The late science fiction writer Project Itoh (real name Satoshi Itoh) was a close friend of Hideo Kojima. Itoh is famous among Metal Gear fans for writing the novel adaption of MGS4. One of Itoh’s earliest works was a fan fiction short story based off of Kojima’s acclaimed 1988 adventure game Snatcher. This later served as the basis for Itoh’s own original novel Genocidal Organ.
Hideo Kojima met Itoh at the Spring 1998 Tokyo Game Show while promoting MGS1. He was immediately stricken at Itoh’s passion for his games claiming in the essay On Project Itoh, "Before that moment, I’d never met a fan who so loved Metal Gear Solid, and I remember being moved.”
The two would exchange correspondence in the years to follow, becoming close friends. Kojima claimed that Itoh was one of the few people who truly understood the themes of his games like Policecnauts, Metal Gear Solid, and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
In 2001, Itoh was frequently hospitalized due to cancer. When Kojima first heard of the news, he immediately rushed over to where Itoh was currently being treated and presented to him the first footage of MGS2. It was against Konami company policy to show any in-development material to outsiders, but Kojima wanted to do all he could for his sick friend. After viewing the footage, Itoh said to Kojima:
"I won’t die until you finish this game."
Itoh’s condition seemingly improved after several operations, and he was able to live to see the release of MGS2, MGS3, and MGS4. Having read Genocidal Organ and drawing comparisons to the series, Kojima specifically asked Itoh to pen the adaption of MGS4. It was a daunting task due to the dense nature of the game (as most MGS fans know), but he cautiously accepted the offer. Kojima approved such changes such as the removal of the Beauty and the Beast Unit and telling the story from Otacon’s perspective. The final result was a labor of love, and Kojima immensely praised the adaption of being, “Project Itoh’s [own] Metal Gear Solid.”
Tragedy would come in February 2009. Like what had occurred 8 years before, Itoh was once again hospitalized and quickly losing his battle against cancer. Kojima was once again at his side, and divulged to him the details of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Nothing had ever been revealed about Peace Walker outside of the company, so as with MGS2, Itoh was the first person to ever hear about the game. Kojima told Itoh about the narrative’s themes of nuclear deterrence and the complex political subtext. He even asked Itoh to write an adaption combining MGS3 and Peace Walker into a single novel. And just like before, Itoh said to him:
"I won’t give up until you’re done."
Unfortunately, Itoh was unable to keep that promise and passed away on March 20, 2009. He was 34.
Project Itoh’s works have been translated into English, with the MGS4 adaption having been released overseas posthumously in 2012. Hideo Kojima dedicated Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker to him in the credits.