The Angry Gamer 06.03.04 – Sluggish

You’ve gotta give Micro$oft credit for one thing; they brought over Metal Slug 3, well before the PS2 release. If that’s not a reason in and of itself to get an Xbox, I don’t know what is. Plus, Metal Slug 4 & 5 is on track for a release within the next year!

I know what some of you are saying. “But Metal Slug‘s not even 3D! It has crappy 16-bit graphics!” How many times do I have to tell you people?! Graphics mean dick. I’ve played games with horrendous shitty graphics, yet they beat the piss out of flash fluff like Final Fantasy X-2. (I’d settle for the Atari 5200 version of Pac-Man over that overrated trash any day.) It’s all about the gameplay, kids. And that is where the Metal Slug series eats the competition alive.

If you grew up during the 8-bit era, you were likely a fan of Konami’s Contra, which still ranks as one of the best run ‘n’ gun games ever made. The game had numerous sequels, some good, some bad. Meanwhile, in the early ’90s, SNK created a new game called Metal Slug for its NeoGeo arcade platform. It was similar to Contra in that you were a soldier fighting your way past plenty of enemies and fighting monstrous enemies. What really separated Metal Slug from the rest of the pack was the incredibly fluid animation and humor. Yes, you read that correctly…humor, in a game were gunning down hapless grunts was all in a day’s work.

If you ran in and got yourself shot to death, enemy soldiers would point at your corpse and laugh. Once you respawned, however, they’d scream and run for cover like sissy girls. Their screams of agony as they spewed forth much more blood than is found in the human body were a riot, too. Let us not forget the wacky boss designs, be it giant tanks that defy the laws of physics, or monstrous aircraft that magically manage to stay airborne. Finally, there’s aliens, and plenty of ’em. You can splatter those things all over the place, and watch their green innards slosh forth. Another amusing note is the random voicework in the game, like the Germanesque exclamations whenever you picked up a new weapon.

It doesn’t end there. There’s all manner of vehicles you can jump into and pilot, from Harrier jets to cannon-toting camels to the Metal Slug itself, a heavily-armored small tank. Unlike your character, who bites it with one shot, vehicles have a separate power meter, which comes in very handy when you’re overrun with enemy troops. Not to mention the fact that the vehicles’ firepower is vastly superior to your own.

Metal Slug has naturally expanded in the years since its inception, with five arcade sequels, console ports, two fantastic portable versions on SNK’s NeoGeo Pocket Color console, and an upcoming Metal Slug Advance for the GBA. There’s been plenty of imitators, too, like CT Special Forces and even Lilo & Stitch on the GBA (which also had gameplay elements from Gyruss and Flashback)! A series like this is definitely meant to be played in the arcades, but hey, take what you can get! Metal Slug is not something to be missed; put the first-person shooters down, and get yourself some real shooting action.