Big Boss (Metal Gear)

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Big Boss (a.k.a. Naked Snake)
Big Boss was illustrated in Metal Gear Solid by Yoji Shinkawa. Although the character never actually appeared in the game, this illustration is used in the instruction manual and other official publications.
Series Metal Gear series
First game Metal Gear
Created by Hideo Kojima
Designed by Yoji Shinkawa (character design)
Voiced by (English) David Hayter (MGS3, MPO, PW)
Richard Doyle (MGS4)
Voiced by (Japanese) Akio Ōtsuka (MGS3, MPO, PW)
Chikao Ōtsuka (MGS4)
Motion capture actor(s) Mizuho Yoshida (MGS3)
Akio Ōtsuka (MGS4)
Fictional information
Real name John[1][2]
Also known as Jack (nickname),[3] Naked Snake (MGS3), One Eyed Man (MG2), Saladin (MGS),
Nationality American
Affiliations Green Berets (Pre-MGS3), FOX (MGS3), FOXHOUND (MPO, MG), The Patriots (post-MPO/pre-PW), Militaires Sans Frontières (MGS: PW), Outer Heaven (MG), Zanzibar Land (MG2).

Big Boss (ビッグ・ボス Biggu Bosu?) is a recurring fictional character from Konami's Metal Gear video game franchise. He is first introduced in the original Metal Gear as the commanding officer of protagonist Solid Snake, only to be revealed as the leader of the enemy forces as well, a role he would resume in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Big Boss would play a key role in the backstory of the series beginning with the first Metal Gear Solid, where he is revealed to be the genetic father of Solid Snake along with his other clone sons, Liquid and Solidus.

In addition to his role in the sequels, Big Boss also appears as the protagonist in a series of prequels set before the events of the original Metal Gear (beginning with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, followed by Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker), where he is depicted as an American covert operative codenamed Naked Snake (ネイキッド・スネーク Neikiddo Sunēku?), the partial namesake of Solid Snake and his brothers.

As Naked Snake, the character is voiced by Akio Ōtsuka in Japanese and David Hayter in English. In his appearance in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Big Boss was voiced by Chikao Ōtsuka (Akio Ōtsuka's father) in the Japanese version and Richard Doyle in the English version.

Metal Gear[edit | edit source]

Big Boss first appears in the original Metal Gear as the leader of the Special Forces Unit FOXHOUND and Solid Snake's commanding officer. He is depicted as an elderly mercenary with white hair and a beard, an eyepatch over his right eye. He initially acts as a radio contact who provides Snake with information about mission objectives, as well as weapons and equipment.[4][5]

However, near the end of the game as Snake approaches the final base where Metal Gear is stored, Big Boss begins to give misleading advice to the player, eventually ordering Snake to abort his mission. After Metal Gear is destroyed, Big Boss exposes himself as the leader of the Outer Heaven militia at the base's escape route and confronts Snake in a final battle with the base self-destruct mechanism counting down. After the ending credits, a message from Big Boss is displayed stating that he and Snake will encounter each other again.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake[edit | edit source]

In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Big Boss is revealed to have survived his battle with Snake in Outer Heaven (reportedly after receiving cybernetic "Snatcher" implants after losing most of his body according to a rumor mentioned by George Kasler in the game), and has since taken control of another fortified nation in Central Asia - Zanzibar Land. This time, he establishes a military force along with his trusted lieutenant, Gray Fox, and commissions the development of a new Metal Gear model, Metal Gear D. After Snake destroys Metal Gear D and defeats Gray Fox, he confronts Big Boss once again while escaping from the Zanzibar Land detention camp. With all of Snake's weapons lost during the prior fight with Fox, the player is forced to resort to a more clever way of fighting Big Boss by collecting a lighter and an aerosol can which Snake can combine to make a flamethrower.

