Inventory Time: Metal Gear Solid’s PAL Key

The Metal Gear Solid is a bizarre series. Personally I’m a fan of it, I like the ridiculous and the over the top, and so the MGS franchise suits me well. Of all the crazy MGS stuff, and trust me if you haven’t tried the series, there’s a lot of bonkers stuff, one item in particular has perplexed me for decades, that item is the PAL key. The PAL key or the Permissive Acton Link key is an emergency disc that is used to activate or deactivate nuclear weapons. That’s all fine and good but it’s the actual disc and how to use it that I want to talk about today. Obviously this is going to contain spoilers for Metal Gear Sold but nothing too spoilery. If a memory card reading, gas mask wearing, levitating psycho hasn’t persuaded you to play the MGS series then my mild spoiler shouldn’t turn you away for good. With that, let’s talk about PAL, pal!

palkeyred

Towards the end of Metal Gear Solid you discover that the enemy, Liquid, has started the activation process for the nuclear weapons. Not good news. So you, as Solid Snake must deactivate the nukes. Previous plans have failed but you discover the emergency option, the PAL key. In an emergency, 3 discs of data can be input into 3 computers to either activate nuclear weapons or disarm nuclear weapons. These keys are one use and if you mess up the input order or input the same disc by mistake then you’re all out of luck. As Eminem said, ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow nukes’. Pretty sure that was it or close enough anyway, clearly he wrote that rap whilst playing Metal Gear Solid. So Solid Snake checks his infinite pockets and wouldn’t you know it, he only has one PAL key. He gets on his walkie-talkie to his urine soaked scientist buddy Otacon and has a bit of a moan about only having one key. Otacon explains that that PAL key is a 3 in one key. It’s designed with a special Shaped Memory Alloy which allows the key to transform shape so that different discs within the key are readable by a disc scanner. I believe that’s correct, the MGS series is confusing. When in doubt, nano-machines did it. For those who are reading and don’t know what nano-machines are to the Metal Gear Solid franchise, they’re whatever you want them to be. It’s that bit from The Simpsons where Professor Frink asks a really specific question to Lucy Lawless about an episode of Xena where a really specific detail was wrong. And then she responds with this:

Simpsons wizards

Just replace wizard with nano-machines and you’re an expert on the Metal Gear Solid experience. Again, I must reiterate, I love the series for reasons like that.

Back to my PAL! So, this disc can transform and needs to transform for it to be used properly. How do you transform it? I hear you ask. Simple really, by severe changes in temperature. And by severe I mean Sweaty Betty or Chilly Willy. Rubbing the disc in your hands isn’t going to heat it enough and to cool it you can’t just seductively rub ice cubes on it like it’s Kim Basinger. Extreme temperatures are needed to get those 2 states and the 3rd state is just room temperate so that isn’t a problem. To get the key to cool enough you need to head to a freezer area of the facility and wait in that area for the PAL key to cool enough. Once it does, the icon for the item will change to a blue disc and you can then use it on the suitable computer. To increase the temperature of the disc sufficiently, you have to take Solid Snake to a furnace area and have him wait till the disc heats up. Once the disc is heated up, you must make your way back to the computers and input the disc into the correct disc drive. Sound like fun to do in a video game? Of course it is, everyone loves backtracking!

So where is my issue with this? Well, the existence of the PAL key is for emergencies. A trip to a freezer and then a furnace, does not sound like an emergency that is swift, and speed is usually what emergencies require. It’s not like a scientist can pop this PAL key into a microwave to heat it up. Have you ever put food in a microwave that had a small piece of aluminium foil attached to it? I have and I might as well have got the sparklers out and set up a bonfire. Then there is the case of the journey to and from the freezer and furnace. Solid Snake is a clone of Big Boss, the greatest soldier of all time. A high mark for fitness and stamina is required to earn that title. Him running to and from in a timely fashion I can accept. But a regular person? Unless they’ve got Usain Bolt in a lab coat, I don’t think they’re getting those discs anywhere sprightly. An average Joe scientist will be doing a run for 2 minutes, then with winded breath that becomes a jog for another 2 minutes and then a brisk power walk to the freezer. That doesn’t include the trip back or the furnace expedition. BOOM the nukes have detonated and the super mutants are being born.

Giant mechs that roar like a Bionicle T-Rex? Sure, I’ll bite. CD’s that require a hot water bottle and a slushie nearby? Yeah, OK Kojima, where are you hiding the glue? Anyway that’s my shower thought for the day. More than likely I’ll be returning to the MGS series in the future for Inventory Time but in the meantime feel free to check out my thoughts on The Legend Of Zelda’s Iron Boots. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Take it easy.

