IGN Review of Metal Slug Anthology
For arcade fans this compilation has been a long, long time coming. The Metal Slug franchise has been around since 1996, offers some of the most hardcore traditional shooter gameplay to date, and is jam-packed with awesomely animated 2D art. Over the years there have been seven main Metal Slug games, labeled one through six, and Metal Slug X. For the first time, these six games are finally in the same package together and readily available somewhere other than an arcade or PC emulator (tisk tisk). Metal Slug Anthology brings every major title in the franchise together for a 10th year anniversary, and sticks an astonishingly affordable price of $39.99 on the box. What we've got here is an absolutely essential game for the "quarter-jerker anonymous." Now that we've got the fanboyish ranting out of the way, we'll take you to the grim truth about Metal Slug Anthology for Wii. Despite its awesome package of true arcade classics, it can be a bit of a letdown when it comes to the total package of presentation, extras, and control.
We aren't telling you to throw your hopes of a solid Metal Slug revival in the trash, but we do want to warn you as to what exactly you'll be getting in the Anthology package so you can decide the right course of action with your gaming bucks. First of all, if you're looking for true-to-arcade versions of each of the Metal Slug titles, you'll get them. The blood is there, the robust animations are there, and - when applicable - the bits of naughty words are there.
Where the issues start to arise, however, is in everything that encapsulates this package of must-have titles. On the presentation side, the game interface is extremely sketchy, hosting some pretty crude menus filed with mostly sliding art from the game. Even the loading screens have a basic picture and a tiny tank skidding across the bottom of the screen, but no time was taken to actually animate the tank moving in any way. On the main screen it's no different, as you'll be looking at a huge drawing of the metal slug tank and pressing left/right on the d-pad to slide one main picture. If you want the options, scroll through the games to get to them. It isn't a life-or-death thing, but it's still annoying to see, as the games themselves are amazing but the package screams "cash-out" from minute one.
And when it comes to any sort of fan-service, Metal Slug Anthology again comes up pretty lacking. Beating the games in either single or multiplayer modes earns tokens, which in turn can unlock different extras. Mostly these are about a dozen galleries of concept/final art compiled from each of the seven games, as well as an interview with the creators of the Metal Slug series. On a huge downer though, the interview isn't video, it isn't audio with pictures, it's actually just a big block of text. What could have been one of the bigger highlights to the package instead looks like something that was cut/pasted directly from an IGN page or standard word document, and that's a bit disheartening as well.
That being said though, the games are still in tact, and for the most part they kick as much ass now as they did back in the day. If you aren't entirely familiar with the franchise, just think Contra with more action and a larger over-the-top style. All the weapons are there, the hilarious VO (our favorite being "Rocket Laoon-cha"), and the mountains and mountains of enemy blast-ables. Not only are you getting seven awesome titles in this package, but you're also getting a historical progression of the SNK style, starting with the very basic Metal Slug and moving all the way up to the most recent Metal Slug 5 and 6. Also, when looking at the price of the package ($40 buck-a-roonies), it's pretty impressive to think you're getting full versions of every major game in the series. Metal Slug 3 released on Xbox two years back by itself for the same price, and about a year ago Metal Slug 4 & 5 were given the similar treatment in a single pack. On Wii you're getting far more for your buck, especially when comparing it to 4,000 Wii points, which would get you eight NES games or a few Genesis titles and maybe Mario 64. Obviously a part of that goes to Nintendo's overpriced download service ($5 for a bad DK port
yeah right Ninty), but still; if Wii is going to be the retro system, you can't find a better deal than seven killer arcade titles for about six bucks a pop. That, or go play five minutes of NES Pinball before strangling yourself to death with the nunchuk
But what about control? There have been a ton of rumblings with this game, centered almost entirely around the different control schemes included and whether or not Metal Slug Anthology can work with the GameCube and classic controllers. Here's the verdict: Control could be better, but you'll most likely find one that works fine for you. In our opinion, throw away five of the control schemes right off the bat. There's no reason to use two controllers on this one (nunchuck to move and Wii-mote to attack/jump, motion control for throwing grenades), and there's certainly no reason to use the "nunchuk only" control scheme that makes the game one-handed and odd. What it comes down to for us is either the Wii-mote on its side (like the NES days), using the d-pad to move, the buttons to jump/shoot, and flicking the controller to throw grenades, or just caving in the use the GameCube controller.
It's a bit frustrating to see so many control schemes and not more than two of them that really make sense though. None of the control setups (aside from GameCube and an odd motion = moving one
blegh) allow for grenades to be mapped to a button press, and for some reason the GameCube controller also doesn't let you use the d-pad and not the analog stick. That means that with all the crazy "use your Wii controller upright as a virtual arcade stick" crap that was put in the game there isn't a single mode that lets you use a d-pad along with all button presses for the game's actions. Granted if you don't mind using the analog stick you're fine with the GameCube setup, and if you're anything like us you'll just end up tracking down a few arcade sticks to do things right anyhoo, but the control choices really are odd. *Please note: If you're going to go about the arcade stick method, you'll need to find sticks that take input from the analog signal rather than the d-pad.
As another final note on control, there's no support for the Wii Classic Controller at all. While we don't have a solid answer for you as to why this is the case, there have been more than a few rumblings about the reason, but mostly the consensus was that there was a discrepancy between SNK and Nintendo on whether or not the classic controller should be available to developers for full retail games just yet. Regardless of why classic control can't be used, we'll just state the facts; it can't be. It's a shame, it's moronic, but that's the way it is.
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