Fans of arcade shooters your prayers have finally been answered. While it has been a long time coming SNK has finally unleashed the definitive collection of Metal Slug games, and it retains all of the hardcore arcade action that fans of the series have come to know and love. This collection contains all seven titles including the ill-named Metal Slug X and makes this the only official collection to contain every single game as well as marking the first time that all the titles have been available in the states. This gives arcade junkies a great package to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the franchise all at the unbelievably low price of $39.99; that is less than six bucks per game!
Long-time fans will be pleased to know that all seven games are perfect translations of their original arcade counterparts. This includes the incredible animation, gallons upon gallons of blood, and even the quick sound bytes featuring some naughty lingo. What is disappointing though is that beyond the games there really isn’t anything here to round out the package. Now don’t get me wrong you will not find a better deal for this much arcade goodness, but some exclusive extras would have gone a long way for a fan such as me.
What you do get though is a collection of concept art and unlockable pictures that most fans have probably already seen a thousand times before. There is also an interview with the creators that can be unlocked but it simply contains a copy and paste text for you to read. This is truly disappointing as I am sure they could have at least put this in video form.
Outside of the disappointing extras though is an amazing compilation of arcade action that is unrivaled; especially on the Wii console. For anyone who has been living under a rock and has not experienced the Metal Slug series before let me give you a quick gist of the game play. If you could imagine Contra style mechanics mixed with over the top animation and some of the wackiest scenarios you could imagine (like turning into a zombie and chucking blood as your special attack) then you have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
There really is little variation between the seven titles outside of a few new vehicles, did someone say camels, and some new playable characters, but honestly that is what has made the series a favorite among fans. The formula is simple and fun and tearing through it with a buddy is the closest you will get to true arcade satisfaction in this day and age. Each game retains a certain level of quality that will hold up for generations to come which is why having all seven of them on one convenient collection is truly a dream and definitely worth every penny.
Now for the most important part of this review, the control scheme. While I am sure you have heard numerous accounts of how the controls in this game work, you can rest assured that eventually you will find one that works for you. For starters you can use the Gamecube controller, and if you have that option I definitely recommend it as using the Wii-mote does have some hindrances that will likely annoy some players. The Cube controller is by far the best option of control as it gives the most responsive and familiar control scheme for those of us who have been playing Metal Slug since it’s inception.
Now if you have traded in all of your Cube controllers or simply never owned one then the developers have given you tons of control schemes using both the Wii-mote and nunchuk either as a pair or separately. Yes friends for a game that only uses three buttons Metal Slug Anthology has the largest set of control options I have ever seen in a game. Let’s start with the two handed approach. Using both the nunchuk and Wii-mote at the same time is probably my least recommended as it is not a necessity to use both controllers. With this setup you will move your character with the analog on the nunchuk and the Wii-mote to attack and jump while flicking it to toss grenades. This causes issues because the flicking motion for grenades is touchy so you will either be tossing more than one or none at all.
The last two options require only one of the included Wii controllers. The first is probably the most awkward of the bunch and that is the nunchuk only method. I can not fathom why anyone would ever use this scheme, but it is there for those of you who love to live dangerously. The last is flipping the Wii-mote sideways ala the old NES pad and using the 1 and 2 buttons for attacks and jumping. The grenades are still performed by flicking the remote which can lead to inaccuracies, but controlling your character with the d-pad just feels good and natural making this the best way to play the game with the standard Wii Controller.
While this title is certainly an outstanding package chock full of value it isn’t for everyone. Gamers looking for that Wii-magic from games like Elebits and of course Zelda may not find enough here to warrant their 40 bucks. However if you have ever been a fan of this series or simply a fan of arcade shooters in general; then there is no reason not to buy this compilation. While you could probably blaze through all seven games in a day or two; you will never grow tired of ripping through them over and over with a buddy in the co-op mode. With the Virtual Console and game collections like this, the Wii could easily become the home for some of the best classic games on the market.