The classic Metal Gear theme song has stayed fairly thematically consistent throughout each iteration of the Konami franchise -- and fans noticed its absence from the latest installment, Metal Gear Solid 4.
In an interview with print magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly, longtime series composer Norihiko Hibino explains why the familiar tune was left out of series creator Hideo Kojima's grand finale for Solid Snake:
"The truth is, Konami [had legal problems with] Russian composers who said we stole their music," Hibino told EGM.
A video on YouTube appears to show some Russian-speaking men presenting Hideo Kojima with a music recording whose melody bears a noticeable likeness to the Metal Gear Solid series theme. Kojima initially smiles, as if he believes he's being offered a cover rendition.
The men shown in the video then explain to an apparently perplexed Kojima that the tune they're playing is actually a classical composition described as a "soundtrack to Pushkin's verses" by Russian composer Georgy Sviridov.
They also say that the composition, part of a choral concerto called 'Pushkin's Garland' written in 1979 -- over a full decade before the first Metal Gear game debuted.
The classic Metal Gear Solid theme is credited to Konami composer Tappi "TAPPY" Iwase, who debuted it in 1998 when the Solid series began. The franchise took increasing stylistic liberty with the theme tune over its iterations, and while wholly absent from MGS4, the song made only a brief background appearance in MGS 3.
The incarnation largely best-known to fans appeared in MGS2, and while there are a few resemblances in elements of Sviridov's melody and thematic structure, it's hard to draw a definitive conclusion as to whether a true derivation is present.
Either way, Hibino told EGM that, to avoid legal issues, Konami decided not to use the familiar theme in Metal Gear Solid 4:
"They didn't [steal their music], actually. But Konami was too sensitive about the situation and just decided not to use that music in the game," he said.