Metal Slug Advance Review

Metal Slug is one of the most highly regarded shoot ’em ups ever developed. It had dominated both the Arcades and the Neo Geo consoles for years. In 2005 that changed when a version appeared on the GameBoy Advance. This was one of the first truly authentic arcade-style Metal Slug titles to ever appear on a handheld.  It was a totally original title which was exclusively developed for the system and featured new levels and even new characters. It’s great to see that SNK took the time to craft a new gameplay experience for fans rather than just rehash a conversion of an existing title.

 

Image result for metal slug advance

These five new levels feature the same terrific graphics and beautiful animation which made the Neo Geo games so beloved by fans. There’s even a new card-collecting mechanic which is incorporated into the mix to help extend the game’s overall longevity. These cards unlock new weapon and tank upgrades to play with. The overall result is a fun, action-packed shooter that is totally deserving of the Metal Slug name.

Examining the graphics, it’s incredible how closely the GBA offering comes to duplicating the sights and sounds of the Neo Geo Metal Slug games.  It contains the same beautifully exaggerated character designs, animations, and sound effects. Anyone familiar with the way the heroes throw grenades, slice up the enemy with knives and the vocal announcing of picking up weapons such as “machine gun” will be pleased to see and hear the same here.

Image result for metal slug advance

The multilayered 2D backgrounds that make up the game’s jungle, mountain and desert environments are particularly impressive. The interweave animated wave motion and lighting effects that many developers don’t usually invest the GBA’s resources on. The small screen is also packed with enemies, bullets, and explosions. It’s safe to say that this game is a handheld visual spectacle.

The new card collecting feature really adds to the gameplay mechanic. When you collect certain cards, you gain anything from simple heath cards to upgrades for the excellent special weapons. If you are a completionist and want to collect all of the upgrades, you will have to search each of the five missions with the finest eye for detail. You will also have to avoid dying otherwise you will lose all of your hard-earned cards. The inclusion of this card collecting mechanic provides some depth that many gamers had found lacking in the previous Metal Slug titles. It also provides an incentive to re-play through the earlier levels before trying to tackle the more difficult later stages.

The core mechanic is still a run ‘n gun action game, there are no puzzles to solve or keys to collect. After you pick one of the two playable characters, you are dropped straight into the first mission carrying only a knife and a pistol and a few grenades. You must run, jump and shoot your way through a series of levels containing masses of evil minions and destroying the often huge mechanised bosses at the end of the level. In order to aid you in this epic series of missions you must rescue captured POW’s. Doing so reveals weapon pick-ups. These range from machine guns, shotguns and even flesh roasting flamethrowers. There are more than a dozen weapons which you can pick-up and you will need to utilise them wisely. The later levels are almost impossible to complete just using your trademark pistol.

The star of the game is the Metal Slug tank-like vehicles which are scattered throughout the levels. You can climb into these beasts and dish out some serious damage. These bizarre little armored vehicles are stocked with rockets and machine-gun bullets. They can also jump large gaps using their hydraulics as if they were legs.

There’s no denying how tough this game is. You will start to feel the pinch during level two and the scale of difficult only skyrockets after that. The fifth and final level seems to drag on forever, sending players up a tall tower full of heavily armed troops and tanks. Luckily, unlike most Metal Slug games, you are provided with a health meter as well as some respite with the immense levels being split into sections. This keeps the difficulty measured as you can restart at the section you died at rather than having to restart the entire game. The challenge although difficult also never feels unfair as with a combination of good reflexes and loads of practice you can and will finish the game.

Metal Slug’s foray onto the GBA was a resounding success. Even though this is a brand new title, it contains the sights, sounds, and charm of the Neo Geo games that it’s based on. The addition of a card collecting quest doesn’t get in the way of the classic run and gun design at all. Instead, it gives players one more incentive to play through each level multiple times as if the crazy animations and big explosions weren’t already incentive enough!

Review Score
  • 9/10
    Gameplay - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Graphics - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
9/10

Summary

Metal Slug’s foray onto the GBA was a resounding success. Even though this is a brand new title, it contains the sights, sounds, and charm of the Neo Geo games that it’s based on. The addition of a card collecting quest doesn’t get in the way of the classic run and gun design at all. Instead, it gives players one more incentive to play through each level multiple times as if the crazy animations and big explosions weren’t already incentive enough!

DrChris

Chris McAuley is a Northern Irish born author, comic book and gaming columnist who has now branched out from talking about comics to helping create them. An acclaimed colourist for 2000 AD and Marvel he has worked on flagship titles such as Judge Dredd, Roy of the Rovers and Hulkverines. Chris also has a commitment to the Indie scene being an inker and colourist for 'The Lang Way Hame' a Scottish comic which is tipped for an award later this year. With close ties to heroes of the industry such as the 'Godfather of British comics' Pat Mills and Spawn creator Todd McFarlene,