"Adaptation" was the term coined. "Port" was dismissed on the grounds that the console version's hefty tweaks make it markedly different from the original. Though given the franchise's literary background, one would think "adaptation" had a uniquely fitting eloquence.
Both reference and terminology comes to mind after sampling Snake Eater 3D.
Though the game's got an uphill struggle from the off. It's the second re-release of the title in as many months. And for those that picked up the home console Metal Gear Solid HD Collection last month, raises the question: aside from its portability, where's the sell?
For handheld-only owners, the answer should be easier: on the strength of 3D alone, this looks like the definitive version of the modern classic.
That's should though. As we know, looks aren't everything. And as we'll see, this handheld adaptation isn't without it's problems.
Much as it was with Ocarina, Metal Gear Solid's jungle environments benefit greatly from that screen-side slider. Yet as much as the added cosmetic touches maintain your appreciation throughout - Kojima's eye for cut-scenes has never looked better, Codec exchanges suddenly leap to life - it's the added immersion with your environment that draws you so vividly, so completely, into this Cold War tale of espionage, betrayal and revenge.
You'll feel the need to slap away fronds or blink an eye when you crawl through long grass. Equip binoculars and pan around come entry of every new location.
The added dimension gives those moments when patrols march not three feet from your hiding spot a stronger potency.
Given that, for the most part, Snake Eater subtracted the cold steel and uniformity of military bases and oil tankers from previous games for the uneven stretches of forest, swamp and jungle, the increased depth perception twined with 3DS's continually impressive speakers (headphones are once again a must) lends belief to the world beyond the areas you're restricted to.
The illusion is not entirely successful however. The intervening years between original release and now causing a more critical appraisal of the game's initially small sections. Despite the exterior surroundings this feels like the most claustrophobic Metal Gear Solid of them all.
Sneaking through these isn't helped by a control scheme that, while intuitively designed, isn't perfect. Sans Circle Pad Pro, the camera is mapped to the four face buttons, and digital is unable to translate the smooth pans of analog that are needed: a massive hindrance come gunfights.
And given the majority of gunfights come as a last ditch resort swathed in panic, the difficulty in lining up shots runs counter to Snake's supposed field experience. It's here that the home consoles edge out the 3DS with a smoother control scheme - aside those owners with a Circle Pad Pro.
Close Quarters Combat fairs better, shoulder button initiations ending in death or dizziness by context-sensitive D-Pad inputs. So does selecting, equipping and using items or weapons, mapped to the sides of the Touch Screen and within easy reach of thumbs, while the swathes of sub-menus are reassigned to a shallow handful for easy access.
Snake Eater is unforgiving. Three games into the series the subtraction of a always-on motion sensor, clear lines of sight and trackable patrol routes was an obvious concession to player adaptability to franchise familiarity. Standalone, and for new players, MGS3 is a nightmare.
But Snake Eater is also one of the finest entries into the series. The Cold War setting tears away the convoluted story lines found elsewhere in the series and keeps the story relatable.
It's a stripped down Apocalypse Now that, while not shaking off Kojima's time-chewing cut-scenes, keeps you engaged enough to want to work past the control issues (or just invest in a Circle Pad Pro) to see the story's resolution.
So for 3DS owners, it's the most cinematic and engrossing cartridge you'll stick into the machine, but be warned of the time needed to acclimatise to the vanilla control setup -and that the title requires an extra piece of hardware (and more cash) to enjoy properly is a heavy strike against it. For those who already own Snake Eater as part of the HD compilation, is this adaptation worth the double-dip?
It's a question that requires another question to answer: which MGS era was your favourite? If it's the tougher bite of Snake Eater, then it's worth seeing Kojima's classic in a whole new way.