This review was originally published in Edge issue 38, November 1996
Green Beret was great fun ten years ago, but surely a similar game could not impress today’s 3D-obsessed gamer? Joining the old school of sprite-heavy Neo-Geo games comes Metal Slug, a home version of the SNK coin-op shoot ’em up
The Eighties: a time when true 3D graphics were the stuff of dreams, when polygons were just things your maths teacher talked about, and when the 2D horizontal shoot ’em up was firmly in its heyday. Now, thanks to SNK’s trusty six-year-old trusty sprite-shunting technology and third-party developer Nazca, Metal Slug is here, boasting six stages of retro shoot ’em up chaos and a host of amusing touches.
In fact, Metal Slug is an addictive and totally hectic game which, with every scroll of the screen, brings in some new enemy or graphical set-piece to keep the player plugging away. In terms of staple shoot ’em up features, Slug has the inevitable list of weapon power-ups, including a heavy machine gun, a rocket launcher and a great flamethrower. There’s also a healthy arsenal of different enemies: soldiers, tanks, motorcyclists, helicopters, and even biplanes and frogmen.
A few nice touches have been carefully nicked from other games and then expanded on. The player has to free hostages as in Commando, the difference being that here they give you weapons. You can also get in a tank, à la Ikari Warriors, but this one can jump and has power-ups ( incidentally, the twoplayer option in Metal Slug is also a tremendous laugh – as it was in IW). Finally, and most significantly, Metal Slug has much in the way of humour. For example, enemy soldiers often sit around talking or cooking, but when they spot the player, they leap up, scream, and run away. It’s a great touch which ensures that you’re always checking new scenes for comic moments.
As is often the case with Neo-Geo games, though, Metal Slug ultimately suffers from its coin-op origins in that it only takes a few hours to complete. This is a shame, as there are plenty of great ideas and some beautiful scenery in the game. Ultimately, though, Metal Slug is an imaginative, humorous and enjoyable step back into the past – a brief glimpse at the way things used to be. Brief, unfortunately, being the operative word.
Six out of ten