Metal Slug Anthology
Seven(!!!) Metal Slug classics on one UMD. What more do you need to know?
It's pretty interesting how SNK's Metal Slug games have carved out a niche all their own. The series seemed like an homage to Konami's Contra games at first, but as it continued on, it gathered a comfortable feeling all its own. Soon, it began attracting fans around the world, even those eager enough to plunk down $200+ for the latest Neo Geo cartridge bearing the Metal Slug name. Fortunately, gamers now have a much more affordable option to get their Metal Slug goodness, courtesy of a new Anthology from SNK that covers most of the bases...but doesn't quite reach stellar perfection.
Metal Slug Anthology features seven Metal Slugs in all, including the initial six in the series as well as the "outcast" Metal Slug X game that originally appeared on the PlayStation a while back. Each of the games put you in control of a gun-toting, grenade-throwing soldier out to stop a vicious army single-handedly. Of course, someone COULD call in for back-up, but what the hell would be the fun in that? Along the way, the soldier finds support from rescued hostages, including additional weapons that range from homing missiles to a shotgun to fruit and other items to add points. Players can also locate additional vehicles, including the Metal Slug tank, a well-armed donkey, and a monkey with a knack for firing a gun. Definitely not Curious George.
The games look pretty true to their arcade counterparts. The hand-drawn animation remains a delight, even in the latest chapters of the series, and the sound packs it in with war-themed music, small voice bits, and plenty of violent effects. The gameplay for each game stays right on target, not losing its focus on the all-out shooting action. Some games are tougher than others, but each one has infinite continues, making it easy to finish them all up in a breezy afternoon.
Along with the seven games, players can also unlock a bevy of extras, including galleries and other bonus goodies dedicated to the hardcore Metal Slug fan. If that's not enough, players can also team up for some awesome two-player action, shooting competitively at enemies to see who can bolster the higher score. The AdHoc connection works pretty good, although two copies of the game are required.
Not all is perfect with Metal Slug, however. The game runs into a few visual quirks here and there, along with big-time loading issues. Not only does the game take its sweet time loading up a level from within the game, but it actually stops at times to load up sections of the level while you're in it. It's not an entirely new problem- Metal Slug did the same thing back when it was on the Sony PlayStation. But it's kind of bothersome that SNK didn't do some more programming work to get around the problem. After all, it is only 2-D.
But never mind that. If you have some patience on your side, you'll find Metal Slug Anthology a welcome addition to your classic game library. It's a phenomenal value, with $1400 worth of Neo-Geo arcade bliss in a $40 package, along with a few extras and two-player compatibility. The fact that the games are (mostly) arcade perfect doesn't hurt either. But this just leaves the question of what will happen with future Metal Slug releases...I'm sure 7 or 8 are just around the corner. Oh well, let's worry about it later, hop on a gun-toting burro, and kill us some enemy soldiers.
What's Hot: Seven great Metal Slug games in one package; old-school goodness galore.
What's Not: Loading can be extreme; analog control doesn't always work the greatest.