In the 90s and early 2000s I found myself in a ton of arcades here in South Africa and of course one of the games that everyone must have come across at one point or another, is Metal Slug. This arcade run and gun tests players with manic styled shooting where everything and anything is about to receive a metal slug from you. Players jump into the shoes, or rather boots, of a Special Forces unit known as “Peregrine Falcon Squad” to take on a rebel army bent on world domination, and retrieve their stolen weapon known as the Metal Slug.
War is hella fast
Along your path to justice, you’ll have to take on not only foot soldiers but also enemy tanks and even fighter planes soaring above you. This is a run and gun game, with a timer on every level, so don’t ever expect there to be a calm moment, unless you’ve just picked off a boss, but that’s just because the game has to tally up your score and load up the next level. Thankfully with Metal Slug being such a fast-paced game, enemies can be dispatched as quickly as they appear, with an easy one-shot kill or slice from your knife. There are however tougher enemies with shields that require a bit more elbow work but nothing a good grenade can’t fix. And as mentioned above, enemy tanks and fighter planes obviously require a tad more firepower than your handgun can dish out before they’re shot down and destroyed. Thankfully, you’ll be able to pick up power-ups or upgrades for your weapons, turning that single bullet handgun into a heavy machine gun and even a rocket launcher. There are quite a number of other power-ups as well, like the shotgun and flamethrowers but unlike the handgun, their ammo is limited. So it’s always best to save these power-ups for the boss battles.
This is a run and gun game, with a timer on every level, so don’t ever expect there to be a calm moment.
Players also have artillery bombs which are quite handy when coming up against something like a tank, however, these too are limited in number. And then there are the tanks themselves. Throughout certain points and levels in the game, players are able to jump into their own tanks. However, these are no ordinary tanks as players will be able to fire cannons from them, utilise a machine gun that you can rotate in a 360-degree angle across the screen with. And the smasher of a feature, jump with your tank. YES INDEED, you’ll be platforming…with your tank. Although keep in mind that the tanks aren’t invincible. Jumping with your tank plays a big role through certain levels though as you’ll find yourself having to jump across destroyed enemies remains and sometimes even a destroyed building. The tanks also come in handy with certain boss fights. Since it is war in the world of Metal Slug, you can expect the boss fights to be intense. Some boss fights will have you going up against tanks five times larger than your own which has a multitude of weapons. Some have machine guns or rather what looks like plasma guns and even a HUGE cannon protruding from below it. Obviously, with a cannon blast coming at you, it would be best to jump outta the way. And surprise, surprise you’re able to do that with your tank.
Although the game is short, being able to finish it in just about an hour, Metal Slug is a real blast from the past, quite literally. The backdrops in every level give that sense of constantly being in battle. From war-torn cities to the green wild environments of the jungle. Each level offers the player that feeling of immersive 3D environments in a 2D space. Add in the heroic soundtrack and sound effects such as the automatic machine guns or prisoners screaming for help, this keeps the player hyped up so much, that I had to stop myself from jumping up and screaming “hasta la vista suckers” a few times whilst playing in public. The fact that it’s on the Switch makes things even better. With the ability to not only play on the go but also in a co-op manner, makes this title a must-have for Nintendo’s hybrid.