Welcome back to Badass-uary! For this entry, I wanted to talk about the baddest and most kick ass game franchise I know: Metal Slug! To do this, I went on the hunt for Metal Slug Anthology, the manliest compilation ever conceived! And when I couldn’t find it locally, I dropped $20 for it on PSN! It’s easily the best $20 I’ve ever spent. But I’ve never paid for any kind of sexual services, so I doubt I’m a good point of reference on the “money-to-pleasure” ratio.
Moving on and away from the awkward silence, let’s take a look at one of my favorite games of all time. But be warned: Shit’s about to get manly!
Console: Playstation 2, PSP, Wii, PSN
Developer: Terminal Reality (Developed the Anthology Compilation)
Publisher: SNK Playmore
Release Year: 2006/2007
The Metal Slug series is known for two things: its amazing art design, and its brutal difficulty. These aspects are translated over brilliantly in this anthology. Each game’s a straight port from its Neo Geo cartridge, meaning they’re hard as shit but at least pretty to look at. The games being ports also makes $20 sound really good when each game originally cost $250 – $350. Considering the Neo Geo was like $700, it’s no surprise I never knew anybody with a Neo Geo in my neighborhood.
There are seven games in this anthology. Holistically, they’re essentially the same game. Sure, there are small additions here and there on each title, but most of the additions aren’t substantial. I always viewed each game as an expansion pack for the first game, and that’s fine by me.
What you can expect from each game is about 30 – 45 minutes of good, old-fashioned co-op run-n-gun action with great hand-drawn animation, peppered with a lot of charm and humor. Most of the games’ humor comes from the enemy soldiers’ over-the-top reactions and the General Morden’s tendency to lose his pants. But the main gag here is the soldiers’ silliness and the games’ cartoony art style juxtaposed with the graphic scenes of war, death and gore. Putting these things together makes for a unique and startlingly unforgettable experience, especially for the uninitiated. And I couldn’t love the game more for it!
I think it’s finally time to jump into the meaty part of this article, don’t you think? TO THE GAMES!
Game: Metal Slug
Release Date: 1996
Metal Slug is where it all started. From its trademark humor and difficulty to saving P.O.W.s to the announcer yelling “Rocket Lawn Chair!” when you get the rocket launcher, MS created that magic Oh, and let’s not forget the first time you slice open a soldier stupid enough to get near you. That’s magical, too.
You only get to play as Marco and Tarma in this first entry, and, as difficult as this game is, I’d say it’s the easiest in the franchise. It also happens to be my favorite, partly because it isn’t as hard as the others. I used to pick it up every month or so and blaze through it in half an hour.
Metal Slug is a must play for any gamer.
Game: Metal Slug 2
Release Date: 1998
Metal Slug 2 brings in two more playable characters, the gals Fio and Eri. Because what could make a game about tanks and shooting and explosions better? Boobs, that’s what! MS2 also brings in the slow down. There are tons of areas where the frame rate takes a hit. Personally, this isn’t that big a deal to me. The game slows down when too much shit is on the screen, so I always used it to my advantage to dodge.
MS2 also introduces new slugs, like the Camel Slug, and character transformations. In this game, you can be changed into a mummy that’s slow and terrible at everything, or you can transform into a fatty, which makes you awesome! MS2 also introduces the Martian/Rebel Alliance and the Martian Double Cross, which was a pretty cool addition that becomes a running gag throughout the franchise.
Aside from the changes mentioned, there isn’t much else new. But what’s wrong with more of the same when it’s so kick ass! Metal Slug 2 is my second favorite in the series, even over X. That may sound stupid, but I have my reasons, which you’ll discover later in this article.
If you don’t mind a little slow down, play you some Metal Slug 2.
Game: Metal Slug X
Release Date: 1999
Metal Slug X is a re-release of Metal Slug 2 with some updates. It’s exactly the same as MS2 except X eliminates the slow down, adds mummy dogs (because that’s what the game was missing, apparently), and incorporates more Martian involvement. I honestly don’t like any of the updates for this game. I didn’t mind the slow down, the mummy dogs are assholes, and they put the Martians in a spot that ruined one of the game’s set pieces, which will be discussed later in this article.
