Metal Slug 3
Slugging it out with the next retro re-make.
The only memory I have of the NeoGeo system is of those horrifically expensive cartridges that were not only out of my price range as a youngster, but would probably have led me to green-eyed murder had I known anyone who actually owned one. Still, with the revival of retro gaming there's been no shortage of ports of old arcade classics, and Metal Slug 3 is next to step up for a modern day appraisal.
As befits a Metal Slug game, the story is ridiculous and seems to hinge first and foremost around storming a series of side-scrolling environments as one of four playable characters, battling gigantic insects and swarms of undead, while rescuing prisoners and seeing off each stage's end-boss. There are five different areas in the game from lush jungle, to undead graveyards and deserts.
If you're looking for serious firepower in your gameplay, then Metal Slug 3 has it in spades, with mortar grenades, homing missiles, and a whole armory of high-caliber guns to take somebody's eye out with. Better yet, if you're infected by the poisonous bile of the undead, you undergo a temporary metamorphosis into a zombie, spewing molten vomit with a press of the special fire button. Glorious.
While it's not the longest arcade campaign in the world, you can take on the missions one at a time for a new attempt at a high score. It's a nice recognition of the need for bite-sized gaming on mobiles, and means that Metal Slug 3 provides a gaming session for all occasions. If you're really pressed for time, you can even watch replays of your most glorious invasions. Bluetooth multiplayer rounds off the game modes.
There's a lot of love in the options settings too. If you don't like how the buttons sit upon the screen, then you can move them around to suit your personal taste. Over at the gallery you can gaze over some gorgeous concept artwork, and for real old-school authenticity you can even add scan-lines to the gamescreen when taking on the fight.
But for all of its over-the-top violence, frantic action and loving recreation, this version of Metal Slug is also a little unfair. The virtual joystick does a pretty poor job all in all, and fun though it is to smash through zombies and bulging scorpions, ride robotic suits, and just generally gorge yourself on the disgusting array of blood-spattering violence, your deaths more often than not are as unfair as they are unwelcome.
For its attention to detail, nostalgia and unashamedly daft story, Metal Gun delivers. It's a shame that it's let down in the final analysis by a rather frustrating joystick, but we still had fun with it, although perhaps not enough to justify the $6.99 price tag.
What's Hot: A lot of love has gone into porting this title and there's some great attention to detail.
What's Not: The virtual joystick is lacking in precision and responsiveness.