Metal Slug 3


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 7

SNK's Neo Geo home and arcade console will gracefully leave gamers this July with the release of Samurai Shodown V Special, a sequel to my personal favorite game of all time. The latest game in the series and final game to ever appear on the console will run gamers over $350. That's three hundred and fifty dollars. One game....$350. This is why it’s just awesome to get ports like this on cheaper and much more affordable consoles, stuff normal mainstream gamers can afford. Metal Slug 3 is widely regarded as the best of the series, and though I'm not sure I completely agree with that, it's still one of the greatest action games ever conceived. Shame the port has some issues that keep from complete greatness.

Metal Slug is an ADD patient's dream. Golden rule: If you go a minute without something blowing up, you’re doing something wrong. This is the ultimate twitch video game allowing you select from 4 separate characters (though all with the same abilities) and blast your way through five levels of absolute mayhem (with or without friend). Along the way you'll fight giant crabs, aliens, enemy soldiers, machines that fill up the screen, and zombies all in glorious 2-D. No need to worry about an inconsistent camera here.

The game's title comes from various machines you can enter into during the gameplay. From submarines to planes (a few exclusive to this port), you'll pilot it all. Oh, you may also come across an elephant or ostrich with guns attached to it. Yeah, it's goofy, but the sense of humor programmed into this one is uncanny.

Power-ups come in various forms and are usually received from rescued hostages. You'll get a nice variety of weapons from rapid-fire machine guns, shotguns, and flamethrowers. There are plenty of other extras as well, such as gold and food. Eat too much and you'll not only slow down, but also become grossly overweight in the process. It can be frustrating, but when it's this funny, you probably won't care.

Though you'll certainly hear plenty of people talking about how this one looks outdated, these people simply can't appreciate the work that goes into something like this. An entire review could easily be written simply about the stunning variety and small details crammed into this one. By far the best looking animation is when you turn into a zombie (by getting puked on of course). Press the bomb button and watch your player regurgitate and entire bodies worth of blood. The animation rivals the best 3-D games can offer, only here every single frame was drawn by hand. Though you'll only have a few opportunities, try and take it slow through a few segments and just watch everything that goes on in one screen and then you'll understand why this is such a lost art. Sadly (though it certainly wasn't expected), the game doesn't run in progressive scan for HDTV owners.

The music here is superb, remixed from the original Neo Geo tracks and a few new ones tossed in as well. The classic Metal Slug theme is alive and well, coming through gloriously thanks to the added digital power of the 'Box. The explosions could rip a sub-woofer apart and the hilarious cries of dying enemies are priceless. All the sound effects are crystal clear so you'll experience every single blast from your gun in full.

There are a few extras to add life to your purchase, though not too much to keep inside the console for an extended period. A few extra modes including a cool mass attack on the good guys is a blast since you play from the enemies perspective. There's also an innovative take on the "overweight" problem mentioned before. You’re in a race to garble down food to become the fattest player of the group. Also, one you've completed them, each level can be tackled individually.

The game is, of course, not perfect. The difficulty level will overwhelm many players, especially those unaccustomed to 2-D gameplay. Nearly all the slowdown from the Neo Geo rendition has been removed meaning your reaction times need to be super sharp. Those more used to the series will probably find this one a bit easier, though due to a design issue, still harder than the original.

Continuing means you go all the way back to the start of the stage.....ALL the way back. I'm not a total expert, but I'm pretty sure this game features the longest final level of any video game ever created. Running through it without stopping will take at least 20-25 minutes at best. Imagine dying at the final screen only to be sent back to the starting line. It's utterly infuriating and though it was probably a change made to extend the life of the game, it comes off as an annoyance (and certainly not a small one). The arcade game let you pick up right were you died so a change is probably better for the home market, but sending the player even halfway back would be at least be acceptable.

The XBox Live component is pretty much wasted here with only scoreboard support. Nope, you have no chance of playing through the game with some kid in Brazil online. The only other minor issues involve the control. The XBox doesn't exactly have the greatest D-pad in the world so you may make a few unintended moves once in a while. Also, while it's a series trademark, not being able to shoot diagonally is annoying. Oh, and would it kill someone to toss in some auto-fire support? I'm getting carpal tunnel twenty years earlier than intended.

Metal Slug is, for all intents and purposes, the ultimate action-shooter. The entire series is pretty much flawless. Though there are some issues here, this is a great introduction to the beloved series and you'll lose almost nothing in the port (and at only a quarter of the price). I see little reason why they couldn't have included some of the other games in the series on this disc (including the most recent 5th sequel) since there has to be plenty of room left. Hopefully, SNK Playmore has even bigger plans for these games and may be released at a later date. Until then, kiddies, prepare for a very harsh history lesson about a time when games were simpler and a whole lot more enjoyable to just about anyone.


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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 08:38 PM