Let's travel all the way back to the early days of the PlayStation 2. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Hideo Kojima was a titan in the gaming industry already. He'd already released multiple Metal Gear games and spearheaded development on one of the most iconic games ever in Metal Gear Solid. Thus, the sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, had a lot to live up to, and for the most part, the development had gone well ahead. However, a catastrophic real-world event would throw a monkey wrench into Konami's plans and put Kojima's career at Konami on the brink.
Kojima got candid about the time he almost quit his post at Konami at the turn of the century in an interview with Weekly Tokyo Keizai.
As spotted by @MGSMGN on Twitter, the September 11 terrorist attacks shocked the entire world and almost took down an all-time career with it.
As the world grappled with the aftermath of the attacks, the team behind Metal Gear Solid 2 was in a precarious position due to its uncomfortably prescient themes and scenes, one of which depicted a massive military fortress, Arsenal Gear, heading full speed into New York and crashing into Manhattan.
Kojima recalled the experience, saying that the horrifying incident had made Metal Gear Solid 2 "unfit for release at the time."
This resulted in a whirlwind of crisis meetings with senior management at Konami, Sony, and legal advisors. The collective verdict was clear: Kojima and the rest of the studio had to revisit some 300 spots from MGS2 to make it suitable for launch.
An anxious Kojima couldn't help but worry as he described the game's plot to Konami's board of directors. Unsurprisingly, the universal reaction was one of apprehension. Kojima, crushed by the weight of the situation, considered doing the unthinkable: "take responsibility and resign from the company."
Had this happened, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty would've never seen the light of the day and the next decade's set of Metal Gear entries would've never been made.
Who knows? Kojima might have even left the gaming industry complete right there and then, which means we wouldn't have seen Death Stranding, among others.
Thankfully, Kojima stayed. Ken Kutaragi, then Sony Computer Entertainment president, stepped in and told Kojima: "This is not a matter you should be ashamed of. You should go ahead and release the game." The founder of Konami, Kagemasa Kozuki, echoed the sentiment, reaching out to Kojima in an email that read: "I have made up my mind. The game should be released. What are your thoughts?"
These words of encouragement gave Kojima the resolve to carry on, although the last-minute changes still resulted in a lengthy delay. The MGS2 team worked feverishly to implement the changes to the game, which eventually saw daylight on November 13, 2001.
Metal Gear Solid 2's legacy is one marked by eerie prescience. The game's digital battlefield is no longer science fiction. Years later, we find ourselves with the same social questions Kojima posed back in 2001.
Despite the tragic events coinciding with its release, MGS2 has stood the test of time as a poignant, groundbreaking work of the video game industry.
Now far removed from his chaotic time with Konami and working on Metal Gear Solid, Kojima has been more vocal as well as introspective about his life's work. He shares his personal journey, offering an important lens into the blurred lines between digital narratives and real-world events as well as everything that went on behind the scenes.
Kojima is currently the head of his company, Kojima Productions, which is working with Xbox on a unique title as well as Sony on Death Stranding 2. On the other hand, Konami is braving the waters by remaking Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. But, the most recent revelations regarding Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, have drawn mixed reactions from fans, especially the part about Konami simply re-using the original voice lines.