Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Editor's Note: If you're looking for our thoughts on the individual releases within the Collection, then check out our reviews on Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which you can buy individually on the Switch eShop.

For Nintendo fans, the Metal Gear franchise has long been just out of reach, with Konami dangling the metaphorical carrot with one-off releases such as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes on GameCube, Ghost Babel on Game Boy Color, and Snake Eater 3D on the 3DS. After decades of neglect, however, Switch owners can now rejoice, as we’re not only getting one, but five games from Hideo Kojima’s Magnum Opus (plus a couple of fun non-canon extras thrown in for good measure). The question, however, is whether this compilation - dubbed Master Collection Vol. 1 - is actually worth owning.

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The good news is that, yes, this is more or less a strong representation of Metal Gear’s history from 1987 to 2004, encompassing everything from the original MSX2 release of Metal Gear to the critically acclaimed prologue, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. For newcomers especially, the collection is a convenient way to experience a significant chunk of the Metal Gear saga, but there are admittedly several drawbacks that dull the shine on what could (and should) have been an easy slam dunk for Konami.

Looking at the games first, what exactly is included here? Well, you’ve got the MSX2 versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, then Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Additionally, the NES games Metal Gear and Snake’s Revenge are included in the bonus material; these are considered non-canon as series creator Hideo Kojima wasn’t involved in their development, so to see them here is a pleasant surprise. Konami has been especially generous with the Metal Gear Solid trilogy, including multiple regional releases for each game along with the VR Missions, Special Missions, and Japan-only Integral release for the original PS1 classic. In short, there’s quite a lot to sink your teeth into.

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Are they any good to play, though? Well, there are several factors at work here. Crucially, it will depend on just how tolerant you are when it comes to ageing software. The Metal Gear franchise, for all its ingenuity, has never boasted the most elegant control scheme, and this is more apparent here than ever before. Simple tasks like peeking to the left or right when hiding in a locker require you to contort your fingers into unnatural positions to press all the necessary buttons. For veterans, this is all par for the course and likely forms part of the franchise’s charm, but newcomers will be perplexed by some of the mechanics on display.

The other factor is, of course, performance, and this has been a subject of much debate and consternation ahead of the compilation’s launch. When it comes to the MSX2 and NES games, these run exactly how you’d expect, so there's no need to worry about those. The original Metal Gear Solid is also pretty much identical to its initial PS1 release, warts and all, displaying the image in a 4:3 aspect ratio at 30 frames per second. Could it have been upgraded in any way? Sure, but this is about as authentic an experience as you’re likely to get, so we’re not going to concern ourselves too much with what could have been.

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

As for Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, however, Switch owners have undoubtedly been given the short end of the stick in this collection. To clarify, these versions are based on the 2012 HD remasters from developer Bluepoint Games, which ran at a rock-solid 60FPS on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. While this performance has been maintained on other platforms for the Master Collection, the frame rate has taken a hit on Switch, with the PS2 games running at 30FPS. In principle, this is incredibly disappointing given the age of these games and the fact that the Switch is more than capable of pulling off 60FPS gameplay, but the reality is that the games still feel pretty good to play regardless. That’s not to trivialise the issue for those feeling stung by Konami’s decision, but we sincerely doubt that many will even notice during moment-to-moment stealth gameplay.

That said, we're hopeful that Konami will see some sense and update the games in the near future to bring the frame rate in line with other platforms. The reason we say this is that Metal Gear Solid 2, in particular, does hit 60FPS at specific points; namely when control is taken away from the player, such as transitioning from one area to the next and opening/closing lockers. It's brief, but it's there, and hopefully, with a bit of jiggery-pokery, Konami will be able to pull it off.

In addition to the games, Konami has also included a host of extras to dive into, including screenplay books, master books (which are elaborate manuals that include some history of the franchise), soundtracks, and graphic novels. The actual content included here is genuinely wonderful and it’s a great way for newcomers to dig into the overarching story, but locating everything can feel like a bit of a chore.

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Strangely, Konami has seen fit to split the collection into five separate apps on the Switch. You’ve got one for each of the Metal Gear Solid games, one for the MSX2 titles, and a fifth specifically for bonus content. Some extra material, such as the master books and screenplays, can be found in the game apps themselves, but the graphic novels and soundtracks are separated into the bonus app along with the NES titles. It’s not a deal breaker, by any means, but why Konami didn’t just collate everything under one, convenient roof is baffling. Then again, there’s something inherently satisfying about seeing all three Metal Gear Solid games on the Switch home screen with Yoji Shinkawa’s incredible artwork.

What’s also disappointing with the presentation is just how many additional downloads you’ll need to complete if you want the whole package. Extras like graphic novels and even certain language options are locked away behind optional downloads, and you’re going to need quite a lot of free storage space if you want absolutely everything installed. Physical enthusiasts will also need to keep in mind that the cartridge itself only houses the MSX2 and NES games, so if you want to play any of the Metal Gear Solid titles, you’ll need to download them.


If you've never played any of the Metal Gear Solid titles before, or indeed their MSX2 ancestors, then the Master Collection on Switch is a perfectly fine way to experience some of the most iconic games of all time. That said, Switch owners have undoubtedly been stung by Konami's decision to cut MGS 2 and 3's frame rate down to 30, and although moment-to-moment gameplay still feels satisfying, it's a frustrating approach that we're hopeful will be patched at a later date. As for the overall package, there's a lot here that will keep you entertained, but the way it's been presented feels less than ideal. Still, it's a compilation well worth investigating if you're itching to play (or replay) the Metal Gear Solid saga.