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Platform

PSP

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

SNK Playmore

 

Developer

SNK Playmore

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

February 2007

 

 

- 6 and a half games for a mere $40

- Most of these games are excellent

- An ideal portable game

 

 

- Load times abound

 

 

Review: Metal Slug Anthology (Wii)

Review: Alien Hominid (GC)

Review: Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (PSP)

 

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Metal Slug Anthology

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

The PSP takes a lot of flack for housing a lot of ports of older games, but sometimes that's not necessarily a flaw. The Capcom and Namco collections are excellent, and there's something extraordinarily appealing about being able to carry around a tiny arcade in your pocket.

 

metal slug anthology          metal slug anthology

 

Now, it's universally agreed upon that Metal Slug is pretty awesome. Thankfully, SNK has realized this, and despite their financial ups and downs, have committed themselves to supplying as much Metal Slug as possible to the general public. They're doing us all a favor, because it's one of the best arcade-style games still being released. It's all simple -- run forward, shoot stuff, don't die -- but the humorous characters, two player simultaneous action, and extremely high quality 2D graphics have garnered many, many loyal fans.

 

The Metal Slug Anthology for the PSP features a total of six and half (Metal Slug X is a mere update of the second game) entries in the series. It also retails for $40. Four years ago, Metal Slug 3 by itself was released alone for the Xbox for that price. You don't even want to know how much people pay for the Neo Geo home

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cartridges of some of these games - some of them reach into the quadruple digits. This anthology, one can imagine, is an extraordinary value.

 

Granted, not all of the games are spectacular. None of them are outright bad, but since the formula never really changed, some of them do lack inspiration. Metal Slug 3 is 

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probably the pinnacle of the series, offering multiple routes, tons of cool levels (including a part where you can turn into a zombie and attack with a giant geyser of vomit) and one of the most epic final stages known to man. Metal Slug 4 and 5 were designed by a different company, and while they have the best music of the games, they feel a bit recycled and even a bit dull at parts.

 

Metal Slug 6 is the most recent game in the collection, having been published in 2006. It's the only game in the collection that ran on the Atomiswave board, rather than the SNK Neo Geo system, although you'd probably be hard pressed to find a real difference. The backgrounds are higher res and there are some cool scaling effects during bigger bosses, but otherwise it looks about the same as the other games. The coolest addition here is the ability to play as Ralf and Clark, also known as the Ikari Warriors, known from their own 80s arcade game, as well as The King of Fighters series. Both carry some of their signature moves (the Vulcan Punch for Ralf, and the Super Argentine Backbreaker, an awesome suplex, for Clark), although the rest of the cast has diversified as well. Marco has the most powerful standard hand gun, while Eri can toss grenades in any direction. Fio starts off every life with a Heavy Machine Gun in backup, which brings up another improvement - you can now store up to two special weapons at once and switch between them, much like Contra 3 for the SNES. While the levels are still a bit dull compared to some of the earlier games (except for a section where you get to ride the mother alien from Metal Slug 3), all of these little advancements turn it into one of the freshest installments in a long time.

 

metal slug anthology           metal slug anthology

 

For all intents and purposes, this is almost exactly the same as the Metal Slug compilation for the Wii that came out a few months ago. Unfortunately, that version had a number of annoying quirks, and thankfully, nearly all of them have been fixed. The game controls remarkably well with the PSP d-pad, and the hitflashes are back. However, Metal Slug Anthology falls victim to the same problem as a lot of PSP games - load times. There are tons of them. It can easily be two minutes from the time that you put in the UMD to the time where you can actually play the game. There's even some loading on the character select screen - it will actually pause for about five seconds when you switch between characters. Once you actually start the game, everything becomes much smoother. The action is also plagued by some split second pauses that occur (usually during huge explosions) and it still loads in between segments, but otherwise, it barely affects the gameplay.

 

Which is remarkably faithful in practically every way. There are three display options to change the various aspect ratios. However, since Metal Slug 6 originally ran at a higher resolution, some of the details, such as the text, look a bit smudged. You can save the games at any time (except for Metal Slug 6), which greatly adds to the pick-up-and-play value as a portable games.

 

The other aspects are the same as the Wii version. Since this is a totally new set of ports, some the extra missions found in the other home ports, such as the training camp modes, are totally gone, although there's a huge database of music and art that basically makes up for it. You can even save them to your memory stick to play later, or use graphics as wallpaper. Most of these need to be unlocked by playing the games and earning tokens. You also have the ability to enable or disable unlimited continues, which already makes it preferable to the monstrously difficult Xbox port of Metal Slug 3.

 

Metal Slug Anthology is already a tremendous deal for your money, and the fact that it's portable makes it all the sweeter, especially since you can save the game when you quit and return to where you left off. It's definitely worth checking out for anyone into chaotic old school mayhem.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(March 14, 2007)

 

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