Sunday 13 March 2016

Metal Slug (Neo Geo CD review)

Developer: Nazca Corporation
Publisher: SNK
Released: 1996

Metal Slug is a run 'n' gun game that was ported to the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1997.

It consists of two modes, the main one being Arcade Mission which has six levels. Your standard attacks include a pistol, knife and grenades but rescuing prisoners rewards you with additional weapons such as a Shotgun and a Flame Thrower. Each level is short but challenging as you're outnumbered by heavily armed enemies at every turn. Most of the levels are side-scrolling and at certain points you can jump into a huge tank and fire off bullets in all directions which is very satisfying! Level 3 changes things up and includes a vertically-scrolling area with some tricky platforming. It's a nice change of pace while reminding me of the Waterfall level in Contra (1988, NES). The final mission is awesome and sees you boarding a ship and fending off enemies and planes while heading for the shore. You're constantly kept on your toes with the impressive amount of carnage on screen and there's lots of satisfying explosions with no obvious signs of slowdown. Unlike the PS1 port there's no mid-level loading and this lack of interruption is a huge benefit as it allows you to engross yourself further into the action. The animations and backgrounds are spectacular with tons of parallax scrolling, nice sprite scaling and heavily detailed scenery. Combat School mode has two options, the first being Pin Point which challenges you to complete missions with just three lives. Survival is the same except you only have one life to rack up as many kilometres as possible. They're both okay but nothing too exciting or different. This version is missing the Story mode mini-games from the PS1 port but it's no real loss.
Metal Slug is an excellent run 'n' gun game with tight controls, lots of weapon variety and superb level design. The fact that there's no mid-level loading makes it a much more immersive experience and overall this is one of the best examples of the genre you'll find on any system.
Random trivia: The game was ported to iOS and Android devices in 2012.

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