If the slowdown of 2 turned you off, then Metal Slug X is a better choice. But watch out for those stupid ass mummy dogs. The bastards…
Game: Metal Slug 3
Release Date: 2000
Metal Slug 3 is batshit crazy, and I love it! The general consensus is that this is the best game in the series, and it’s hard to argue. It’s just so damn good! It’s really hard, and the entire game doesn’t make any sense. Why am I fighting crabs on the first level? What, I’m fighting zombies now? That’s cool, but watch out for the Yetis! Then, suddenly, walking plants and snails! I don’t know what the hell is going on, but, honestly, that only makes it better.
The only firsts I can think of in this series are underwater stages (because everybody loves those) and branching paths in levels. The branching paths add replay value to an already highly replayable game and offer new experiences to those who are willing to find them.
Weird, unique, challenging, and fun, you’d be doing yourself a disservice missing out on Metal Slug 3. It’s Metal Slug at its finest.
Game: Metal Slug 4
Release Date: 2002
Metal Slug 4 decided to replace Tarma and Fio with a couple of jabronis who are never seen again in the franchise after this game so I never bothered learning their stupid names!
Anyway, MS4 tries to stand out from the rest of the series by introducing a new scoring system that has something to do with medals. I really have no idea how it works because I’m always too busy trying to survive and never have the time to figure it out. However, the game does introduce the very manly Double Heavy Machine Gun power up! Shooting tanks never felt so good!
MS4 is my least favorite in the bunch, but it’s still pretty awesome. Check it out.
Game: Metal Slug 5
Release Date: 2003
Metal Slug 5 is the black sheep of the Metal Slug family. It’s just weird, but not the good “Metal Slug 3” kind of weird. It’s more like the “Why the Hell did you do that?” kind of weird. The soldiers you had grown to know and love get replaced by some other dudes. Why’d you have to go and change them, SNK!? WHY!?
Tantrum aside, the enemies in MS5 don’t have the cartoony reactions like the soldiers in the other games, effectively changing the game’s tone and stripping it of its charm. Sure, the hand-drawn sprites and animations always look good, but things just aren’t the same without the soldiers…
This game also has a supernatural element to it with resurrecting cult members and demons and crap. It’s different, but I don’t hate it; in fact, I actually like the game. It’s easy compared to the rest of the franchise (excluding Metal Slug 1), which makes it ideal for quick playthroughs.
MS5 also did something awesome by introducing a slide move. Finally, a game with one-hit kills and constant enemy fire gets an evasion maneuver! This amazing addition will be the sole legacy of the weirdness that is Metal Slug 5!
Game: Metal Slug 6
Release Date: 2006/2007
Why would they get rid of the slide move!? It was so awesome!
As much of a blow as that is, at least General Morden and his band of merry men have returned! And they brought the Martians with them! Also along for the ride are newcomers to the series Ralph and Clark from – I shit you not – Ikari Warriors. You remember that run-n-gun game on the NES? Well, they’re back for more running-and-gunning, baby!
Metal Slug 6 is a huge leap forward for the series. In addition to the two new sweet playable characters, each character has their own abilities and stats. For example, Marco’s handgun is really powerful while Ralph can take two hits before he dies and can punch tanks until they explode!
You can now hold and cycle through two special weapons at a time, which means you can switch the Drop Shot for your handgun if you accidentally pick it up! There’s also a new scoring system that adds multipliers for constantly shooting things. You know a game’s badass when they reward recklessness and wastefulness! Melee attacks can now be done whenever you want as well, which is okay, I guess. Also, the Zantatsu Sword power up is added to your arsenal, but it sucks so never mind.
There are new aliens in this game, and they force you, the Rebel Army, and the Martians to team up to take them out. It’s a funny enough premise, but I hate the new aliens. I’d rather fight the soldiers again. But, alas, that will have to wait until Metal Slug 7.
Go ahead and play you some Metal Slug 6. It’s one of the best in the series.
Here’s how I like my games: The level begins, you kill a bunch of shit as you move to the right, then a huge boss shows up and you kill the hell out of it! The Metal Slug series does this formula very well, and it has some sweet ass bosses to boot. Here are my favorites.
10.) Metal Slug 6 – Mission 4 (Snake Boss)
I really like the Snake boss because it has so many sweet spots – those areas where you can stand and just unload without fear of getting hit yourself. Finding a sweet spot is like discovering a $10 bill in a shirt that’s been hanging in your closet for awhile! I also like how you have to run on its back to avoid falling into the water below. It’s actually quite humorous.
