Metal Slug 4/5
The next generation of game consoles promises us more realistic graphics, high definition video, and amazing audio. Blu-ray discs (which will be used in Sony’s PS3) hold 25 gigs per layer. Videogames of the future will be more realistic, more in depth, and more robust than ever before, featuring improved advanced intelligence, more interactive gaming and more features than ever before — which makes it amazing that the run and gun Neo Geo game Metal Slug (1996) continues to appear on gamers’ “favorite games” lists everywhere.
Metal Slug is a 2D side-scrolling shoot-em-up series that features hand-drawn graphics, a wicked sense of humor, a lot of explosions and a lot more enemies. Fans of the series are extremely loyal. Shelling out the cash for a Neo Geo MVS arcade cabinet to play Metal Slug is not uncommon among fans. In fact, it’s often seen as “the cheaper route” to playing the original Metal Slug at home. A Metal Slug 1 cartridge for Neo Geo’s own AES system can cost $2,000 or more!
Despite being a sure-fire winner in the sales department, the six game Metal Slug series (1, 2, X, 3, 4, and 5) have had a difficult time finding their way to anything other than Neo Geo consoles. US fans wanting to play the original games at home have their choice between Metal Slug X (Playstation) and Metal Slug 3 (Xbox). Handheld gamers have the additional choices of Metal Slug Advance (Gameboy Advance) and Metal Slug Missions 1 and 2 (Neo-Geo Pocket Color). Import gamers have it slightly better, with Metal Slug 1 (Sega Saturn/Japan only) and Metal Slug 3 and 4 (PS2/Japan only) at their disposal. Now, five years after the console’s debut, SNK has finally ported Metal Slug 4 and 5 to the Playstation 2. Woo hoo!
For those completely unfamiliar with the series, Metal Slug games are all about running, shooting, and blowing up as many nouns (people, places and things) as possible. Shooting as fast as possible by button mashing pays off far greater than thinking ahead or using any sort of strategy. From rifles to lasers to grenades, tanks, planes, and just about anything else you can imagine that shoots or explodes, Metal Slug dishes out the action faster than you can pump quarters into it. Metal Slug’s “claim to fame” (other than its frantic action) is its hand-drawn graphics, which add a ton of detail and often humor into the game.
Metal Slug 4 is a mixed blessing for fans of the series. While the PS2 version game plays identical to its arcade counterpart, most fans of the series aren’t big fans of Metal Slug 4. Many of the game’s graphics and backgrounds were recycled from older Slugs. Metal Slug 5, however, returns to the series’ roots. Just like their arcade counterparts, both Metal Slugs support co-op play, so that you and a friend can co-blow your way through the games.
And speaking of blowing your way through the games … it shouldn’t take you long. With an unlimited amount of continues, even newcomers to the series can blast their way through either of these games in under an hour – which is okay for an arcade game, but not for a full-priced home console game. It’s the same challenge that’s been facing quarter-suckers since Gauntlet first appeared on a home console. If you can continue indefinitely, endurance becomes more valuable than skill in finishing the game.
While old-school gamers and fans of the series will no doubt be thrilled to finally get to play Metal Slug 4 and 5 on their PS2’s, kids who have grown up on polygons and CD-based games may have a hard time seeing what all the fuss is about. Both groups may wonder why this double-disc release doesn’t include ALL the Metal Slug games, which would help justify the package’s $40 MSRP.