Reviewing Metal Slug 7 is one of the toughest endeavors I’ve undertook since launching 2D-X. Allow me to explain.
I’ve been a fan of the Metal Slug series since its inception; the combination of cutesy, cartoon-like 2D sprites and mega-violence sang a song of love. Unfortunately, its debut was during the arcade’s twilight in the New York City area, so it became increasingly difficult to get my Slug-on because a) Neo Geo uprights were hard to find and b) home consoles lacked the muscle to handle MEGA SHOCK titles. Playing SNK ports on RAM-deficient systems makes newborn kittens cry.
So, I didn’t have much opportunity to take Marco and company on bullet-filled romps, and even owning a Neo Geo AES system didn’t help matters as there was no way I could justify spending $300 for a video game (until the first million rolls in, at least; keep visiting, people).
Fast forward to 2009. After trading in a bunch of worthless game titles for credit at a local Gamestop, I decided to fulfill a dream by purchasing an original Metal Slug game. Sure, I could’ve bought a PlayStation or Xbox port of one of the earlier releases, but SNK Playmore’s Metal Slug 7 was a brand new title in the series–not a Neo Geo port.
Similar to when you were a kid and had a adamantium-like bond with the first handful of games that you owned (regardless of quality), I have much love for Metal Slug 7; perhaps more than it really deserves. Metal Slug 7 isn’t a bad game by any means; in fact, it’s quite good. But it lacks the some of the magic that made the series sparkle from Metal Slug to Metal Slug 3.
As with Metal Slug 6, our heroes include:
- Marco Rossi: His guns do twice the damage as others
- Eri Kasamoto: Carries twice as many grenades as others
- Tarma Roving: Does extra Slug damage
- Fio Germi: Extra weapons supply and totes the Heavy Machine Gun
- Ralf Jones: Can take two hits instead of one; his Vulcan Punch can tear through enemies and machinery
- Clark Still/Steel: His Argentine Backbreaker works on most non-vehicle enemies, and grants invincibility
The new Slugs include:
- Sluck Truck
- Slug Giant
- Heavy Armor
Metal Slug 7 is similar to its predecessors in that you, for better lack of phrasing, air vent everything that moves. The grunts are generic soldiers that are the series’ staple, but they have personality: they point and snigger when you die, and cower in fear when you respawn. The explosions are huge, mech-monsters massive (with tons of shifting gears, parts, and other touches), and character movement as you leap, shoot, and chuck grenades captivating and, uh, cute. In a hardcore, military way, of course. This attention to detail, combined with the series’ trademark hyper-animation, makes Metal Slug 7 a visually interesting title.
“Adequate” would be the word best to describe the audio. The explosions and yells of enemy soldiers are loud and clear, but the music is forgettable. Not in a bad way, such as listening to Marvel vs. Capcom 2‘s original score; it’s just so non-catchy that you won’t find yourself humming any of the tunes once you power down the Nintendo DS.
Metal Slug 7 features seven levels, so some may decry that the action isn’t lengthy enough. Still, genre fans will have a blast evading and returning fire; does every title need to have 50 hours of gameplay? (Commando: Steel Disaster is the perfect example of a lengthy game done wrong). Between work, spouses, friends, and family, many of us welcome a quick-and-dirty gaming experience.
Besides the standard one-player missions, there’s Combat School, a modified version of the standard arcade mode in which you’re required to meet certain criteria, such as rescuing hostages. Unbelievably, there’s no two-player mode, a cardinal sin in a Slug game.
There aren’t many quality run-and-gun titles on the Nintendo DS, so by default Metal Slug 7 is of the upper-echelon. The gameplay is far more far and balanced than the needlessly frustrating Commando: Steel Disaster, but I reckon that only the most hardcore fans will actually see the ending as the action gets really intense once you pass the opening level. There’s no multiplayer (a sin in a Metal Slug game!), and the second screen displays a useless terrain overview, but Metal Slug 7 is portable Slug done (mostly) right.