by Steve



Japanese Title: Metal Slug
Year: 1997
System: Saturn
Other Versions? Neo Geo: AES, CD, & MVS; PSX 


Remember Mario? He was (un)arguably the biggest character on the 8-bit Nintendo. While I shared good times with ole Mario, it was really Konami's Contra that hooked me: The music, the enemies, the gun-shooting alien atmosphere -there was nothing like Contra in the late 80's. The overwhelming sense to put an end to evil and restore order to the universe provided grounds for a jam-packed adrenaline rush.

Many years later, Metal Slug strolled onto the scene. And it took gamers back to the good old days of "go-right action," "two player 2D shooting bliss," whatever you want to call it. Unfortunately for me, since I had been out of the 'gaming scene' during the mid-90's through 2000, I never really played the Metal Slugs.

I recently acquired a mint copy of the Saturn version by chance of fate. I was ecstatic because this was my chance to fully play the game and see how it held up in my regards. Besides, the memories I have of Contra and the endless nights spent destroying alien monsters... it felt as if those "golden days" were from a different lifetime. Perhaps Metal Slug can take me back...

What can I say? From the start I became a believer. Suddenly I was thrust into the shoes of Marco Rossi. As I shot my first enemy soldier and saw him fall to the ground bleeding a horrible yet satisfying death, I was sold. Next thing I knew this baddie came real close to me so I pressed the attack button. I expected Marco to fire his gun, but no! An old-fashioned knife reality-check to the throat. I was impressed with this feature!



Not before long, I acquired the flame thrower. I rolled on the floor laughing when I saw the results. The soldiers were engulfed in flames and wildly wailing their arms about. A thing of beauty if there ever was one.

I was disappointed somewhat in the enemies. They didn't seem to have much variety. Yes, you do fight soldiers, tanks, boats, planes and some huge bosses, but the regular soldiers seemed to all look the same. Some attacked differently, but I wished there was more of a variation to them, look-wise.

For instance, I would have loved to seen the token baldheaded bad-ass soldier. Or the fat soldier. Or the "Elite Soldier"... you know, the guy who is slightly bigger than the rest and takes four, five bullets to die instead of one. I know this isn't Final Fight we're talking about here, but I would have loved to seen that kind of enemy variation.

Halfway through the game, I got my wish. This big mother-- comes out of nowhere. Wielding a killer gun and possessing the dirtiest mouth in town, I knew I was in for a dogfight.

A barn-burner.

A slobber-knocker.

A survival of the fittest.

Last man standing.

Duel to the death.

Cutthroat warfare.

I think you get the idea. :-)

He was fun to fight and a break from the run-of-the-mill soldiers.  After a short while, if you're crafty you'll discover his pattern rather quickly and send him back to the underworld. After he dies, he'll scream, "SEE YA IN HELL!" A very cool voice sample. Nicely executed. Great mid-boss. He could have very well been an end boss.



Overall, I just wished there were more different-looking enemies to kill besides those low-end soldiers. But I guess that's what sequels are for. ;-)

Also, I wished some Prisoners of War could turn on you. Like, you cut one loose and he starts wailing on you with all his might. You know, because he has been institutionalized and he might know that he can't make it out in the real world. Kind of like resisting the good. This would help keep you on your toes. In turn, you have no choice but to kill the P.O.W. That would have been a welcomed feature. Also, it would have been cool if the enemy soldiers could kill the P.O.W's. That would give you only a limited time frame to rescue them and make the reward all that more satisfying. But it's all good.

The loading times are somewhat long, but nothing I couldn't stand. About 8 seconds from stage to stage.

The details impressed me much. Such as being able to shoot flags to shreds. If you jump on a snow-covered platform, you'll see some of the snow fall off. Stand still and Marco will take a quick drink. Things like this are pleasing to any appreciative gamer. Good hard work put in by the game makers.

No corners cut.

The whole nine yards.

The works.

Everything but the kitchen sink.

Going the extra mile.

The early bird gets the worm.

I think you get the idea. :-) [we do. -Ed]

The bosses were for the most part, marvelous. The end boss, I must admit, was kind of a disappointment. I expected a little more. But the last boss is still pretty fun to dismantle. Actually, all the bosses are fun to destroy. Each hit a boss takes it will flash. Hit a boss repeatedly and you will see a classic flash-unflash-flash pattern. It's really cool and definitely took me back to the old days.

Even though the last boss disappointed me, don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the battle very much! I was on my last life and I could tell he was on his as well. It was do or die time. He was dropping bombs left and right like a madman and I was dodging for my life. I fired back, flung bombs at him and trying my damnedest to wipe him off the face of the earth. It was sheer, utter madness. It got so intense I stood up and yelled:

"If you're not gonna die, I'm gonna die! Bastard... ONE OF US HAS TO DIE !!!"

I tell you... it's been a long while since I got out of my seat to yell something like that. And it felt... great. Kind of like the feeling you get when you come home after a long vacation. "Ahhhh"... I'm back.

To sum it up, I was very impressed with this game. It is a joy to play. There are six levels total. Hook up with a buddy and two player action is absolute gaming paradise.

As far as I'm concerned, every library needs a game like Metal Slug. So good luck! I hope you survive to fight another day and live to tell about it! 'Coz there ain't nothing quite like swapping war stories with your fellow service men, eh!?

Graphics: 9.5
Control: 8.5
Sounds/Music: 8.5
Presentation: 8.5
Game Play: 9
Replay Value: 8
Loading: 6.5
Fun Factor: 8.5 (solo) ... 10 (two players)

Final Thoughts: Metal Slug definitely took me back to the good old days and then some more. Remember.... come back a hero or don't come back at all! Soldier dismissed.

Overall: 95%


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