Why Can’t We Have a New ‘Snatcher’ Is Today’s Open Thread

I can’t be alone in wondering: WTF, Konami? And what other wrongly forgotten games need a comeback?

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May 5 2017, 2:10pm

I like to listen to podcasts on my commute, as I'm sure many of you do, and one of my preferred gaming ones is Cane and Rinse. We actually featured it on VICE a while back, for those keen to know more—but in short, it's a show where one game per episode is afforded a particularly deep dive, often stretching to two hours of multi-perspective analysis.

Recently, I've been exploring the show's archives, downloading episodes on Binary Domain, Catherine, Speedball 2, Sensible Soccer, Chrono Trigger and more. And just the other day, scrolling down, one of my old-time favorites popped up: Konami's cyberpunk point-and-clicker (kinda), Snatcher.

Snatcher, case you missed it—easily done, as its sole official English-language release was 1994's (expanded and remastered) Mega/Sega-CD version—was, is, a graphic adventure co-directed by Hideo Kojima, which first came out in Japan in 1988. Originally a game of two acts, a third, with a more satisfying conclusion, was added in time for the Sega version.

The player is the "Junker" Gillian Seed, who, in a story with less-than-subtle echoes of Blade Runner, must uncover who in the city of Neo Kobe is actually a "Snatcher"—a biomechanical life form that, once its skin is removed, looks a lot like a Terminator. These robotic beings have been taking the place of key individuals in the city's society, and this is a Bad Thing. I love it—or, I guess, I loved it, when I played through it twice as a teenager, on a borrowed copy of the game.

The Cane and Rinse episode on the game repeated a sentiment I expressed on VICE Gaming, in the days before Waypoint, back in January 2015—that this game needs a reissue, a remaster, a remake, anything to get it back into player hands in a form that's easily acquired, outside of naughty-naughty emulation.

Over 20 years on from its one and only English release, Snatcher remains locked to a dead format, unplayable by the masses, available only to those with the original Sega hardware and a spare £200-plus for a copy from eBay. (How I wish I'd taken up the offer, back when I borrowed the game, of buying it outright for £30.) The most-recent Japanese release of the game was 1996, for PlayStation and Saturn, so even in its homeland, the game's strangely absent from any contemporary platforms.

Given the profile of Kojima today—and the cult acclaim that Snatcher enjoys amongst advocates of such adventure games—it baffles me that we haven't seen a version of it on newer systems. With its sort of split-screen presentation, big and bright pictures above and interactive commands below, a port/update on the (3)DS would have been incredible. And now I'm thinking about how great it'd be, played vertically on a handheld Switch. But, still, nothing.

I mean, Snatcher still looks great, in its Mega-CD guise. And the voice acting's not awful, either! The game's funny, and scary, and gory, and so weird—when it breaks the fourth wall, man, that was love, immediately. A straight port would do the job, Konami—so, what's keeping you?

So my question to you, to discuss, is this: What old games do you really, ridiculously, desperately want to see given new life on modern consoles? Games that have been unfairly and bizarrely left in the past when they have an obvious appeal in the here and now. Games like Snatcher that, come on now, really, really needs a chance to impress audiences who weren't even a glint in their parents' eyes when it last came out.

Discuss over on our new forum!