ACA NeoGeo: Metal Slug Review
Metal Slug's speed, challenge, and overall fun, as well as the marvellously crafted cartoony visuals that come along with it, have not lost their charm after all these years. Sure, this is not as "complex" as the next in line, but it's still enjoyable and highly recommended for all retro-loving Switch owners.
Imagine if Super Nintendo had a powered-up “Pro” version, and some of the most talented 2D artists were to design a game for it. What would it look like? The answer is: like Metal Slug. This is simply one the most beautiful games in existence. It’s not so much because of its unique character – in fact, it’s just another action title with Nazi-like scum to shoot and a badass hero in the centre of it all. Instead, it’s the level of detail at hand. Every single background, and every single sprite, be it a giant machine of death, or a simple soldier getting some shuteye, looks fantastic here, something that helps with making Metal Slug a video game that’s impossible to become bored of looking at.
However… visuals? Bah! The meat here is the action, and, boy, does this deliver on that part. The basic concept is this: pistol at hand, enemies on the right, typical horizontal run-and-gun action. The main character can pick up additional weaponry, throw grenades, and even board the titular Metal Slug, which is a pretty fancy piece of armoured tech that can shoot enemies, as well as jump around.
Simple, right? Well, while not the most in-depth of action games, and while all the shooting can get a bit repetitive after a while, make no mistake, this is great fun. That has a lot to do with the never-a-dull-moment approach it has when it comes to the gunplay, as each step provides a different challenge, meaning that, in a matter of five or so minutes, the player will get to battle with soldiers, helicopters, tanks, mini-bosses, and all sorts of goodies.
It can get repetitive, though – and the monotonous groans and screams of defeated soldiers, as well as the subpar OST doesn’t help much, or maybe the author of this review is spoiled by Konami. Of course, this being an arcade game, it is “supposed” to be a tad repetitive… as well as extremely challenging. Yes, Metal Slug is a typical coin-muncher that gets increasingly tougher with each step, with the last two (out of six) levels throwing an endless, and almost unpredictable, barrage of enemies towards the protagonist.
Being an arcade title, of course, means that it’s all about trying to survive, as well as gather lots of points to get as close to the top of that high score list. Finding hostages helps a lot with that, with those unfortunate fellows (almost the secondary mascots of the franchise) providing additional items, as well as tons of fun, as some are hidden in some pretty hard to find spots, offering some sort of a “side-quest” to keep you company. Needless to say, though, that Metal Slug is at its best when played along with a friend.
No need to grab a bag full of pennies and head over to the nearest arcades, as the Nintendo Switch provides the means to play this the traditional way, and even in tabletop mode… although it’s a bit of a hassle to set up the Joy-Con whenever two people want to play, as the game does not offer an easy way around that.
Additionally, this includes the same things that all ACA NeoGeo releases have, like the ability to create a save state, change several gameplay and audio-visuals settings, as well as the chance to play some additional modes. Of course, like the rest in the series, this is nothing but a straight up port of the original, with no true additional bells and whistles, although that doesn’t make this less of a must-buy for retro fans, and not only.
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