IGN Review of Metal Slug Anthology
During the debut of Wii last November, arcade enthusiasts were treated to the first release of SNK's Metal Slug Anthology; a 10 year anniversary package including seven true-to-arcade emulations of over a decade of Metal Slug goodness. The only problem: Control. Despite being an arcade shooter that makes use of only three buttons and a joystick, Metal Slug Anthology didn't adapt well to motion control, and couldn't make use of any previously-released arcade sticks, making the anthology anything but perfect for hardcore coin-op enthusiasts. Just a month ago Anthology came to PSP, this time toting decent control at the sacrifice of some horrible load times, and again the collection fell into mediocrity. With the old saying "third time's a charm" in mind, SNK has released Metal Slug Anthology for its third and final instance on the PS2, and finally gamers are getting the compilation title they - and the series itself - deserve.
Metal Slug Anthology takes the seven officially-released arcade titles over the last decade and puts them all together in a simple, concise package. Getting its start in 1996 with Metal Slug: Super Vehicle 001, the series has become a staple of action gaming, combining amazing 2D animation (some of the most complex, high-frame in our industry, in fact) with balls-to-the-wall gunplay including a ton of bullets, huge vehicular combat, and a ton of explosions. Metal Slug is the pizza parlor game, as 25 cents gets you three lives, a couple rounds of Heavy Machinegun, and enough action to last you a few refills while waiting for a large pepperoni pie to hit the table.
When converting it over to PS2, however, a few potential issues arise. For starters, this is simply a compilation of seven ported arcade titles. You won't find new content, you won't see any improvements in each of the games, and there really isn't a ton to the package aside from seven arcade roms. SNK fills in the cracks with a simple gallery mode and a text interview with the creator, but aside from the most basic of interfaces and very little extra content there's nothing here but the games.
Secondly, since the games are on roms, there's a bit of load time. It's nowhere near as bad as PSP, which often took a full minute to bring up a mere portion of a game, but you'll still get initial boot-up loads of about five to ten seconds before jumping into battle. Along those same lines, these are arcade-perfect roms, so anywhere where slowdown was an issue (Metal Slug X is actually a remade version of Metal Slug 2, as 2 had a ridiculous amount of slowdown and gameplay oddities to it) you're still going to get it.
With that being said though, the games still hold up pretty dang well over the last decade, as they display the same kind of breakneck action as titles like Gunstar Heroes, Contra, and Alien Hominid. Players will run though five overall missions - each made up of a few stages within - grabbing uber-powerful firearms, grenades, and jumping into the saddle of extremely odd vehicles (riding a donkey with a machinegun mounted to it comes to mind, as does the uber-powerful battle camel). The goal of course is to defeat the plethora of bad-ass bosses, but along the way players can rescue hostages, take alternate routes (depending on the game), and participate in a ton of mini-challenges. Each of the games is either single player or two-player co-op, and all seven titles are based around the same core mechanic; jump, shoot, grenade.
And though the games will be particularly awesome for old-school shooter fans, the repetitive nature of having seven of the same style game may not bode well for some casual players. Metal Slug Anthology is, at its core, a collection for the most die-hard arcade gamers. For those players, it's a no-brainer, but anyone else is forewarned that Metal Slug Anthology will feel like a one-trick pony across the seven games, though it's one of the best damn tricks you'll find in the world of 2D.
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