Video games can be about many things, but more than anything else they’re concerned with immersion and momentum, with keeping the player constantly chipping away at the action-packed task at hand without a dull moment to ruin their flow.
But not all games have quite the same goal in mind – some are more keen to experiment with the very idea of video games as escapism, to toy with players by quite literally stopping the game’s narrative and/or gameplay without a moment’s notice.
These flourishes can range from meta, fourth wall-smashing surprises to ingenious puzzles, shocking moments that totally flipped the gameplay on its head, and everything in-between.
These are the moments that left players utterly slack-jawed in surprise, confusion, and amusement, as the developers hit the snooze button on the expected gaming experience to deliver something else entirely – whether for better or worse.
Indeed, these moments definitely didn’t work for everyone, but above all else they came totally out of nowhere and gave players something completely new to behold.
At their best, they represent video games at their most creative and fearlessly boundary-pushing…
Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid franchise is jam-packed with moments which quite literally stop the show, peeling back the fourth wall to wink at the player.
But one that actually stopped many players from progressing at all occurred early in the original Metal Gear Solid, when Colonel Campbell asks players to contact his “niece” Meryl by codec.
To obtain her codec frequency, Campbell suggests you look “on the back of the CD case,” which many players assumed was a reference to the MO disc given to Solid Snake by Kenneth Baker a little earlier on.
But there’s no way to interact with the MO disc, leaving countless players stumped on how the hell to reach Meryl.
Beyond simply brute-forcing a solution by trying every single codec frequency manually, it turns out that the number you need to call, 140.15, is quite literally on the back cover of the game case itself.
If you rented Metal Gear Solid or played a dodgy copy, though, you’d need to run to your local video game store and take a quick gander at the back of the case, this being 1998 where large swaths of the population didn’t yet have home Internet connections. Imagine that.