I agree with Chi's statement that Metal Gear Solid is a technical achievement for Game Boy. Konami did an excellent job porting an elaborate 32-bit 3-D game down to an 8-bit portable system. With that said, I felt the game was far less compelling than Chi did. I would find myself putting the game down after a game session and later having to force myself to pick it up, only because I wanted to get my money's worth.
It's not because the game was not enjoyable. The Game Boy Color version actually extends the already sophisticated sneaking system to include hiding places in the environment, such as wheat fields and mud. The levels are more challenging due to more effective enemy placement and walking patterns. In this way the game surpasses the original Metal Gear Solid and introduces a number of new gameplay elements. The main fault of the game is the lack of an effective reward system. Sneaking is hard work, and if I was effectively stealthy, I should have had a great payoff for my effort.
In the PlayStation version, the boss fights were my favorite rewards. They were exciting points in the game that combined excellent cinematic storytelling and great gameplay. Due to technical limitations, the face-offs in the Game Boy version could not be as visually engaging as the previous version, but I found the boss battles to be rather boring, often playing like other 2-D bosses found in NES games. While each boss was somewhat developed through dialogue before (and especially after) their death blow, the showdown was often more anti-climactic than rewarding.
One of the most effective rewards of any narrative game is reaching the next plot point, where the player discovers what happens next in the story. Metal Gear Solid delivers a far too familiar plot to engage fans of the series. The giant nuclear enabled robot, the love interest that disguises herself in the enemy base, and the geeky scientist rescue continually remind us that we've seen it all before. While some of the names and faces are different, the story feels like a big "been there, done that" throughout the proceedings.
Weapons and items are often great ways to keep people engaged—people love toys to play with in games. Metal Gear Solid acts as if weapons and ammo are great rewards, when really they're one of the most boring things about the game. The weapons are plain and uninteresting, and don't mesh well with the hidden in the darkness style of play (compared to the highly integrated weapons in a game like Thief). They feel like afterthoughts—included in the game so you can shoot the final bad guys with something. The items are worse. Most of them work like magic amulets that allow Snake to walk through a dangerous place without getting harmed. With the exception of the cardboard box, none of them directly assist Snake in sneaking around the enemy camp. They're boring because the game continually gave me ammo and weapons I didn't want or need, and items that didn't make the journey any more interesting.
Even though I had a difficult time playing through the game, it's hard to dislike Metal Gear Solid. Konami put a lot of effort and time in bringing the game to a handheld system, and threw in plenty of options to try to keep us from being bored. To be fair, while this game falls far below the heights that its predecessor achieved, it stands among the greatest games for the Game Boy.