9.) Metal Slug 3 – Final Mission (Rootmar)
I just love how freaking ugly this guy is. I also love how ridiculously obvious his weak point is. Rootmar has this one attack where you can only dodge it by either jumping in a very specific spot near its brain or jumping into the Metal Slug and then jumping back out. It’s fun learning the timing, and you feel like a badass once you get it down.
8.) Metal Slug 3 – Mission 2 (Meteorite Boss)
I have no idea who those big dudes are in the above pic. All I know is that the real boss is the meteorite in the center of them, and the weirdest part of this battle is when it emerges and starts dropping stone slabs covered in alien writing on your head. The best part is that these guys are never explained. I guess they made the zombie outbreak found on this level?
Of all the aliens throughout the Metal Slug series, these guys are the most intriguing, and they only get about five minutes of your time. And that’s if you suck at killing things fast.
7.) Metal Slug 4 – Mission 4 (Giant Robot Head Boss)
This guy looks like a big Frankenstein’s creature. That’s good enough for me. He also has some weird claw thing he drops on you for some reason. Eventually, he shoots chemical-filled water balloons and soldiers out of his mouth, which are exactly the two things I’d make a giant robot shoot at people.
6.) Metal Slug 3 – Mission 1 (Giant Hermit Crab Boss)
The Hermit Crab boss is one of those scrolling bosses. I typically don’t like those, but the creativity and design of this boss is just so great. I like how the bridge your own keeps getting destroyed as the crab moves towards you. It makes the fight seem more intense!
5.) Metal Slug 5 – Final Mission (Demon Boss)
This guy looks pretty sweet, and he’s huge! When he flies toward you and that music plays, it’s freaking cool. There’s no other boss like him in the Metal Slug series. He also gets super bonus points for using a scythe. His only flaw is that he’s one of the easiest bosses in the entire franchise.
4.) Metal Slug 5 – Mission 4 (Sand Submarine Boss)
My favorite part about this fight is it’s in the desert. The rest of the level was a water stage. The screen directly before this fight had your guy fighting in underwater tubes like that one level in Earthworm Jim. You seriously exit a tube and your guy in running into a desert in the next screen getting attacked by a Sand Submarine. I feel like the game was already finished when one of the developers was like, “Dude, I totally made this awesome Sand Submarine boss! You should totally put him in!” Upon seeing this boss, the other developers were equally as smitten and decided to nix whatever water-themed boss they had and threw this guy in. Fuck logic! It’s a SAND SUBMARINE!
This boss also has a cool “Death From Above” attack that makes you look sweet when you dodge it, and that’s badass.
3.) Metal Slug 4 – Mission 2 (Allen O’Neil’s Tower Fortress)
Allen O’Neil is God’s answer to how men should be! He goes into a war shirtless, carries a huge gatling gun at all times, and screams “C’mere, boi!” when he wants to kill you. He also dies in every game and still comes back for the sequel (except in MS5, but only because it wasn’t manly enough to contain his presence).
In this battle, Allen decided to bring a Tower Fortress to the fight, because wouldn’t you if you could? I really like how you can destroy sections of it and the upper parts fall into place perfectly. But my favorite part has to be the sweet spot shown in the above pic. If you stay there, Allen’s huge canon (ladies) can’t hit you, and neither can the huge guns. If you can press the fire button fast enough, the missiles Allen drops get knifed instead of blowing up on you.
BECAUSE BADASSES STAB MISSILES!
2.) Metal Slug 2 & X – Mission 4 (Tower-Eating Boss)
This boss is just so weird and unique. I don’t think this guy could have been possible in any other game. Developers and publishers would have laughed the poor soul who thought it up out of existence. But nope! This is Metal Slug! That shit goes in level 2!
It’s a robotic snake – I think – that chases you as it swallows the tower you’re using to get away from it. It also shoots an enormous laser out of its mouth, which is always a crowd pleaser. The brilliance and balls it took to make this guy just blows my mind.
1.) Metal Slug 2 & X – Mission 4 (Battleship Tank Boss)
I’m a sucker for bosses that have multiple parts to destroy, and this Battleship Tank Boss has lots of guns to blast off of it because picking apart a huge enemy is always gratifying. It’s nice when the fight actually gets easier as it goes on. This battle’s also a scrolling fight, so staying on the move is a must. I always like that. It builds tension.
