Running and gunning while taking out relentless enemy soldiers is a recipe for retro fun. The original Metal Slug is a classic arcade game that started a fantastic franchise but has it since been eclipsed by its incredible sequels?
Metal Slug has you and a friend control Marco and Tarma who are on a mission to put an end to the maniacal dictator General Morden. At its core, it's a very basic 2D cooperative run 'n' gun shooter where you traverse crazy action-packed stages while shooting, throwing grenades, and doing some simple platforming. You'll also collect a wide assortment of weaponry although the fact that you lose a weapon after you perish from a one-hit kill or as soon as it's out of ammo means that you probably won't be hanging on to each piece for very long. Whether it's a rocket launcher, heavy machine gun, or flamethrower; firing these additional weapons is a ton of fun. Aside from the basics, you'll also rescue prisoners of war (which will result in a bonus item) and can drive around in the titular Metal Slugs whenever you come across an unmanned one. It's such an enjoyable gameplay premise that'll make you and a pal grin from ear to ear as you wreak havoc on the battlefield.
To amplify the crazy gameplay, the visuals and music are superb. To this day, Metal Slug's graphics remain some of the best 2D visuals in gaming history. The character animations, amount of detail, and gorgeous environments pop off the screen. Meanwhile, the triumphant soundtrack will make you feel like marching into war. Another aspect that Metal Slug has excelled at ever since this first installment is its off-the-wall sense of humour. You'll witness soldiers chatting to each other then screaming once you come storming into their field of vision as well as giant fish swallowing you up whole if you accidentally slip into a certain body of water. To top all this off, the stage designs are constantly exciting and mix up the gameplay as you go from running and gunning to manning a turret, ascending a frozen mountain, blowing up structures, and fighting a variety of rewarding bosses. It's fun in every sense of the word.
This ACA NeoGeo iteration of Metal Slug includes an assortment of modes to choose upon starting a new game. First of all, you can choose between the Japanese and English versions and as far as I know, the only difference is that the former features blood. Additionally, you can challenge Caravan mode which tests how high of a score you can get within five minutes and Hi Score mode without a time limit. These modes are fantastic options that any hardcore Metal Slug fan will whole-heartedly appreciate.
When it comes to downsides, Metal Slug unfortunately has a few. Just like many games in the series, this suffers from severe slowdown at a few hectic points throughout the campaign. Considering it's now running on a modern console, I wish there was an option to toggle how well it performs. Moving on, considering this is the first title in the series, many features that were introduced later in the sequels are absent and it really shows considering how many Metal Slug games are now available. For example, only having two characters and being forced to play through a very linear campaign feel limiting. Along these same lines, the original Metal Slug doesn't feature as many secrets and collectibles so the replay incentives are almost non-existent. That is, unless you love aiming for that high score.
ACA NeoGeo: Metal Slug is a wonderful package that both fans and series newbies can appreciate. With incredible gameplay set in a fun-filled world, what's not to love about this cooperative arcade classic?
- + Super-fun cooperative running and gunning
- + Amazing music, visuals, and sense of humour as well as incredible stage design
- + Additional modes are nifty inclusions
- - A couple parts have severe slowdown
- - Lack of cool features that were introduced later in the series
- - Almost no replay incentives