Following Metal Gear Solid's success on the PlayStation, creator and director Hideo Kojima decided to try something slightly different - to make a portable Metal Gear game. His chosen console was the one that was the most popular at the time - Nintendo's Game Boy Color. The game was also the first game in the Metal Gear series to enable two people to play against each other using a link cable.
In America and Europe it was known simply as "Metal Gear Solid" so that people would instantly recognise it and associate it with the best-selling PlayStation game but this was a rather confusing title so many referred to it by its Japanese name, Ghost Babel (and so will I from now on).
Here the the boxes for the European, American and Japanese games respectively:
In many ways this has a very similar plotline to MGS and some of the characters could almost have walked out of MGS, changed their names, and walked back into this game!
You play Solid Snake and the year is 2002. Snake, retired from FOX-HOUND, has been dragged out of retirement by Colonel Campbell and has to once again put a stop to a potential nuclear threat from terrorists using a giant robot called Metal Gear Gander.
The aim of the game, as with all MG games, is to successfully use stealth to achieve your mission aims rather than go in with guns blazing, as you might do in other war games.
Snake has a range of skills, weapons and items which he must use to stay alive and stay hidden. As with the PlayStation game, there are a few levels of VR Training to practise the tactics you will need to employ in the main game.
Despite its confusing worldwide title of "Metal Gear Solid" it is not the same game at all, yet very satisfying to play. There isn't too much scope in creating a Game Boy game, yet Kojima has once again proved that he can maximise a console's potential. It's quite a rare find now, but I really recommend tracking down a copy of this game (and a Game Boy Color/Advanced if necessary) so that you can enjoy another great mission as Solid Snake!
Watch Stage 2 be played in under four minutes, and see for yourself how the game plays:
Ghost Babel takes after its PlayStation cousin in having a few levels of VR Training to help you get to grips with some essential skills in stealth and weapon use. There are 180 levels to play through in total (more than MGS but fewer than in Special Missions).
There are three modes to work through: Sneaking, Weapon and Advanced. Some levels you might recognise from the PS games but others are completely new. Some of the levels are even recognisable pictures from a birds-eye view which shows that Konami have been having a bit of fun in creating these levels!
In Advanced Mode, the mission is not aborted if you are spotted and in both Weapon and Advanced Modes you get to use all your different weapons (except the Stun and Chaff Grenades) on their respective stages. Practise hitting harmless targets and both unarmed and armed guards for 180 levels and then, upon completion, you earn yourself access to the "Sound Mode" where you can hear all the music and sound effects from the game!
Listed below are all the characters you'll meet as you play through Ghost Babel!
SOLID SNAKE: [Age: 30s; Nationality: American; Height: 182cm] The man with a mission! You play as Solid Snake, known as "The Legend", who has been dragged out of retirement to once again take on some terrorists and the threat of nuclear war from the mighty robot Metal Gear. Armed with little more than his wits and training and a handful of helpful voices at the end of his Codec, Snake must try to stop the threat of war by causing as little disturbance as possible - no mean feat!
SERGEANT CHRIS JENNER: [Age: 20s; Nationality: American; Height: 176cm] Snake's female ally, and the equivalent of Meryl from the PS game. Like Meryl, she chose to become a soldier of her own free will, helps Snake in this mission via Codec and in person, uses enemy uniform to get around, gets captured by the terrorists, falls in love with Solid Snake, and, to top it off, has red hair. She is a member of Delta Force and has a very outgoing personality.
COLONEL ROY CAMPBELL: [Age: 60s; Nationality: American; Height: 185cm] Retired from FOX-HOUND two years back, but came out of retirement to help Snake via Codec again. He's the person who will contact you the most and provide you with the most useful information. He has "a score to settle with the past" regarding terrorist group Black Chamber and will always provide you with necessary information like where to go next, what you should be doing, and how to succeed in doing it.
MEI LING: [Age: Teens; Nationality: Chinese; Height: 160cm] Exactly the same person with the same role as in the the PS game. Mei Ling designed your Codec and Radar and you must call her when you want to save your progress. She's always quoting from famous people throughout history but has very little to say for herself. Mei Ling is obsessed with Snake's safety and desperately wants his home in one piece!
WEASEL: [Age: 30s; Nationality: Dutch; Height: 180cm] His real name is Rheaunalt (Ronald) Lensenbrink but everyone calls him Weasel because apparently he's as trustworthy as one. He was considered to be the one sent to Galuade to sort out the terrorists but everyone had more faith in "The Legend" Solid Snake and so sent him instead. Weasel is an expert in weaponary so if you want infomation about any of your weapons (or your items, for that matter), you know who to call. He can also provide you with definitions of military terms and practical advice about survival skills.
