In 2004, the James Bond franchise was in a transitional period. Two years earlier, the disastrous Die Another Day had taken Pierce Brosnan from the cool intrigue and character development in Goldeneye to a CGI-overloaded sci-fi action movie that rivaled Moonraker in terms of sheer campiness. It would be another two years before Daniel Craig would make his debut, but until then the stealth action franchise Metal Gear Solid filled the gap with its third installment: Snake Eater.
Series director Hideo Kojima has always been shameless with references to movies he loves, and the Bond inspiration in Snake Eater is on full display. The first playable mission is capped off with a credits sequence and title song that rival the best Bond intros. The lyrics to the theme song are just as ridiculous as any Bond theme song…probably more actually (someday you go through the rain, and someday you feed on a tree frog). Inexplicably, an a cappella version of this theme plays later on in the game to accompany the thrilling sequence of Snake silently climbing up the longest ladder in any video game ever.
In an optional codec conversation, Major Zero even reveals himself as a huge James Bond fan. They discuss From Russia With Love, which was still recently released at the time the game takes place, and Zero suggests he change his name to 00-Snake. He also breaks the fourth wall a bit and says he wouldn’t be surprised if they made 20 more of those movies (Die Another Day being the 20th official James Bond movie).
The Metal Gear Solid series always borrowed from the best parts of sci-fi, action, and comic books, and Snake Eater especially has a deep level of espionage underlying every character’s move. There are double agents, double-crosses, over-the-top villains, and cool gadgets. Snake even comes equipped with a cyanide pill concealed in his false tooth. Even though I typically despise whenever the Bond franchise goes too far in the outright fantastic direction, sometimes I wish Bond would face off against a Metal Gear Solid style villain. Colonel Volgin is a super stylish bad guy straight out of the Cold War, perfect for the 60s era Bond, even though he shoots lightning from his hands. I’d even like to see Bond go up against members of the Cobra Unit, like The End, the 100 year old sniper, or The Pain, the guy who controls bees and uses them to form grenades and tommy guns. The closest I’ve reasonably gotten to seeing that would have to be in the book version of Dr. No, where Bond actually fights a giant tarantula. None of those scenarios would work on film at all, realistically, but maybe there’s some fanfiction out there waiting!