Metal Slug Neo-Geo CD cover
|Developer(s)||Nazca Corporation, Irem (up to 1999)|
|Genre(s)||Run and gun|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, 2 player Co-op|
|Arcade system||Neo Geo (193 Mbit cartridge)|
|Display||Raster, 304 x 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors|
Metal Slug (メタルスラッグ Metaru Suraggu?) is a run and gun video game developed by Nazca Corporation and published by SNK. It was originally released in 1996 for the Neo Geo MVS arcade platform. The game is widely known for its sense of humor, fluid hand-drawn animation, and fast paced two-player action. It is the first title in the Metal Slug series. It has been ported to the Neo Geo CD, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Virtual Console, PlayStation Network, iOS, Android and Neo Geo X, and to the Wii, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2 (as part of the Metal Slug Anthology).
Gameplay is very basic; the player(s) must shoot constantly at a continual stream of enemies in order to reach the end of each level. At this point, the player confronts a boss, who is usually considerably larger and tougher than regular enemies. On the way through each level, the player can find numerous weapon upgrades and "Metal Slug" tanks. The tank is known as the SV-001 ("SV" stands for Super Vehicle), which not only increases the player's offense, but considerably adds to their defense.
In addition to shooting, the player can also perform melee attacks by using a knife. The player does not die simply by coming into contact with enemies, and correspondingly, many of the enemy troops also have melee attacks. Much of the game's scenery is also destructible, and occasionally, this reveals extra items or power-ups, although most of the time it simply results in collateral damage.
During the course of a level, the player also encounters POWs, who, if freed, offer the player bonuses in the form of random items or weapons. At the end of each level, the player receives a scoring bonus based on the number of freed POWs. If the player dies before the end of the level, the tally of freed POWs reverts to zero.
There are a total of six levels, in locations such as forests, garrisoned cities, snowy mountain valleys, canyons, and military bases. The vast majority of enemies are soldiers equipped with weaponry befitting their specific role. There are also several mechanized enemies, such as tanks, mobile artillery, aircraft, armored personnel carriers and technicals. Much of the game's humor comes from how the enemies are depicted; the player often encounters them as they are sunbathing, roasting food over a fire, or simply conversing amongst themselves. They also tend to scream loudly if they see the player, and often try to run away.
The evil General Morden and his rebel army has launched a coup d'état on the world's governments, and all attempts by the armies of the various countries to curtail his growing power fail. His most recent attack has given him access to a new form of all-terrain combat tank dubbed "Metal Slug". In a last effort to stop Morden, Cpt. Marco Rossi and Lt. Tarma Roving of the Peregrine Falcon Strike Force are sent to locate and eliminate his powerbase, as well as reclaim or destroy any Metal Slugs they can find so as to keep the technology out of Morden's hands. After battling their way through hoards of Morden's soldiers, the duo eventually face off against Morden himself, in a heavily armored helicopter. After defeating the helicopter and killing Morden, they destroy his base of operations. In an epilogue, one of Morden's men is shown throwing a paper airplane from a cliff face. As the credits roll, the plane flies across the various levels of the game,from the destroyed Metal Slugs on the forest and the city where a woman grieves for her slain lover who is a Rebel Army member before disappearing into outer space.
Originally, Metal Slug was available on the Neo-Geo MVS arcade system and AES home entertainment system. Later, a Neo Geo CD version of the game was produced, featuring a "Combat School" mode that allowed the player to revisit previously-played stages, but with new mission objectives.
In 1997, Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions were released, but only in Japan. The Saturn version was available in two different versions; 1.002 and 1.005, which included some minor bug fixes. The PlayStation version is currently distributed by SNK Playmore as a re-release version. Both ports feature the Combat School from the Neo Geo CD version, while the PlayStation version also features a new game mode called "Another Story", which consists of a series of plot-based mini-games.
In 2006, Metal Slug Anthology (titled Metal Slug Complete in Japan) was released for the Wii, PlayStation 2 and PSP. This compilation includes the original Metal Slug, and all of its arcade sequels (including Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X) up to Metal Slug 6. The games are emulated versions of the originals, with none of the additional game modes or content introduced in the other home versions.
Metal Slug is also available on GameTap, with a two-player online option. In 2008, it was released on the Wii's Virtual Console, and was included as part of SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 for the Wii, PlayStation 2, and PSP.
Metal Slug is also included as one of the 20 pre-loaded games on the Neo Geo X console.
Upon its initial appearance, Metal Slug received extremely positive reviews. Many of the subsequent ports and re-releases have received mixed reviews. For example, the iOS version holds an aggregate score of 68.33% on GameRankings, based on three reviews.
When the game was released on the Virtual Console in 2008, IGN's Lucas M. Thomas scored it 8.5 out of 10, and awarding it an "Editor's Choice" badge; "Metal Slug is arguably the most notable Neo Geo action game ever made. It's an excellent game to play through yourself, and even better when tackled with a friend through its co-op mode." Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead wasn't quite as impressed, scoring the game 7 out of 10. Although he praised the original game, he was critical of the port, criticizing the lack of support for online multiplayers, in comparison to the Xbox Live release, and writing "A fantastic game then, in a slightly inferior technical presentation that offers poor value compared to the other available methods of sampling this fine shooter. Truly, Nintendo giveth and Nintendo taketh away."
In a retrospective review, Neo-Geo.com scored the game 9 out of 10; "coming back to Metal Slug feels like returning to visit an old friend--it's just as good as you remember it no matter how long it's been since you last saw each other. Metal Slug is not only an insane amount of fun--it's also one of the best games to illustrate the genre, and among the best titles on the Neo, period."
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