4. The “Sacco and Vanzetti” Ending Problem (Addressed)
In “Part 4: Happy Endings”, I spent several minutes going over each character’s ending in MGS4, and how everyone (except Mei Ling) got, if not a happy ending, at least a happy closure (like Naomi Hunter.)
But there’s a big, gaping hole in my argument that I failed to address in my video. So I’ll do it here.
In Kojima’s original idea for the ending for MGS4, Snake and Otacon was going to be executed.
“One of my ideas [for MGS4’s ending] was that, since Snake and Otacon are breaking the law in order to fulfill their justice, I was thinking of having them turn themselves in, and for the sake of justice, they’d get convicted and executed by the law. But all of my staff went against the idea, so I decided not to go with that.”
Some people have tried to use this fact to argue how, like Metal Gear Rising (00:44), MGS4 doesn’t fit Kojima’s interpretation of the Metal Gear Saga either. Therefore, if MGRising is non-canon, MGS4 isn’t canon either.
This argument is completely absurd, for several reasons;
1.) When developing a story, changes are made all the time. Just read up on the MGS2 Grand Game Plan to see how different MGS2 was going to be. Sniper Wolf was going to be a dude. Otacon was going to be a fat guy wearing a baseball cap. Hell, the Cyborg Ninja wasn’t even part of the script until Shinkawa came up with the idea! (01:44) It’s called “the creative process.” This isn’t anything new or unique to MGS4.
2.) While it’s true that Kojima originally wanted the “Snake and Otacon gets executed” ending, he still wrote the “Snake and Otacon lives” ending, so it still conformed to his interpretation of the Metal Gear Saga. This is a completely different situation from Metal Gear Rising, where Kojima had zero involvement with its story whatsoever.
“Persistently I’m entitled as the producer in RISING. I do plan and give ideas to the promotions but I am not involved with game design itself such as naming of each character or the game universe. No involvement in it’s script or motion capture direction. Thus RISING is brand new METAL GEAR w/o my creativity.”
3.) Calling the new ending the “Snake and Otacon lives” ending is a bit of a misnomer; Snake does die in MGS4. It was just offscreen. Either way, Kojima wanted to ensure that MGS4 was Solid Snake’s last hurrah.
“As long as there’s a game called MGS5 and it’s a game where you sneak around, it doesn’t have to be Solid Snake, right? I’d like that to be created by the younger developers. To put it another way, Solid Snake is one character that I don’t want to entrust to other people.”
4.) While MGS4’s ending was different from what Kojima originally wanted, he never, ever called MGS4 a “parallel story” because of these differences, unlike Metal Gear Rising (00:44).
Still, though, it does kinda pour cold water on my argument that “ultimately, Kojima is actually an optimist.”
Or does it?
Take the alternate ending of MGS1, for instance. Here, we see Snake as a failure. He lost. He didn’t save the girl.
But out of nowhere, Otacon gives Snake a pep talk.
Otacon: Snake… people die. But death is not defeat. That’s what Hemingway said. I lost Wolf too. But that wasn’t defeat. She and I will be together forever. We didn’t lose anything. It’s true that Wolf is dead, but our love didn’t die with her. Life’s more than just a game of win or lose. Don’t you think?
This lifts up Snake’s spirits, and encourages him not to give up on himself. Even in the “Bad Ending”, MGS1 still ended on an optimistic note. In fact, I would argue that Kojima’s optimism was stronger in this so-called “Bad Ending”, because it shows us Snake rising from his lowest point.
Otacon’s “death is not defeat” philosophy can be easily applied to the original ending of MGS4.
So yes, even given the bleak circumstances, I do believe that the original ending of MGS4 was going to contain Kojima’s trademark optimism; even though Snake and Otacon die, the memories of their lives, and their actions, will live on, through Sunny, Raiden, and Meryl. Their agony, is their triumph.
This is actually similar to how the final game ended; after the credits, Otacon promises Snake that he will bear witness to his final days, and pass down his story (07:36).
This is just speculation, of course. We’ll probably never know the exact details of Kojima’s original ending idea. But given Kojima’s history, it makes sense.
Oh, you still want to persist in the idea that MGS4 isn’t “Kojima’s interpretation of the Metal Gear Saga”? Ok, how about;
5.) On twitch, Kojima said that, within him, he divides games as “A Hideo Kojima Game”, and NOT-“A Hideo Kojima Game.” MGS4 is considered “A Hideo Kojima Game”, which is why it was included in The Legacy Collection. On the other hand, MGR is NOT-“A Hideo Kojima Game.”
6.) In fact, Kojima explained that, due to difficulties with porting MGS4 to the XBox 360, it was decided not to make an XBox 360 version of The Legacy Collection, because “if we released a version on the Xbox 360 without MGS4, then it’s not The Legacy Collection.”
Honestly, I don’t know why it’s so hard for fans to accept that “parallel story” means “non-canon”, especially since the game was excluded from an official timeline less than a year after the game’s release. When the people behind Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City referred to the game as a “parallel story”, no Resident Evil fan ever tried to argue “oh, but they also said that the story is ‘tied to the worlds of Resident Evil 2 and 3’, so it’s canon!” RE fans knew exactly what they meant; the game was a non-canon, hypothetical scenario that was only loosely connected to the main Resident Evil timeline.
But when the creator of the Metal Gear series uses the exact same wording to refer to Metal Gear Rising, they try to twist the meaning of Kojima’s words in order to somehow make it seem like he still sees MGR as canon, when it should be incredibly obvious that he doesn’t take the game seriously.