It's pretty astounding to think (especially in our modern era of zero job security) that Hideo Kojima wasn't just employed at the same place for three decades—most of his years at Konami saw the creation of one thing: Metal Gear games.
Sure, Metal Gear had a fallow period during the early-to-mid '90s, but it's safe to say the overwhelming majority of Hideo Kojima's career as a game designer has been spent toiling away on the saga that finally comes to a close with tomorrow's release of The Phantom Pain. Granted, Kojima hasn't had the time to work on much outside the world of Big Boss and Solid Snake, but the few games he's managed to squeak out between Metal Gear Solids definitely bear his distinctive stamp—even if he's only listed as producer. If you've explored the Metal Gear Solid universe from top to bottom and still want more, consider adding these additional Hideo Kojima experiences to your "must-play" list.
The doomed Sega CD didn't have the strongest library—with such a short life and a tiny install base, how could it? Still, back in the mid-90s, Hideo Kojima's Snatcher stood out as one of the major highlights of this Genesis add-on. Essentially, Snatcher plays out via the mechanics of a visual novel, with some light adventure elements sprinkled in, like your Ace Attorneys and Danganronpas of today. If you're used to the meticulous gameplay of Metal Gear, it's definitely interesting to see Kojima's ideas filtered through the lens of a genre devoted entirely to storytelling.
Even if the majority of Snatcher consists of pointing, clicking, and reading, the game still contains those Kojima touches we've come to love: fourth wall breaking, insane plot twists, and his usual obsession with the smallest details. Sure, Snatcher may lean a little too hard on Blade Runner and The Terminator—which may explain why it hasn't seen a rerelease in 20 years—but it's not like Metal Gear didn't find its main inspiration in some pretty obvious cinematic sources. Unfortunately, the small print run of Snatcher means used copies regularly go for $500 on eBay, but if you can find a way to play it, you'll definitely be rewarded with a side of Kojima you've never seen before.
Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand
The main gimmick of Boktai roots this Game Boy Advance game firmly in the technological limitations of 2003. In a world where the Game Boy Advance SP was a fairly new invention, why not make an experience that taps into the best possible way to play on Nintendo's portable? And that's exactly what Boktai does. The main character's vampire-destroying gun gains power via the actual sun—you know, the one in the mystical place known as "outside"—meaning you'll have to subject yourself to its harsh rays in order to play effectively. The way the actual hardware factors into the game design definitely screams "Kojima;" Metal Gear Solid's Psycho Mantis boss fight contains similar instances of a game reaching out into the real world via the means of molded plastic.
There's more to Boktai than just a simple sunlight gimmick, though. Most of the game involves investigating dungeons that play out via stealth gameplay very much like Metal Gear Solid—albeit from an isometric perspective. The result is one of the most stunningly original games in the Game Boy Advance library that didn't do itself many favors by releasing in America just as autumn began. If you can get your hands on the original cart and don't mind playing video games outdoors, you'll be treated to the first chapter of a series that really should have gotten its due.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner
The original Zone of the Enders should have been called "Trojan Horse." Ultimately, it was a hollow experience engineered to sneak a substantial demo of Metal Gear Solid 2 into people's homes during the early days of the PlayStation 2. This first entry in the short-lived Zone of the Enders series has some good ideas, but the game ultimately feels unfinished, and ends on a supremely disappointing cliffhanger.
Two years later, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner arrived to right the wrongs of the first game. Its biggest strength is that it feels like a full experience, rather than a dashed-off attempt at an interesting premise. Combat is now much more intense, the backtracking of the previous game is eliminated, and it simply looks phenomenal—even all these years later. Kojima might only be a producer on the Zone of the Enders series, but the director of The 2nd Runner has worked on plenty of Metal Gear games, and even co-directed 2008's Guns of the Patriots. And unlike any other game on this list, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is easily available—the 2012 HD collection can easily be had for 10 dollars or less, so there's no reason not to try out this underappreciated gem.
Granted, it's pretty cruel to put P.T. on this list—but ignoring it would be just as terrible. This Playable Teaser (get it?) for an upcoming Silent Hill-related project from Kojima and director Guillermo del Toro arrived mysteriously in the PSN Store in August of 2014, and had players captivated by its take on first-person horror. Unfortunately, the dust-up between Kojima and Konami caused the latter to remove P.T. from the PSN Store entirely, and prevent those who downloaded it from downloading it again. So if this is the first you've heard of P.T., you'll either need to find a friend who nabbed it in time, or scour online marketplaces for a PlayStation 4 with P.T. pre-installed. It turns out the real horror of Silent Hill was digital distribution.