Metal Gear Solid[edit | edit source]

Despite his apparent death, Big Boss's presence figures prominently in Metal Gear Solid and its subsequent sequels, where Solid Snake is revealed to be a genetically-altered clone of Big Boss created from a secret government project known as Les Enfants Terribles (The Terrible Children) along with another clone, his twin brother Liquid Snake. Liquid Snake, who became the leader of Foxhound following Solid Snake's retirement, mistakenly believes that his brother received their father's superior "soldier genes" and harbors a strong resentment towards Solid Snake. In the end, it is revealed that Liquid, rather than Solid, was the "superior" clone after all.[6] The ending of Metal Gear Solid also reveals the existence of Solidus Snake, a third clone who is an exact genetic duplicate of Big Boss,[7] that served as the U.S. President during the events of Metal Gear Solid and later returns as the antagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The Genome Army that Snake faces in Metal Gear Solid are also genetically altered soldiers who were implanted with Big Boss's genes after his body was recovered.[8] Big Boss's remains are part of the terrorists' demands in Metal Gear Solid.[9]

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater[edit | edit source]

File:Naked Snake.jpg
The young Big Boss goes by the codename of Naked Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a prequel to the previous games set three decades prior to the events of the original Metal Gear in 1964, introduces a young Big Boss as a former Green Beret under the codename "Naked Snake" (the player's character in the game). Since Solid Snake is Big Boss's clone, Naked Snake is virtually identical to Solid Snake from the previous Metal Gear Solid games in terms of appearance, wearing a similar bandanna during Operation: Snake Eater (which he snatched off from The Boss during his battle with her at the end of the Virtuous Mission) and is even voiced by the same voice actor as Solid Snake in the Japanese and English versions. He loses his right eye from a muzzle flash burn caused by a young Ocelot and begins to wear his characteristic eye patch late in the game. His primary outfit is a battle dress uniform with changeable camouflage patterns, although he also eventually obtains a Soviet prototype of Solid Snake's sneaking suit from Metal Gear Solid as well.

In the prologue sequence of the game, the Virtuous Mission, Naked Snake, a member of the newly formed special forces unit FOX (a precursor to FOXHOUND founded by the CIA and Major Zero), is given orders to infiltrate the fictionalized Soviet region of Tselinoyarsk and extract a defecting Soviet scientist named Nikolai Stephanovich Sokolov. After rescuing Sokolov, he is confronted by his mentor, The Boss, who defects to the Soviet Union and defeats Snake, before her new host, Colonel Volgin, deploys a nuclear weapon on a nearby research facility and leads the United States and Russia to the brink of war. In retribution for the attack and The Boss' defection, the United States sends Snake back to Russia on a second mission codenamed "Operation: Snake Eater," which comprises the remainder of the story. Snake's objective this time is to assassinate The Boss, as well as the Cobra Unit (The Boss's Comrades) and her new benefactor, Volgin, rescue Sokolov once again, and destroy the secret Soviet weapon Shagohod. In the end, Snake fulfills his mission and is awarded the title of Big Boss and the Distinguished Service Cross by President Johnson, only to learn the true nature of The Boss' defection from a recorded confession left by EVA, a female spy he worked and became intimate with during the story. The Boss was deep undercover to retrieve the Philosopher's Legacy before Colonel Volgin does, but was ordered to become a scapegoat after she was blamed for Volgin's nuclear attack on Sokolov's research facility. In the final scene, he goes to the The Boss's unmarked grave, leaves her gun and flowers, salutes and sheds a single tear.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops[edit | edit source]

Set six years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops features Naked Snake once again as the main character. In this game, Naked Snake wears a new version of the sneaking suit he wore in Metal Gear Solid 3 dubbed the "Close Quarter Combat Enhancer", which serves as the uniform of the FOX unit. Although already awarded the title of Big Boss, he prefers to be addressed by his former codename, believing that he has yet to surpass The Boss as a warrior. Snake finds himself involved in an armed uprising caused by the FOX unit (now led by Gene) in the fictional San Hieronymo peninsula in Colombia and learns that he has been convicted for instigating the revolt. Hoping to clear his name, Snake forms his own team of specialists by recruiting both old allies and defecting enemy soldiers to his cause, one of whom happens to be Roy Campbell. He faces not only the members of the FOX unit, but also the first built Metal Gear prototype known as the ICBMG. He defeats Gene and obtains the fund for "Army's Heaven", a precursor to Big Boss's own Outer Heaven.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots[edit | edit source]

