Of all the iconic moments in Metal Gear Solid, the battle against Psycho Mantis is tough to top. It’s both a cool boss fight and a mild deconstruction of your gaming habits!
For those who haven’t squared off against this gas-masked psychic, one of his powers was the ability to read your memory card and make note of what you’ve been playing. This largely hinged on how many Konami games you had saved, but it was still wild at the time. Look, it was 1998, so having a character call out Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was more than enough to blow your mind.
Psycho Mantis can name a small handful of games you’ve been playing. For those he doesn’t mention by title, he’ll say something generic like “You like action games!” Been jamming Azure Dreams or Suikoden? He’ll hit you with the “You enjoy role-playing games” shoutout. Is he wrong about me digging Konami games, folks? Considering it was the tail end of the ’90s, he was absolutely on point.
But what about the true PlayStation outliers? There were plenty of games you’d rather scrub from your memory card entirely, but Psycho Mantis sees all. Here are a few I wish he’d keep his prying mind away from.
The Crow: City of Angels
“You prefer the dark, blind to all but the most garish of lighting. Ah… yes, you enjoy beat ’em ups with tank controls!”
The Crow was a cool movie, even enveloped in the dark shadow of Brandon Lee’s passing. The Crow: City of Angels was not a particularly cool movie, and it made for an even worse video game. How could anyone blame me for trying out a game that promised “3-D fighting with a vengeance”? Unfortunately, City of Angels ended up turning into unintentional horror. Resident Evil style tank controls are woefully unsuited for what should be an exciting action game.
Toss in deadeye enemies who quickly overpower you with firearms you can’t hope to compete against and I’d much rather be stuck in a room with Psycho Mantis. Much has been said about how awful developer Gray Matter’s attempt at The Crow is, but mere words will never suffice.
Razor Freestyle Scooter
“You shun Tony Hawk, don’t you? You prefer to live on the razor’s edge.”
I’ll totally own up to this: Not only did I rent and enjoy developer Shaba Games’s Razor Freestyle Scooter back in The Year 2000, I did everything I could possibly do in it. I don’t think I ever 100 percented any of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, despite playing them pretty much around the clock. I did, however, bask in a cool hundo with Razor, and I’ll shout that bold accomplishment from the mountaintops.
If Psycho Mantis is truly seeing my memory card in this scenario, he’s secretly impressed.
Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi
“Put your controller on the floor. Now, grab your copy of Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi and weep!”
Believe it or not, there was once a time when Star Wars fans were hungry for new content. 1997 was a big year for the series as A New Hope celebrated its 30th anniversary, launching the original trilogy back into theaters with questionable improvements. On the other end of Star Wars: Special Edition‘s January opening was the November launch of Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi. While the concept of a one-on-one Star Wars fighting game isn’t bad on its own, the execution of Masters of Teräs Käsi was just as clumsy and forgettable as its title.
With games this rank in my personal collection, Psycho Mantis had no hope of wrangling the tattered remnants of my mind. The only way he could possibly have beaten me would involve actually challenging me to a round of Teräs Käsi.
Mary-Kate and Ashley: Winners Circle
“My demonstration is not yet over… I see you enjoy the celebrity spotlight. But one star is not enough for your sky. Perhaps your skills are best served not with twin snakes, but with twin mistakes! Die in your winner’s circle!”
Psycho Mantis may fancy himself the foremost practitioner of the psychokinetic arts, but even he has his limits. Truthfully, I cannot explain why a sole save file for Mary-Kate and Ashley: Winner’s Circle rests deep within the weary bones of my PS1 memory card. If taking what may very well be the least offensively dumb game starring the Olsen twins for a brief gallop over 20 years ago is a crime, well, Psycho Mantis might as well deal the death blow.
It’s all fun and games for a creepy video game character to spring to life in my mind and shout out all the cool stuff I’ve had the fortune of playing over the years. Calling out the duds is another thing entirely. As ashamed as I should probably be over my past choices for renting, borrowing, or (shudder) buying, I refuse to cower in discomfiture. I’ll continue to proudly bounce his hypothetical barbs off my chest, knowing I lived a life well wasted in the ’90s and early aughts.
Besides, he’s not ready for what I’m willing to play when the price is free. May Psycho Mantis never gain the ability to read my Game Pass saves.