Hideo Kojima was ready to cancel Metal Gear Solid 2 and resign after 9/11

(Image credit: Konami)

Hideo Kojima was on the verge of canceling Metal Gear Solid 2 and resigning from Konami after the events of September 11, 2001.

The end of Metal Gear Solid 2 sees Arsenal Gear - a giant submersible fortress - crash into Manhattan. In-game, the scene simply jumps from the ship speeding across the ocean to it sitting amid several ruined New York buildings. A few behind-the-scenes details released over the years made clear that scenes of Arsenal Gear crashing into the city were removed in the wake of 9/11.

In a recently-translated interview with magazine Weekly Toyo Keizai, Kojima said that "The depiction of [the] game's themes and its numerous similarities with the real-world events on September 11 rendered it unfit for release at the time. After consulting with lawyers, the end result was that the game required revisions in 300 spots. It goes without saying that we were in crisis mode and it was threatening the release and sale of the game."

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Kojima said that he was called into a meeting with Konami's board of directors in order to explain the details of MGS2's story to them. "Everyone's facial expression had a look of 'this is not good'," Kojima said.

At the time, the director thought "the game shouldn't be released at this period in time. I have no other choice but to take responsibility and resign from the company." Two people changed Kojima's mind. One was then Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi, who told him "this is not a matter you should be ashamed of. You should go ahead and release the game."

Kojima also "reached out to Kagemasa Kozuki, the founder of Konami through email. He responded with, 'I have made up my mind. The game should be released. What are your thoughts?' I was moved by the words and I too made up my mind."

While the game's release "was postponed by a few weeks," Metal Gear Solid 2 ended up launching in November 2001 to critical acclaim, and is beloved by fans today.

MGS2 was not the only 2001 game to undergo changes in the wake of 9/11. Grand Theft Auto 3 changed the design of Liberty City's police cars to less closely resemble that of the real NYPD. Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro on PS1 was delayed to change its final level, which would've taken place on top of the World Trade Center.

A new Metal Gear Solid collection will bring back the OG MGS2 on top of the new Metal Gear Solid 3 remake.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.