Following up on the cliffhanger ending of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots reveals that Big Boss and his former commanding officer Zero, were the founding members of The Patriots. A fallout between Zero and Big Boss occurred due to each of them interpreting The Boss's will differently. Zero took the concept to mean control of the entire world by a group, to ensure unification. Big Boss believed that The Boss wanted a world where soldiers were not used as tools by the government. This caused Zero to initiate the Les Enfants Terribles project. This led Big Boss to break away from Zero and plot a coup d'état against him, causing the events of Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land. Big Boss is revealed to have survived his defeat in Zanzibar Land, but is placed in an artificially induced cryogenic coma, with his genetic code used for the Sons of the Patriots ID recognition system, the use of which allows access to the AIs that make up The Patriots. His body is thought to be recovered and preserved by EVA (now known as Big Mama), but it turns out to be Solidus Snake's remains. After the fall of one of the five AIs his body is reconstructed using parts from the bodies of both Liquid and Solidus and he awakens from his coma.

Following the voice casting credits at the ending, Big Boss appears before Solid Snake along with a now-catatonic Zero as a final twist in the story. After revealing the truth about Zero and the Patriots, as well as Ocelot's "possession" by Liquid, Big Boss shuts down Zero's life support system. It is shown that his killing of the Boss has still had a profound effect on him, even remarking that the day she died was the day he died as well.[10] He then reconciles with his son before dying from exposure to the FOXDIE virus implanted in Snake.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker[edit | edit source]

Big Boss' past serves again as the scenario in the PlayStation Portable game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Set in 1974, four years after the events of Portable Ops, Naked Snake has established his new group, the Militaires Sans Frontières ("Soldiers Without Borders") or MSF, on Colombia's Barranquilla Coast with his new partner Kazuhira Miller (the same character as McDonnell Miller from previous installments).

The story begins when two representatives of the Costa Rican government, Paz and Gálvez, seek to hire MSF to liberate Costa Rica of the "Peace Sentinels", a rogue CIA unit that has established bases in the country. Snake accepts the mission after Gálvez hands him an audio cassette with a recording between two women, one of which he recognizes as The Boss' voice. Following Miller's advice, the MSF takes over an offshore research platform in the Caribbean as their base of operations in a bid to expand the group's capabilities. Over the course of the story, Snake comes to learn about the true purpose of the MSF's campaign against the Peace Sentinels and gradually lets go of his guilt for killing The Boss, finally accepting the title of Big Boss.

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

NES games[edit | edit source]

When Metal Gear was released for the NES in North America and Europe, the plot within the actual game itself remained unchanged. However, the instruction manual features a different version of the story that strays from the canonical version and gives a more satirical depiction of the game (as with most of Konami's American manuals at the time). The leader of Outer Heaven is mentioned to be a so-called "Vermon CaTaffy", a play on Muammar al-Gaddafi, who is described in the manual as a "once tranquil shepherd boy who turned to terrorism". Big Boss is never mentioned by name in the manual either: instead a character called "Commander South" (a play on Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North) is described as Snake's commanding officer.

Snake's Revenge, a non-canonical sequel to the NES version of Metal Gear released only in North America and Europe, features Big Boss as the final boss before the player's confrontation with "Metal Gear 2". He attacks Snake as a regular man, before transforming into a giant cyborg after sustaining damage. Like in the first NES game, the game's manual names a character other than Big Boss as the main antagonist: in this case, the apparent villain is "Higharolla Kockamamie" (a parody of Ayatollah Khomeini).

Backstory differences[edit | edit source]

File:MG1 Boss.jpg
Drawing of Big Boss from the Japanese instruction manual for Metal Gear. Note that his eye patch is over his left eye instead of his usual right like later depictions.