Inventory Time: Iron Boots, Ocarina Of Time

Recently I’ve been thinking of the usage of Iron Boots. Exciting life, I know. There are a lot of bizarre items in games and when you start thinking about their in world usage, you can be pondering for ages on the basics alone. In journalism you have the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why. We know the What and the Where of the heavy Iron Boots but the rest is a bit up in the air. Gaming isn’t factual but it is fun to speculate so today, I’m going to be guessing the Who and the Why of the Iron Boots.

Iron Boots
Imagine getting kicked by these!

Who

What kind of person requires the need to sink like a boulder? At first I thought for marine exploration or treasure diving but then the person still needs oxygen! I don’t know how long Hylians can hold their breath for but for the average human it’s about a minute. Perhaps the creator of the boots has strengthened their lung capacity enough to last longer than that. So let’s say 3 minutes. That 3 minutes still has to include the descent and ascent when underwater. By the time you touch the bottom of a lake you have to start thinking about ascending. Link had the Blue Tunic which allowed him to breathe under water like the Zora race. But the way to buy the Blue Tunic in the Zora Domain shop was blocked off by boulders which Link destroys with bombs. Boulders I imagine have been there for some time so I know just by that alone, that Hylians don’t visit the Zora domain often. You’d think garments that let you breathe underwater would be a popular item but there seems to be a race barrier in Hyrule. That’s another topic altogether though.

Zelda Tunic
You reckon that was their marketing campaign? They could have said it’ll help you breathe underwater but no…….you won’t drown!

So we have a marine explorer/biologist or even treasure diver as our main creator. Then you have the fact that the Iron Boots are found in an Ice Cavern within the Zora domain. I know my simple science and I’m well aware water can become ice and since a lot of Zora’s domain has frozen over that makes sense. But why are the Iron Boots in the Zora’s domain? Zoras can breathe underwater. I’m pretty sure they can anyway, they have gills and in Majora’s Mask when you become one, there is no oxygen gauge. My hypothesis is, either the Zoras created the Iron Boots or they took them from the creator as they believe water is their turf and not for Hylian meddling. That leads me to the Why!

Why

If we go by the idea that Hylians created the Iron Boots, the reason for this is kind of obvious. As humans we are constantly trying to explore the depths of oceans so I completely understand why Hylians would want to. But we have diving gear in real life! In Ocarina of Time I don’t remember diving gear. Correct me if I’m wrong though! So they have several minutes underwater tops. That’s enough to get a few samples or collect some fish. I would suggest that hiring Zoras would be a lot easier but like I said, race issues. I’m not going to mention the fact that the sheer holding of the Iron Boots should weigh you down but Link has magic pockets and so for arguments sake the rest of Hyrule has magic, weightless pockets too. That’s a discussion for another Inventory Time.

So the idea that the Zoras pinched the Iron Boots just seems mean! I know they’re quite a high class society in terms of how they appear and see themselves. They have a regal kind of quality. I won’t call them thieves and instead let’s think of a reason why Zoras would create Iron Boots for themselves. My main thought is for underwater construction or demolition. The Zoras live in a water domain and there is a lot of opportunity for housing in underwater spaces. I imagine most of us have been in a swimming pool and thrown a punch or tried to attempt Ryu’s Hurricane Kick from Street Fighter 2. Just me? Alright then, your loss. You feel like you’re in The Matrix but there’s very little power behind your actions. When you push against a wall underwater you can propel yourself quite easily, you see swimmers do it in the Olympics. It doesn’t require much strength to do that. If Zoras were building underwater, the simple act of pushing or swinging tools seems difficult. The Iron Boots would be a great benefit in this situation. It wouldn’t stop the strength decrease but with firm footing you can perform these actions easier and more effectively.

Zora's_Domain_(Ocarina_of_Time)

Do you want to know my dark theory? That’s rhetorical, of course you do. Brace yourself. Zora Mafia!

Zora Gangsta: ‘ey boss. That cheap Hylian skimped on his Tuna quota again.

Zora Gangsta Boss: Well I think it’s time for our friend Mr. Cheap Cheep Cheep to sleep with the fishes. And I don’t mean Princess Ruto’s slumber party.

Bam! Reusable cement shoes. Saves the Zora Mafia a fortune! Then after a few hours they just swim back down and retrieve the shoes. Ah, but then the body has no weight to keep it submerged…….maybe not the fool proof business venture I thought it was. I better cancel my Shark Tank appointment.

Anyway, thank you for reading my innate ramblings. No idea what I’m going to do next or even if I’m going to do more of this. I have a few more inventory based speculations in mind but we’ll see. Thanks for reading and sound off any theories you have on the Iron Boots in the comments.