BRIAN McBRIDE: [Age: 30s; Nationality: American; Height: 181cm] In some ways this character is like Master Miller from the PS game. If you call him on 141.52, he will provide you with quite a lot of useless information (like where to go shopping and what language you should be speaking) but that makes him worth having in the game! Like Master Miller, you should trust him as far as you can throw him. Mind you, that's a good principle to employ with most of the characters in any Metal Gear game!
JIMMY THE WIZARD: [Age: 18; Nationality: American; Height: 171cm] His real name is James Harks and is very much like Otacon. It can be said with some certainty that he is no solider! His is responsible for desinging and creating Metal Gear and can provide you with information about it. He was captured by the terrorists so that they could use him to get all the information they needed to start a nuclear launch. Now Snake must rescue Jimmy to learn from him how to stop them before it's too late!
SOPHIE N'DRAM: Sophie is the daughter of the "General". You fight Sophie in a helicopter and then meet her again later in the game. Like the Ninja in the PS game, she is neither friend nor foe but doesn't really help you out in any way. Little else is known about her.
THE "GENERAL": [Age: 40s; Nationality: Gindran; Height: 183cm] Augustine Eguabon, normally referred to simply as the "General" is not a protagonist but not a member of Black Chamber. He says that he used Black Chamber (but Black Arts Viper declares the opposite). He has huge hopes and dreams and wants no one to get in his way! He's demanding independence and gives the President just three hours after Snake's just destroyed the power plant. He's Sophie's father but whether he really cares about her is anyone's guess.
BLACK ARTS VIPER: [Age: 30s; Nationality: American; Height: 189cm] Viper is the leader of the terrorist group, Black Chamber. He shows no mercy, liking or sympathy for Solid Snake at all, or any of his allies, and cares only about what he wants. He commands the guards and captures both Chris and Jimmy. You meet Viper three times in the game. First time he's flying a helicopter, then there's a boss battle where you have to avoid his wire traps, and finally you have one and a half minutes to take on Viper before he can reach the surface and launch a nuke from Metal Gear.
SLASHER HAWK: [Age: 40s; Nationality: Australian; Height: 213cm] By far the tallest member of Black Chamber, Slasher Hawk has had a tragic past which he shares with Snake after their fight. He's the first boss in the game and his chosen method of combat is with his boomerang which he continually throws at you. He always has a hawk with him, hence his name.
MARIONETTE OWL: [Age: 20s; Nationality: Unknown; Height: 175cm] This guy doesn't need night-vision goggles! He can see perfectly in a pitch-black room and even wears sunglasses! His incredible ability to see in the dark has earned him the codename Owl, and you will fight him second in the game. He always has his puppets, Osan and Kohal, with him (hence the name Marionette) and he, like Hawk, has a tragic past. In battle, he certainly has the upper hand.
PYRO BISON: [Age: 40s; Nationality: American; Height: 180cm] A huge, beefy bloke who carries a massive flamethrower around with him everywhere. Very little else to say about this guy except that you'll only meet and fight him once in the game and in that battle you must avoid the fire from his flamethrower or you're toast!
Here is an exhaustive list of all the weapons and items to be found in Ghost Babel.
Five-seveN: A handgun. Press B to fire. Suppressor accepted. The Five-seveN is probably the first gun you'll lay hands on as it's available in the first stage. Noisy if you don't have the suppressor, but if you do, very useful! The equivalent of the PS's SOCOM.
R5: An assault rifle. Press B for one shot and hold down for rapid-fire. Equivalent to the FA-MAS. The R5 is good for taking out a whole group of guards that have swarmed in on you!
Grenade: A hand grenade that inflicts damage. Press B to throw one. It explodes the moment it hits something. Great for taking out large groups or things that a gun is no use for. You need Grenades when fighting Hawk and you can also use them against the helicopter and Metal Gear Gander.
Stun Grenade: The "flash grenade". Press B to throw one. It'll temporarily stun the enemy so that you have time to get away or fight back.
Chaff Grenade: EM interferer. Press B to throw one. By throwing a Chaff Grenade, you can temporarily disable and blind equipment such as surveillance and gun cameras - however your Radar and Nikita won't work whilst Chaff is active.
Landmine: The equivalent of the PS's Claymores. They are set by pressing B (don't then walk over them!) and are useful for taking out guards as they walk past. Also useful for planting under where Metal Gear will tread. When you've equipped the Mine Detector, mines will show up on your Radar. Crawl over them to retrieve them.
C4: Plastic explosives. Press B to set one somewhere and then A to detonate when you're at a safe distance. You need C4s to destroy the power plant and they can also be used for taking out Metal Gear's legs.
