With the sure-to-be-epic conclusion the Metal Gear franchise - The Phantom Pain - due out in less than 7 days, buzz surrounding this delightfully bizarre saga is at an all time high. Why? Because no one but the series' endlessly eccentric creator, Hideo Kojima, has a damn clue about what to expect.
Kojima has become famous for his ability to produce games that constantly amaze, stun and surprise, injecting everything he touches with his own unique brand of insanity. As such, the Metal Gear franchise is packed full of wonderfully weird easter eggs and secrets. Here are some of the best:
The Bird Poop Slide
Game: MGS 2
Sometimes the most inane jokes are the funniest, and there's nothing more childishly inane than bird poop. As a nice added touch, running too fast near the feces will result in a cartoon-character-like tumble, legs flailing and all. It never gets old.
Shadow Moses, the setting of Metal Gear Solid, is haunted by spirits, but these phantoms are very much alive - and real! In fact, the ghosts are actually all members of the game's development team, all 42 of them only visible when viewed through Snake's camera. Spooky.
Psycho Mantis Reads (and blows) Your Mind
If there's a single defining Metal Gear moment, this is it. After encountering the telekinetic soldier Psycho Mantis, the player is confronted by his jaw-dropping mind reading abilities. Mantis actually 'moves' your PlayStation controller via its vibration feature, before asking you about games you've previously played, reading the data off the console's memory card.
It may sound like a neat little gimmick nowadays, but believe me: to a 12-year-old it was one of the most deeply affecting moments in video game history, and made me deeply suspicious of my seemingly sentient PlayStation.
Smooching Fake Models
Game: MGS 2
Encountering soft porn inside the lockers of MGS 2 was a little strange. But far weirder than that was hearing your character kiss the provocative poster every time you zoomed in on it. Creepy, and yet hilarious.
Death By Ketchup
After you get yourself captured in MGS, you find yourself seemingly helpless inside a cell with only a packet of ketchup to keep you company. There are multiple ways to escape the situation, but my favorite by far involves lying flat on the floor and using the handy condiment.
The guard outside will see you lying in a pool of delicious sauce, thinking you've died, at which point you can hop up and show him what real blood looks like. Genius.
Hideo Invades His Own Game
Game: MGS: Peace Walker
The franchise's creator often likes to get super meta, and even likes to insert himself into his games. You can actually recruit Kojima as part of your squad in Peace Walker, finding him hiding out in a truck with the license plate '63824' (a reference to the day he was born - August 24, 1963).
Old Age Is A Killer
Game: MGS 3
Metal Gear's boss fights have become legendary, with each one allowing for a huge range of tactical approaches. Some, even, can be avoided completely, if the player is clever enough.
When up against an ancient sniper called The End, rather than facing him head on you can choose to simply wait the fight out. Once the battle begins, quit out of the game and fast forward your console's system clock by a week. When you return to the game you'll find that The End has succumbed to old age. Some people might call that 'the coward's way out.'
Removing a Statue's Manhood
Game: MGS 4
Carrying on in the tradition of Kojima's childishly lewd sense of humor, hopping up on this statue will see Snake cover up the stone genitals. Do so three times and the penis will break clean off! Ouch.