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Posted on Sep 28th 2015 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under SNK, arcade, neo geo, psp, ps2, wii, playstation, playstation 2, playstation portable, shooter, run and gun

Metal Slug is an arcade run and gun shooter developed by Nazca Corporation. The team behind Nazca likely started in the early 1990s, when they were an internal team for Irem. In 1994, Irem imploded as a result of extremely weak sales. The wholesale division for arcades became Apies, and with the development group behind Nazca going independent, all Irem had left was a team of video game developers for consoles. In 1996, Nazca released two games for SNK's Neo Geo MVS arcade unit, Neo Turf Masters and Metal Slug. After a stellar sales performance, SNK bought Nazca outright.

SNK was in a precarious position at the time they acquired Nazca, they were busy at work on a fully 3D arcade board, which ended up being the Hyper Neo Geo 64. This upgrade was meant to help SNK produce high budget and top quality 3D arcade games. They were years behind their competitors in this market, and the system did not have any early hits. Their older series, the original Neo Geo MVS, remained the standard for the company, because of later released, fast-paced and fun 2D arcade games like Metal Slug.

In Metal Slug, you take control of a guy parachuting in to take care of a top secret mission. From there, you run to the right, and occasionally jump upwards, shooting enemies, and saving your hippy POW buddies. The prisoners you save will drop all kinds of stuff for you, from something as worthless as a tiny coin, to higher score items, to weapons and bombs. Their drops even expand should you be driving one of the Metal Slugs, and they can drop extra shots for your turret, and more gas to refill the vehicle's health.

The control is silky smooth. You can aim in eight different directions, but you have to jump to shoot beneath you. The Metal Slug can even duck, so you can dodge beam shots even when you're in a big tank! The graphics in the game are gorgeous, and the animations are fluid and beautiful to watch. Everybody may have been drooling over contemporary 3D graphics, and they were all the rage on the home consoles available in 1996. Because of this, it may seem surprising that Metal Slug was such a hit in the arcade. Hindsight has shown us that 2D ages like fine wine. At the time, SNK and the teams still supporting the MVS were showing the world that 2D was also going to look better as the years passed by.

Metal Slug is available on a lot of systems. You could get a Neo Geo cabinet and buy the MVS arcade cartridge. If you have a lot of money burning a hole in your pocket, you could go for the incredibly expensive set on SNK's home console, the Neo Geo AES. If you're low on budget then the best option is the Metal Slug Anthology on the Playstation Portable, the Wii, or the Playstation 2. The Wii and PSP versions are similar in price, $20-30 range, but the PS2 version of the Anthology is in the $35-50 range at the moment. These Anthologies have all seven Metal Slug games released so far, so it could be one of the best value packages in all of gaming! There are also digital versions of some Metal Slug games on the Playstation Network, Xbox Live, and Virtual Console.

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Those graphics and little animated touches for me turned a good run 'n gun game into such a great game. A joy to play.
Great games and I agree, the Anthology is the way to go.
I have been playing the Anthology with my buddy, we are up to Metal Slug 3, hopefully Wednesday, or Monday of next week.  Love these games!
As much time as I spend on Neo Geo machines during this time period, I have to admit that I never saw this game until an import demo in an issue of Playstation Underground (remember those?) that I must have played a hundred times.  I ended up getting the PSX import (paying something like $80 for it).  Such a fun game, and as you pointed out, this type of art just doesn't age at all.
@Gamer4Lyfe: They just get weirder the further along you get. The first three are classics though, and I think my overall favorite is Metal Slug X.
@SirPsycho:Awesome!  I am looking forward to the weird, that sounds like fun too.
Nice succinct write-up, SirPsycho!  Great series of games - reading this makes me want to pull out my PSP and fire up some Metal Slug...

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