Nikita: A remote controlled rocket launcher. The Nikita is a very precise weapon which causes high damage. Press B to fire a rocket then use the d-pad to move it. Whilst using the Nikita, Snake cannot move. Use the Nikita to destroy Metal Gear and also to destroy generators for electric floors.
Ration: Rations are necessary for restoring your LIFE bar. Either you have your Rations equipped so that when your LIFE reaches 0, you'll automatically eat one, or when your health is anything less than 100%, you can go into the Item Menu and press B on the Rations to eat one.
ID Card Lv 1-6: There are six cards to be picked up throughout the game. The card you possess will open doors of that level or below. If a door won't open for you, it's usually because your card is not high enough in value. You must have the card equipped for it to work.
Fogger: Cigarettes basically. Use the Fogger to see infrared beams. Alternatively you can use the Thermal Goggles.
Body Armour: Provides some protection against bullets and attacks against you.
Suppressor: For use with the Five-seveN. It silences the pistol's shots so that you do not alert any nearby guards when you fire it.
Thermal Goggles: Use these to see infrared beams in the dark. When equipped, heat sources such as people and cameras will appear in bright red. You must use Thermal Goggles if you are in a dark room with infrared beams.
Night Vision Goggles: These are useful in dark rooms as they allow you to see normally. They are extremely useful when fighting Marionette Owl as he likes to be in the pitch-black.
Mine Detector: When equipped, this will allow you to see on your Radar where Landmines have been set. If you are playing without a Radar the Mine Detector is useless.
Gas Mask: The Gas Mask will slow down the drop-rate of your O2 guage when you are in toxic gas. It will not cut it out completely, but it is a great help when getting through gas-filled rooms.
Cardboard Boxes: The Cardboard Boxes, available in yellow, red and blue, will come in very useful at one point in the game. Although they're not on every agent's most-wanted list, the Cardboard Boxes are useful for getting past cameras and for getting around on the conveyor belts to secret areas of the base where only luggage is supposed to travel!
Radar: You can choose whether you want to play with the Radar on during the game, without the map, or nothing at all. This can be selected in the Option Menu. The Radar is pretty small, but nevertheless useful! The bright white dot in the centre is you. The red dots are guards or surveillance/gun cameras. Yellow dots are Landmines if you have the Mine Detector equipped.
Codec: The Codec is your way of contacting your allies. It is like a phone or walkie-talkie except that it is built into your inner ear. You can contact five throughout the game: Coloneol Campbell on 140.85 who will give you advice on what you should be doing; Mei Ling on 140.96 to let you save your game and to tell you loads of quotations throughout history as well as explaining your Radar and Codec to you; Weasel on 141.80 who will tel you all you need (and more) about all your weapons and items; McBride on 141.52 with info on Gindra and generally useless information; and finally Chris Jenner on 140.25 who knows the base well and can help you out!
HINTS AND BONUSES
Here are six extra things to make the most of your gaming experience with Ghost Babel:
1) SOUND MODE: To access "Sound Mode" where you can listen to ALL the music and sound effects from the game, you must complete all 180 levels of VR Training. When you've done this, Sound Mode will be available in the Option Menu.
2) SPECIAL STAGE SELECT: You're probably familiar with Stage Select where you can pick any level you've already completed to play again on its own, but Special Stage Select is only available after completion of the game (story mode). Here, each of the stages will have three new objectives such as completing a level whilst only using certain weapons in your inventory; using a maximum number of steps; completing the stage within a set amount of time; and finding FOX-HOUND emblems and mystery people! To access Special Stage Select, complete story mode and go into Stage Select then choose Special rather than normal.
3) IN-GAME ENTERTAINMENT: Complete the story mode then start a new game. Call the frequency 140.07 on your Codec on every stage to hear some in-game entertainment about 2.5, 714 and Call who do some of the stragest things...
4) FAST FOOD: If you're very short on Life but don't want to have your Rations permanently selected, go into the Item list until you reach Rations and then press B to eat one. If you do have Rations equipped, one will automatically be consumed when your Life runs out.
5) THE FIVE-SEVEN SUPRESSOR: It is advisable that you pick up the Supressor for the Five-seveN since it will help you avoid detection later in the game. You can find the Supressor in Mission Two. Once you see the guard coming out of the fortress from the right, follow him to the door, and when you enter you'll find a sleeping guard and a box. This is the Supressor. If you're playing on a harder level you may have to crawl to avoid awaking the guard when you go to pick it up.
6) PLOT SECRETS: Once you've completed the Special Stage Select (see above), you can listen to a message from No. 4. You'll find out some plot holes and a hint about MGS2.
There is no soundtrack for Ghost Babel but you can listen to all the music in the Sound Mode. Here are three tracks to sample from a fan-made soundtrack.
Hear the rest of the soundtrack on BBM's SkyDrive by clicking here!