When DotEmu and SNK Playmore saw how well Metal Slug 3 did in the App Store, they had a decision to make. Do we sit on the first game? Or do we put it out and give people more of what they want? While it seems like an odd move to go backwards in porting games to a new system, that’s just what they’ve done. All in all, it wasn’t that hard of a decision to make, as fans of the legendary Neo Geo 2D shooting series definitely wanted to see the original in action. But how did they do?
Like the previous effort, Metal Slug is a sturdy port of the original game. Everything that you love about the series, from the frenetic pace of the action, to the silly sound effects and saving bearded POWs, to the quick changing into assault vehicles -- all are front and center. Which, when you’re talking about Metal Slug, is a good thing.
It’s simple. It’s old school. It’s nuts. Well, not as nuts as riding elephants, subs and spaceships like in Metal Slug 3. Still, this is where it all started. Since it was the first in this series, the creators didn’t have a feel for things yet.
But the gameplay remains unchanged. You are still a member of the Peregrine Falcon Squad that’s sent in to shoot their way through six levels of loud, crazy action to stop General Morden from taking over the world. There are four difficulty levels to choose from, with the biggest difference being the toughness of the enemies.
But if you really want to try and rack up the biggest score possible, then you are gonna want to work on your Sluggin’ skills so you can tackle the harder levels. That’s where you can pull down the biggest tallys. There is also a new multiplayer mode that you can play via Bluetooth. I didn’t get a chance to try this out, but it seems kind of tacked on.
In what I consider to be the most important part of any ported game, the graphics here are just how I remember them. These are all about nostalgia, right? And you want to give people that old familiar feeling. Metal Slug pulls that off pretty much without a hitch.
Each level looks just as dense and vibrant with chaos as you've come to expect from these games. I didn't notice any slowdown or shaky code, even when things were at their craziest onscreen, with multiple explosions and fusillades flying everywhere.
Unfortunately, the controls suffer from what a lot of these 2D action games suffer from -- clutter. While the touch screen is pretty responsive to the actions, it’s the buttons themselves that present a problem. The game gives you the option to re-position them in a few locations, but I couldn't really find the sweet spot that gave me an unobstructed view of the action, while still being in convenient locations.
But if you are just going to play this on your iOS device of choice, then it’s probably best if that device is an iPad. At least then, you will get a little more clearance with your buttons, leaving more of the action unobstructed. To illustrate, here’s a comparison of the same shot, the first on an iPhone.
And the second on an iPad.
When it comes down to it, the core action in Metal Slug still holds up, even though the game is getting a little long in the tooth. But if you really want to take advantage of the title's fun factor, you are best off looking into getting an iCade (the same goes for Metal Slug 3).
On its own, it’s still a steady shooter that you will enjoy for a little bit. With all of the lives they give you, it won’t take long to blow your way through the game. And then do it again.