Name: Metal Slug 7
Genre: Action, Shoot-‘em-up
Platform: Nintendo DS
The Metal Slug series has always been fun. If I’m ever in an arcade and have a few quarters to spare, I always look for the old NeoGeo cabinet to give the game a play. There hasn’t been a portable version of the game for a while, and my DS has been screaming at me to break up the recent influx of RPGs. Metal Slug games have never demanded too much graphically, or control-wise, so the DS and a side-scrolling shmup seemed like a match made in heaven.
Immediately upon starting up the game, you’ll notice how pleasant Metal Slug 7 looks. Honestly, the game looks about as good on the small screen as it does in a big cabinet. Animations are fluid, and characters are easily discernable thanks to a strong color palate. The design work in the Metal Slug series has always been among my favorites, and this game follows in its predecessor’s shoes perfectly. While you may grow tired of seeing similar enemies over and over again after a few restarts, the journey to the individual stage bosses is well worth it once you see them in action. Controls are fairly simple, and mapped in a way that they never feel awkward. Stylus use is kept to a minimum, and with good reason. Any type of stylus use would have would felt tacked on and unnecessary since the game only requires four buttons to play anyhow. Level design isn’t all that amazing, but the actual settings are very nicely put together. This ends the portion of the review where I have nice things to say about the game.
Metal Slug 7 replicates the arcade experience nearly spot-on, with only one glaring omission. Ordinarily, that’d be great news, but for this game it’s a major problem. When a $30 game only takes about an hour to finish, there’s something wrong. Wasting a few dollars for an hour at the arcade is one thing, but paying full retail price for a game you can finish in less time than it takes to roast a turkey is unfair to consumers. They could’ve at least put three or four Metal Slugs on the cartridge to make it more worth the price of admission, but they didn’t. Even more disparaging is the omission of multiplayer. I’m amazed that in this day and age a developer can release a game like this without allowing players to team with a friend. Part of the allure of Metal Slug is playing with a friend, and removing that aspect is not only poor decision-making, but is also insulting to fans of the series.
The game gives you six characters to choose from, each with varying specialties, from more grenades to better close-quarters skills. The individual skill sets don’t really affect the way the game is played, but they do offer just the slightest bit of difference should you want to play through any of the seven missions again. You could also play through the game on another difficulty, which results in less continues, and lower-powered weapons being made available. Neither of these factors are enough to compensate for the lack of length or multiplayer.
I was pretty stoked to play this game when I first put it in the DS. Unfortunately, Metal Slug 7 just doesn’t deliver a complete gameplay experience. It’s too short, too lacking in features, and doesn’t give players anything extraordinary to make up for its mishaps. Maybe one day when the price drops, this game will be worth your time, but for now, this is a game just about everybody but die-hard fans can skip.