Also available on Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD, Neo Geo X, Saturn, PlayStation, Switch; Wii, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable via Metal Slug Anthology and SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1; Wii via Virtual Console; PlayStation Network, iOS, Android, and Windows
Metal Slug is the first entry in what is - in my opinion - the greatest arcade run-n-gun series of all time. It's the reason that I hunted down a Neo Geo MVS cabinet, and it provided some of my all-time favorite Wii co-op memories when playing Metal Slug Anthology. I'm more than a little biased, but this series is one of SNK's greatest masterpieces, and it all started with this game.
The basic plot is that this evil General Morden took over the world's governments and took possession of a new all-terrain war tank called Metal Slugs. Marco Rossi and Tarma Roving are sent in to reclaim or destroy any Metal Slugs they find and to locate and destroy Morden's base of operations. They complete this critical mission by running to the right and killing every enemy soldier in their way (of which there seems to be an endless supply). Along the way, you encounter POWs you can free. If you save these prisoners, they pull large weapons - heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers, etc - out their anuses. At least I'm assuming that's where they were hiding them. Not really any other place I can think of to hide heavy weapons when you're just wearing rags and are being tied up by the enemy.
The game itself is extremely simple in concept, but as an arcade game designed to eat your quarters, it's insanely difficult. I also suck at it, so it's a damn good thing I can set the cabinet to Free Play and just continue infinitely. I could play every day for the rest of my life, and I'm fully confident that I'd still never be able to 1cc the game. It's a great challenge, though, and it's ridiculously fun when you're playing with a friend.
In addition to running and gunning through enemy soldiers, if you get close enough to then, you can stab them with a knife and kill them (which is RIDICULOUSLY satisfying to do). You'll also have to content with enemy tanks, artillery, planes, helicopters, and patrol boats. While you'll play through most of the game on foot, there are several occasions where you'll get to take control of a Metal Slug. You get an infinite ammo machine gun while you're in the Metal Slug, and your grenades are replaced with cannon shells. One level at the end, you get to use an anti-aircraft gun and massacre whole squadrons of fighters. It's basically the coolest shit of 1996.
Metal Slug isn't the greatest run and gun game of all time, but it is the progenitor of the greatest run and gun series of all time. I stand by that statement; fight me. The biggest problem I have with this first entry in the series is that there's some serious slow down on the arcade version. Later ports fixed that for the most part, but it's a pretty jarring thing on the arcade. Honestly, though, that's my only real complaint. It's just so damn good, especially when you've got a friend to play with you. My recommendation is to play it on PS2 or Wii on Metal Slug Anthology or on the digital release on Switch, but however you play it, it kicks ass.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.