GAMING

The Weekly WTF: ‘Snatcher,’ the Manliest Christmas Game You Ever Saw

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chris-littlechild - December 19, 2014

You know how it is with Christmas movies. They're often of the flowery, namby-pamby, Lifetime TV-y variety. The Grinch's heart suddenly grows three sizes, breaks that measuring device and he's not an asshole any more. Everyone has a bit of a dance and there's jangly music and all that sort of BS.

At no point do muscular dudes stride in and shoot seven shades of shit out of each other. There are very few terrorist plots for Bruce Willis or Sly Stallone to foil, and almost zero explosions. For shame. We are men, manly men with chest hair and everything, and we demand a little good ol' fashioned violence in our movies.

Now, there's Die Hard. And I seem to remember Arnold Schwarzenegger punching a freaking reindeer in the face in Jingle All the Way. But we're not counting that one, because it's balls. Which leaves our Christmas entertainment at... one movie. And, as it happens, one game. Gentlemen, meet Snatcher.

This, right here, is the holiday game we deserve and the one we need right now. A rollicking tale of spies, murderous robots, biological weapons and Metal Gear Solid/Blade Runner piss-takery. What's not to like?

This Japanese oddity from the late eighties was ported to PlayStation, Sega-CD and PC Engine (and a couple other systems besides). It's part point-and-click adventure, part visual novel and all effing crazy. Buckle up, gentlemen, and we'll take a look.

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Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Snatcher's story begins in 1996, with the detonation of a biological weapon that destroys half the world's population. If the aftermath of this, ‘Snatchers' (angry-ass cyborgs of some sort) begin mysteriously appearing. Nobody knows where these bastards came from, but their objective seems to be to murder humans and take our place. Which is, y'know, all kinds of uncool. But don't worry, a guy with a woman's name is on the case.

Our hero is Gillian Seed, a Blade Runner of sorts. He's tasked with finding where these things are coming from and wiping them out.

The backstory to this one is long, meandering and usually goddamn ridiculous. It starts dramatically enough, with the Snatchers luring Seed into a trap with a fancy-ass time bomb. He then learns that UV rays are deadly to the belligerent ‘bots, and that they must wear powerful sunscreen at all times. Suddenly, they've invaded the Kremlin, and the Russians are developing some kind of super-ultimate-ass-whupper weapon during the Cold War.

In short, Snatcher is the Lady Gaga gig of video games: it's such a clustereff that nobody knows what the hell's going on, but you've got to admire their chutzpah. It's a grab bag of influences from Metal Gear Solid, Terminator and assorted Philip K. Dick-ery, and is quite the ambitious piece of work.

But how is it a Christmas game? Why have I been prattling on about it for so long? Seed dons a Santa suit at one point to elude the Snatchers. If that's too half-assed a link, some of it is also set in the holiday season. If it's good enough for Die Hard, it's good enough for this one.

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