Hideo Kojima may have predicted his clash with Konami more than a year before the publisher erased the Metal Gear Solid creator's name from his next game.
That's the theory put forward by YouTube user timesplitter88, who revisited last year's bite-sized prequel to Metal Gear Solid 5, Ground Zeroes, and found a highly suggestive Easter egg in one of the title's side missions.
The Dj vu mission sees Ground Zeroes protagonist Venom Snake trotting around the game's map in order to collect nostalgic photographs from the very first game in the series, 1998's Metal Gear Solid.
Among the many references to entries throughout the franchise are the logos to every Metal Gear title, including non-Solid predecessors Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, which are painted on various objects and buildings.
If the player picks up a certain weapon and aims it at the logos, they vanish, leaving support character Kaz to comment upon their disappearance.
This seems specifically pointed towards the core titles directed by Kojima too. When the player goes to erase the logo for Metal Gear Ac!d 2, which Kojima didn't play a lead role in, Kaz flippantly dismisses it.
Looks like that's nothing special,” he says.
But when every logo has been eradicated, Kaz tells Snake: You did it. You erased all the markings. But every one of them will always be with you.”
He also observes: You might be able to erase the markings, but the memories will never disappear..."
It's an eerily poignant statement, given the stealthy removal of Kojima's name from upcoming (and potentially final) instalment Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. ‘A Hideo Kojima game' has been the tagline on every Metal Gear Solid title since 2001's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
The logo of Kojima's development studio, Kojima Productions, has also been removed from the Phantom Pain cover. It, too, makes an appearance in Ground Zeroes, with players able to shine a special spotlight at a wall to make it appear.
Upon the reveal, Kaz again comments: "What does that mean? There's got to be a reason that's there."
It could be nothing, but given Kojima's notoriety for breaking the fourth wall and his habit of nodding so severely towards his past games it's a wonder his head remains attached to his neck, it could certainly be something, too.
Take a look at the secret below and see what you think: