When Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots released in the early summer of 2008, it had been over three years since a new installment had come out, and it had been three years since the game was announced in 2005. Excitement was huge: this was the first Metal Gear to come to the seventh generation of consoles, and on top of that the final episode in the saga, ending the story of Solid Snake.
To celebrate the long awaited launch, Konami organized a world tour by Hideo Kojima. He would meet fans around the globe and hand out autographs, in Asia, the US and Europe.
On June 7th of 2008, 5 days before the release of the game, this tour led Kojima to the city of Amsterdam, and we attended the event. Hard to believe seven years have passed since then. Here is a retrospective of that memorable day.
The signing session took place in the Media Markt Arena, a large electronics store just outside the city.
We arrived about forty minutes early, but to our surprise a long line had already formed. Now this is quite unusual here in the Netherlands, to see loads of people line up for a gaming event.
Three people were going to give out autographs: Hideo Kojima, Yoji Shinkawa, and Yumi Kikuchi, who has done the motion capture for several characters in the series as well as lending her voice (in the Japanese version) and appearance to Raging Raven, one of the bosses in MGS4. There was a small camera crew making recordings for the official video of the tour.
The Media Markt had temporarily converted a laptop booth into a desk for Kojima and the rest to sit behind. There were strict rules: you were not allowed to stop to take photographs during your turn, Kojima was not going to sign any ‘body parts’ or clothes, and one item per person only. This was to ensure as many people as possible had a chance to get their goodies signed. People brought a lot of different games – Metal Gear Games, Snatcher CD, and yes, if memory serves us right, even Penguin Adventure. Another fan brought the outer shell of his PS3. For those who did not bring something to sign, they were also distributing small MGS4 flyers.
We waited in line for 1,5 – 2 hours. The launch trailer was looping constantly on a big screen. As time went on it became uncertain whether we would be able to get the autograph. Time was running out. Literally five minutes before the signing session ended, it was finally our turn. We had a copy of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater signed and one of the MGS4 flyers. First you were led past Shinkawa, then Kojima, and lastly Kikuchi. They signed the goodies and shook hands.
Shortly after, the session closed. It was hard not to feel bad for the people who just missed their chance, and who had come all the way from the other side of the country. Kojima had gone on slightly longer than planned, but now they really had to leave.
Store management had been smart enough to stock up on Metal Gear games, almost all the installments were in stock, and when we left the building we saw many fans at the checkout with their hands full of Metal Gear games (we grabbed a sealed copy of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance). But of course the real score were the signed items, and the experience of having met Kojima in person.