Review: So complete it contains Metal Slug 2 AND its remake Metal Slug X
Metal Slug is the most intense run-and-gun arcade franchise that hasn't broken from its 2D commitment (at least not in the United States) since it premiered on the NeoGeo over a decade ago. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of its side-scrolling shooter series, SNK Playmore has put together a seven game compilation for the Wii, PS2 and PSP. All three versions contain Metal Slug 1 through 6 and Metal Slug X, but the latter portable edition is the most practical one. It emulates the series just as well as its console counterparts and can be taken anywhere that a Metal Slug fan treks.
Out of the seven included games, Metal Slug 6 is the most important not because it's the latest in the series, but because so few players got a chance to check it out. It released in the arcade and PS2 (in Japan only) less than a year ago, so you have to give SNK a huge amount of credit for adding it into this retrospective. The actual gameplay is not much different from Metal Slug 1, which, if you haven't played the series before, can be described best as Contra with wackier and funnier level and enemy designs.
What Metal Slug Anthology is made out of
Stages in the Metal Slug series almost always progress from right to left except when the occasional platform climbing is throw in. Along the way, players are greeted by wave after wave of enemy soldiers or monsters and come across tied-up hostages. Both defeated enemies and rescued hostages drop advanced weapon upgrades that illuminate the screen with over-the-top bullet action. Of course, all of that franticness dies down a little bit as soon as you die and respawn with your original weapon. No matter what your arsenal looks like, though, killing enemies, destroying armored bosses, blowing up buildings and freeing hostages works the same way: fire some bullets, throw a grenade or do both in a slug. Slugs are mechanized vehicle or animal rides that acts as the ultimate method of transportation and annihilation.
The PSP Performance
Metal Slug 1 to 6 and Metal Slug X (which is a remake of Metal Slug 2) are all arcade perfect ports and look great on the PSP screen. Getting to each of these Metal Slug games can be rather? sluggish, though. The load times range from 30 to 45 seconds and the several seconds break between levels is rather disappointing. Nevertheless, once you get into the game, it's pretty much non-stop action. The frame rate still produces the same slowdown problems seen in the arcade originals when the action became fiercest, but that's what you get for having an arcade perfect compilation.
To take advantage of the system's 16:9 ratio, Anthology supports three screen sizes, including a full screen aspect ratio. The 4:3 resize is the best fit, though. It evenly enlarges the smaller original pixel option horizontally and vertically unlike full screen, which stretches and distorts the picture. It a shame that a side-scrolling game like this isn't remastered to take advantage of the system's friendly widescreen since that's exactly what PSP needs.
Besides adjusting the aspect ratio, an outside options menu sets your preferences for all seven games rather than having to change the options in each. Auto fire can be turned on so that you can simply hold down the attack button instead of repeatedly pressing it. Likewise, toggling between unlimited and limited continues makes for an easier or harder game. High scores are displayed within this outside-the-games options menu, while saving your progress anywhere in a level is available within the in-game options menu.
After selecting a Metal Slug game, but before starting the actual ROM, the game asks if you want a single-player game, host a network game or join a network game. The ad hoc capability brings the run-and-gun gameplay to you and a friend via Wi-Fi as long as your pal has the game and handheld handy. No online support to speak of. Infrastructure mode would have boosted this game's replay value since it's tough to find some one who also owns a copy and doesn't want to borrow yours all the time. Game extras don't help extend the longevity of this Anthology with unlockable art, wallpaper, music and a ?developer interview.?