to mention that it would kick it to his former publisher, who does have plans for another stealth game. Konami is already talking about moving on with another Metal Gear Solid, after taking Hideo Kojima’s name off the franchise. And Kojima clearly knew that would happen, preparing Ground Zeroes with a prescient bonus mission where you do the exact same thing in-game.
Sure, Konami owns every possible legal right to Metal Gear, but a battle between superpowers pouring money into competing developments is how we got awesome things like Metal Gear in the first place. And is also almost the entire plot of most of the Metal Gear games. The other bit of plot? A single designer being extracted to work for the other side. That’s exactly what’s happening with Kojima. Famous for giving us Snake, but all this time he’s an Emmerich: bullied by big companies, but building something beyond himself which can (sometimes literally) stand up against them all.
Kojima’s love of lavishly developed feature-rich worlds that immerse and entertain the player clashes with the modern design principle of “stick some sprites on a smartphone and take ten million dollars.” Konami has already made noise about retreating from AAA development altogether, despite making more money from Metal Gear than the Philosophers and Patriots combined.
But there may be a happy medium. Kojima’s greatest effects on gaming aren’t his convoluted design choices, but the flourishes he adds to game design. Everyone who’s played a Metal Gear has been astonished by some tricky touch. The first time they get themselves delivered across the level. Petting their dog. Telling their horse to shit itself. Giving Kojima a few smartphone studios would mean he could spin off spare unique ideas into cash-cow swipe-a-thons, utterly unique little arcade style games, each expanding an alternative moment into an entire game.
He’s already experimented in this direction with SD Snatcher, the super-deformed and cutesified version of his cyberpunk crime thriller:
Reworking Snatcher‘s original idea through an entirely different aesthetic was inventive, fun, and a great way to get another game out of the basic idea without just sticking a “2” on the end. And now simple 2D games are much less than a major release. Scattering a constellation of cute little games—each explorations of aspects of the next big release—could generate hype to sell the next big game while raising the money develop it. He could even encode world-building secret plot details into each sub-game. And you know he’d love that.
We’re not even remotely joking.
Kojima lavishes his virtual pets with an attention to detail that would take any human relationship to the gold wedding anniversary. And you risk spending just as much time on them. D-Dog and D-Horse are some of the worst-named but best-developed animals in video game history, and that includes every game ever made specifically and only about pets. Especially those, because they tend to suck. Kojima’s even got cute animal game experience from designing Penguin Adventure. Which, in classic Kojima style, even had multiple and secret endings.
If he brought his combination of gameplay, atmosphere, minor item development, and multi-purpose equipment to a pet simulator, it would be the best the genre ever saw. And when it turned out that your Cute Little Pony Barn was actually a cover story for a multi-national genetic engineering project, well, that would only make it better.
You think this is our silliest joke, but Kojima has already made these. He was variously planner, producer, executive and/or drama director for three volumes of the Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series on the Sega Saturn. His PlayStation Policenauts even pulled off the Psycho Mantis trick of displaying special messages if it found a Tokimeki save file on your memory card, back in 1996.
A Kojima dating sim could help shape the future of the industry. It’ll either force him to learn how actual human women dress and act, or it’ll be the most demented dating simulation ever made. The romantic world of Hideo’s women would make Hatoful Boyfriend, where you date birds, look normal and well-adjusted.
Konami’s cancellation of Kojima’s Silent Hills wasn’t just a break-up letter to gamers, it was throwing the gamers’ console out of a second-storey window so that it shattered on the smoldering ashes of all the gamers’ clothes. Then going through the PSN to delete their favorite games. Which is something they actually did by erasing P.T., the interactive teaser for the cancelled Silent Hills project.
P.T. was a masterwork of atmosphere and the greatest viral horror gaming success outside of the Resident Evil franchise. It was a wonderful sign of what could have been.
But Kojima doesn’t need Silent Hill to make horror! He can make his own. We suggest “Ominous Mountain,” making it clear to players exactly what he’s doing AND letting him keep his FOXHOUND naming convention. In fact, he should embrace that full combination. Make a game about investigating an abandoned facility under a mountain, a genetic research base attempting to build super-soldiers based on horror archetypes. Playing with horror tropes means he could even put in overtly and creepily sexualized women without it being quite as weird. Those are all his favorite things! And now he can put in vampires and ghosts without sounding silly…
He’ll even get to generate a whole new expanded mythos. You know he’s got enough story for a whole new game in him. He’s been trying to wedge three entire games’ worth of story into every single game he’s made so far.
Either way, we’re just looking forward to what he’ll make next.