They say that third time is a charm right? Well, with SNK and their latest compilation that phrase has never been more fitting. While Wii and PSP owners have been enjoying this massive collection of some of the best 2D action this side of Capcom’s glory days of MegaMan, they weren’t without their fair share of hindrances. The Wii version suffered from control issues while the PSP players had to deal with atrocious loading times. Now with the release of the PS2 version, we have the definitive incarnation of this classic compilation. The real question is, does anyone still care?
To answer that question I will respond with a resounding, “YES!” If you have never been privileged enough to experience this fine collection of 2D glory, there really is no excuse not to indulge now. The PS2 iteration features the same seven games all coupled onto one shiny DVD complete with a nice collection of unlockables and other goodies. The biggest difference is that now players can enjoy the games the way they were meant to be played and without the annoyances of crappy loading times.
For those of you who are not familiar with the franchise by now (all three of you), let’s run down the basics. Metal Slug is infamous for never changing the formula across seven different titles. What this means is, once you have played one, you pretty much know what to expect for the next six games, but originality was never the game’s intent. Think Contra, Alien Hominid, or any other 2D shooter and you get the idea. However, what separates Slug from the others is the intense onscreen action and incredibly detailed animation.
Blood will fly into the air as enemies are shot, bosses are comprised of tons of moving parts, and the environments are some of the quirkiest locales ever created ranging from deserts to underwater pathways complete with man-eating whales. The true beauty of Metal Slug has always been its ability to never take itself too seriously. Characters and enemies are over the top and the sound effects are simple and repetitive. Yet it still manages to be fun on almost every level imaginable.
As I mentioned earlier, the PS2 incarnation is far and away the best of the bunch. With improved loading times (you will still find the general 5-10 second load between levels) and a solid control scheme via the Dual Shock 2, this iteration is the one to own. Now granted, if you already went out and purchased one of the previous releases there is certainly no incentive to lay down the $40 again, but if you have waited this long then your patience has paid off.
The one thing to note is that Metal Slug Anthology is not for everyone. In fact, if you are a casual player simply enticed by the idea of seven games on one disc, you will likely be disappointed that all seven titles here are damn near identical in every fashion. However, if you are an old-school arcade junkie who spent more quarters on Contra than doing laundry, you need not look any further for the best collection of 2D action ever created.
Even with a severe lack of extras, this package is a must own for fans of classic shooter action. MS Anthology is a perfect example of a forgotten truth about gaming that this medium is intended to be fun and nothing else. Granted, all of these games still hold up after all of these years, they are what they are. That said, I can still guarantee hours of enjoyment from this package. Now if we could only get an online version of this game I would truly be in heaven.