Incredibly strong connections can be formed between a gamer and a game. Such a connection was formed between myself and Metal Gear Solid on the Play Station. To this day I do not recall who it was that let five-year old me play the deservedly Mature rated game, but the result of this lapse of parental guidance has led to a full-fledged love affair between me and the Metal Gear series.
When Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was released, I spent even more time locked in outrageously fun boss battles, dog tag collecting, and cardboard-boxing my way to safety. My love of the MGS universe was deepening and I wanted more. There was never a more anticipated game for me than Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
While by no means "Mature", by the humble age of eleven I had replayed the previous two installments enough times to better grasp the severity of the story (which only increased my appreciation of the series). I still remember my excitement in the car-ride home on the day of the game's release (in my glee-induced rush I actually opened the case in the car to just look at the disc). All my expectation of the game were rushing through my head – try as I might to quell them. After putting the disc into the drive, however, all of those worries were quickly put to rest.
The intro piece of music to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is, to this day (and most likely for the rest of my days) my favorite piece of music from a video game. I wish I could go back to the moment I first saw the video and heard the song; it was so unexpected, so different than anything I had imagined from the game. Epic. Beautiful. It transported you to another place where this woman's booming voice bounced between trees.
"Someday you go through the rain
And someday, you feed on a tree frog
This ordeal, the trial to survive
For the day we see new light!"
For me, this game has such a unique feel to it, and the song captured it perfectly. Unlike the similar locales of the other two games, the settings of Metal Gear Solid 3 had you swimming through swamps, hiding in the leaves, and feeding on king cobras (sweet!). The game was also brighter, with full vibrant colors matched by the full sound of the song accompanied by visual lyrics. The song develops an almost familiar feel to it as you play the game, be it the full verison or just the orchestral music, it stays with you throughout the game.
The moment I realized that this was my favorite video game song came years later. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots knew its fan base. Publishers at Konami and Director Kojima knew that the series was just as much a personal journey for the players as it was an action game. Which is why during the games final boss fight, the song Snake Eater plays, and the controls changed to how they were in MGS3. This was such a "full-circle" moment for me, as I was sure it was for many Metal Gear fans.
Music's ability to leave such deep and lasting effects on its listeners is due in part to the connections we associate that song with. When you force a friend to sit down and watch a YouTube video of a song you have listened to for years, don't act surprised when he does not immediately share in your excitement; people come to find what they enjoy through their own means.
No one told me to listen to this song, and if I were to have heard it in another context (apart from the game) odds are I would not have given it much thought. But in that moment: where game, song, and person meet, it was perfect. The song's ability to not only bring me back to when I first played that game, but to symbolize an entire series for me – all the personal investment I gave to those characters and their story – make it still hold such a strong place in my heart.