THE METAL SLUG SERIES has been around for well over a decade and a half now, and has racked up quite a following. I’m not exactly included in that group, but I can completely understand the charm of the original; run from left to right shooting everything in your path, collect bigger and badder weaponry, rescue prisoners of war and destroy sizable bosses. It’s a winning formula. Chuck that into an arcade machine, crank up the diffi culty, and you’ll be all out of 20-cent pieces with the want of more in no time.
While this is a perfect money-making idea for an arcade title, it doesn’t feel as satisfying in console form. Not only has the game barely changed visually since its inception in 1996 – that means low-res sprites and a stretched image to fit your widescreen television – but neither has the gameplay. This is a brave move by SNK, and one followed only by Capcom with the Megaman series. While many think of Metal Slug in a fond “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” light, I can’t help but think of the 59 continues (each with three lives) I lost on situations that I couldn’t possibly have escaped. Boss fights have patterns you can’t figure out without already having played through the game before, and some instances will see the screen completely over-run with bullets and other such deathly projectiles.
Even on easy mode you will no doubt lose hundreds of lives and use countless continues. At the end of the day, though, this game is all about replaying it – over and over, with friends and over Xbox LIVE – to try to best your last time/lives lost/POW rescued achievements. But with a decidedly small community on Xbox LIVE and a relatively unchanged gameplay formula, it becomes a hard title to recommend. Fans only need apply here.