In the original Metal Gear, Big Boss is characterized as having served in the Green Berets, SAS, and GSG 9 prior to serving as the commander of FOXHOUND.[4][11] The character portrait in the Japanese manual for the original MSX2 game depicts Big Boss wearing his eye patch over his left eye. However, the character's sprite in the game depicts the eye patch over his right eye. All subsequent depictions of Big Boss features the eye patch on his right eye. Big Boss's military career is further fleshed out in Metal Gear 2. He is revealed to had served the LRRP during the Vietnam War, followed by SOG and the Wild Geese, before losing his eye in the 1980s and becoming FOXHOUND's commander in the 1990s.[5][12] According to Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2, Big Boss was in his seventies during the events of Metal Gear 2 and his clones were created back when he was in his fifties during the 1970s.[13]

Much of Big Boss' established past would be revised when his past was explored in Metal Gear Solid 3 and its sequels. Big Boss' age is stated to be somewhere in his 30s during the events of Snake Eater set in 1964, whereas Peace Walker his birthdate to be in 1935,[14] establishing to be ten years younger than he was in the original Metal Gear Solid. He loses his eye during the course of Snake Eater to Ocelot, contradicting earlier statements of Big Boss having lost his eye during the 1980s. Additionally, the end of the game alludes to Big Boss forming FOXHOUND in 1971 (an event later depicted in Portable Ops), contradicting FOXHOUND's formation during the 1990s in earlier games.

Reception[edit | edit source]

IGN ranked Big Boss number 32 on their list of "Top 100 Video Game Villains".[15] Computerworld named Big Boss as one of the most creative "badass villains" in video games, citing the complexity of his betrayal of Solid Snake, fueled by Snake being his genetic heir.[16]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. KCEJ. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. "Ocelot: What's your name?/Snake: Snake./Ocelot: No, not that name. You're not a snake, and I'm not an Ocelot. We're men, with names... My name is Adamska. What's yours?/Snake: John./Ocelot: Very well, John.... Plain name, but I won't forget it."
  2. Kojima Productions. Metal Gear Solid 4: Database.
  3. Metal Gear Solid 3 - Naked Snake. “Member of special forces unit "FOX". Nickname "Jack".”
  4. 4.0 4.1 Metal Gear MSX2 version, instruction manual (Japanese). Konami (1987).
  5. 5.0 5.1 Metal Gear 2 MSX2 version, instruction manual (Japanese). Konami (1990).
  6. KCEJ. Metal Gear Solid. "Ocelot:Yes. The inferior one was the winner after all. ...That's right. Until the very end, Liquid thought he was the inferior one."
  7. KCEJ. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. "Big Boss: He was a perfect clone. Zero, and the proxy AIs that came after him, were convinced that Solidus was me"
  8. Konami. Metal Gear Solid. "Liquid: The Genome Soldiers. They too are his progeny, carrying on his genetic legacy. But they're different. They're digital. With the completion of the Human Genome project the mysteries of humanity were laid bare...Liquid: Thanks to father's DNA, they were able to identify more than sixty 'soldier genes' responsible for everything from strategic thinking... to the proverbial 'killer instinct'. Those 'soldier genes' were transplanted, into the membrane of Next Generation Special Forces. That's how they became the Genome Soldiers. That's right... The Genome Soldiers that you've been killing are our brothers, with the same genes as ours."
  9. KCJ. Metal Gear Solid. "Liquid: No. We still have to get our hands on Big Boss's DNA. Wolf: Have they given in to our demands yet?"
  10. Big Boss: The day I killed The Boss... with my own two hands... I... was already dead. (Konami, Metal Gear Solid 4, 2008)
  11. Metal Gear — Character Profiles (Japanese).
  12. Metal Gear 2 - Character Profiles (Japanese).
  13. Big Boss bio from the Metal Gear Solid website (Japanese). “"Died in his 70s"”
  14. Template:Cite game
  15. IGN editors (2010-07-04). Top 100 Videogame Villains. Retrieved on 2010-06
  16. Gagne, Ken. You can run, but you'll only die tired: Gaming's 'baddest' villains. Computerworld. Retrieved on 2008-09-16

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