Merriam-Webster Online describes an “anthology” as “a collection of selected literary pieces or passages or works of art or music.” We prefer our definition: “old school gaming goodness” (abbreviated to OSGG). You need to see it in use? Simple, SNK Playmore’s Metal Slug Anthology for the Nintendo Wii.
The Metal Slug series is a side-scrolling run-‘n’-gun action game developed and published by SNK Playmore, a corporation behind a whole slew of action games for all kinds of platforms. Since its first release on the Neo-Geo (home and arcade versions) in 1996, Metal Slug has been ported to numerous consoles such as the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Neo-Geo Pocket Color and recently, the Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. What about a next-gen port? It’s happened. This time it’s on Nintendo’s Wii console, but this isn’t just any old port of one of the Metal Slug games, it’s a compilation of all seven.
Celebrating the series’ 10th anniversary, Metal Slug Anthology gets you seven games for the astonishing price of 40 McChicken sandwiches ($40)! We know it’s a tough trade-off. You’ll get Metal Slug, Metal Slug 2, Metal Slug X, Metal Slug 3, Metal Slug 4, Metal Slug 5, and Metal Slug 6.
You are initially greeted by a not-so-pretty menu system decorated with images from the game. That’s not to say that it doesn’t function as it should, it just looks a bit unpolished. The same goes with the loading screen, which is a shame beings the loading times are a bit of a pain. Again, these issues (aside from the loading times) are nothing major; they just detract from the game’s overall presentation and a user’s first impression of the game.
The games themselves are genuine arcade gold, adorned with beautiful 2D art, jam-packed with comical voiceovers, and pumped full of non-stop action. For you quarter-devouring arcade veterans, Metal Slug Anthology will surely bring back the good memories. One of the few issues that may have vets cringing is the extra loading screens between game sequences, which most likely go unnoticed by any newcomer to the series. Nonetheless, it’s run-‘n’-gun at its best, and on a side note, the game includes two player co-op.
Another thing that may annoy “Metal Sluggers” is the whole arcade aspect of the game. If you’re at all familiar with arcade games, you would know that in most games, after you run out of lives, you are required to pop in another quarter if you want to continue. You see the problem? Instead of limiting lives (which might frighten noobs) and instead of giving you unlimited lives (which might make arcade diehards cry), SNK Playmore did something (not so) creative – they included both options. Players have the choice of playing through the game with limited or unlimited lives. Personally, I feel like this feature is just avoiding the issue altogether, but hey, it gets the job done. Of course, you can save your progress through the game at any given moment, a welcomed feature that’s far too uncommon in games nowadays.
Additionally, Metal Slug Anthology contains “unlockables.” These unlockables are purchased with points gained at the end of each game. They include music tracks, concept art for characters, vehicles, soldiers, and miscellanea, and an interview with the Metal Slug development team (the interview isn’t even a video; it’s a bunch of text – what’s up with that?). These extras add a tiny bit to the game’s depth, but they’re nothing major.
You’re probably wondering how the game utilizes the Wii’s revolutionary control style? The answer is simple, it doesn’t. Despite featuring six different control modes, Metal Slug just doesn’t exploit the Wii’s powerful motion-sensitive controller. Most of the control setups are nothing more than gimmicks in our opinion. For example, one of them uses the Wii Remote for jumping and engaging in combat and the Nunchuck for movement, with motion for slinging a grenade. Another setup has you holding the Wii Remote in an upward position as if it were a joystick and using that for moving while using the Nunchuck for attacking and lobbing grenades. A third style combines everything into the Nunchuck, which frankly just doesn’t work out. You’ll likely find one that works for you, but your best bet is plugging in a GameCube controller and using that. For reasons unbeknownst to us, the Wii’s Classic Controller is not compatible with the game.
how we score
Gimmicks aside, Metal Slug Anthology is a very solid port, and an immensely solid arcade game. With its rich bitmapping, admirable sound, and kick-ass game play, this is a game that is true OSGG – absolutely an essential game for retro and frugal gamers alike.