Sunday 24 May 2015

Metal Slug 1st Mission (Neo Geo Pocket Color review)

Developer: Ukiyotei Company
Publisher: SNK
Released: 1999

Metal Slug 1st Mission is a run and gun game and the first portable entry in the series.

It consists of 17 levels and the gameplay is similar to its big brothers on the Neo Geo consoles. You can fire weapons by pressing the A button and jump using B. To change a weapon you need to press Option at the top of the system; it's a bit awkward having the buttons so spaced out but you get used to it. The amount of variety in this tiny cartridge is staggering. Take just the very first mission as an example - one minute you're running along shooting everything in sight; the next you take control of an armoured tank that can fire in all directions before piloting an aeroplane with homing missiles. None of this even takes into account the gigantic helicopter boss you need to beat at the end of the stage! You'll eventually move on to sections where you're parachuting while avoiding incoming fire and if you die in some levels you'll be taken to a Prison Camp where you need to escape with only a knife. There's tons of unique locales and interestingly there's no way to see all 17 levels in one playthrough; this is because your actions dictate which ones you see. For example, if you crash during the Slug Flyer section of Mission 1 you'll eventually be taken straight to Mission 7. This adds replayability and you'll want to beat the game several times to see all the different levels. There's also a save game facility and even an extra character to unlock. The graphics are beautiful with rich colours, fantastic animation and hardly any slowdown. The music has been expertly ported across from the console titles and while the sound effects are a bit weak they get the job done.

Metal Slug 1st Mission is one of the best handheld games ever created and the developers did an amazing job porting an authentic experience across from the consoles. If you only ever try one game on the Neo Geo Pocket Color make it this one!

Random trivia: There was also a sequel released on the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 2000 called Metal Slug 2nd Mission.

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