This thing also shoots huge shells at you that will launch you into the air if you jump on the explosion just right. It’s a more traditional boss, but what can I say? I’m a traditional kind of guy. I like my bosses to be huge tanks with lots of guns.
The Metal Slug series has a lot of badass moments. It was actually pretty tough to pick just ten and even harder to not put Allen O’Neil in every entry. The following are the baddest of the badass!
10.) Metal Slug 3 – Final Mission
The final mission in MS3 is about half the length of the game. No joke. It’s epic in every sense of the word. It starts out as an air raid against the Rebel Army that ends with a double cross from the Martians, prompting you to join forces with the Rebel Army to save your friend and Morden from the Martian Mothership. Also, the world.
The level goes on and on, and you’ll see and fight a lot of stuff. The final battle with Rootmar is pretty thrilling as you both free fall through the atmosphere. This mission is incredible on your first playthrough, but its novelty disappears on subsequent replays. It’s just too damn long.
9.) Metal Slug 3 – Elephant Slug (with Battery)
This area is the most pointless thing you can ever do in a video game. It’s a hidden area that yields no reward other than riding an elephant equipped with a turret and the powers of Zeus through a horde of zombies! Actually, that sounds pretty badass. This is totally worth it!
8.) Metal Slug 3 – Zombie Blood Barf
You are a zombie, and you puke blood out so powerfully that it destroys tanks and disintegrates soldiers. You win.
7.) Metal Slug 2 & X – Allen O’Neil vs. Killer Whale
After besting Allen in the previous game, he somehow returns for a rematch. This time, after killing him, he falls into the ocean and a random killer whale jumps up to devour him. When I leave this world, this is how I’d like to go.
Oh, but don’t worry. Allen returns in the next game, of course. That’s why I’m still holding out for Boba Fett!
6.) Metal Slug 2 & X – Teaming Up on the Martians
You and the Rebel Army coming together at the end of the third game is pretty awesome, but it was much better in 2 and X. After the Martian double cross, it’s you verses the alien fiend! You struggle to take down the UFO, and you finally take it down, only to realize that what you were fighting was only a piece of a much larger ship. You begin this new fight, and, as the fight goes on, Rebel soldiers start to pour in from both sides of the screen, throwing grenades at and shooting the alien threat. The soldiers even cover you with riot shields as you fight. Eventually, tanks start pouring in, and they even provide you with a Metal Slug. It’s a pretty incredible experience, and it gets topped off by a Rebel pilot reenacting that one scene from Independence Day. The whole thing is pretty damn amazing.
5.) Metal Slug 4 – Monkeying Around on the Final Mission
First off, you’re a monkey! Secondly, you’re a monkey with an Uzi! Thirdly, you’re clinging to pipes that are just out of the soldiers’ knife reach. This allows you to safely traverse the level as they vainly try to cut you. It’s so satisfying to finally feel invincible in a series that makes you feel so vulnerable all the time. Seriously, you can go through a huge chunk of this level as the monkey, and none of the soldiers or tanks can reach you. Life is good sometimes.
4.) Metal Slug 3 – Allen O’Neil & You vs. The Clones
Look at that man god as he shirtlessly mows down those clone bastards! You guys were in a dog fight against each other not even ten minutes ago, and now here you are together wrecking everyone’s shit! Words simply cannot describe the magnificence of this moment. It’s best just to press your head up against the screen in order to absorb some of the manliness.
3.) Metal Slug – Final Mission
The final mission in the original Metal Slug exemplifies the trope of “One-Man Army.” You start the mission by fucking chasing tanks, which is quickly followed by dozens of soldiers parachuting on top of you and climbing a mountain to get to you. Clearing them out leads to a scaffolding that explodes (because everything explodes in this series, and rightfully so), dropping you onto a ship that’s getting attacked by enemy air crafts. After shooting down everything in the sky, you have a small, soldier-filled trek before facing General Morden and his helicopter.
This entire level is just puking awesome all over the place! You really feel like a badass as you slaughter an entire army. And nothing’s better than slaughtering an entire army and then having a climactic battle against its leader in a helicopter. Nothing.
2.) Metal Slug 2 – Mission 4 Joyride
Though Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X are pretty much the same game, this part in 2 is ruined in the X re-release, as I alluded previously in this article. Basically, in MS2, you get a Metal Slug at the top of a hill, and you go down the hill destroying everything: the houses, the soldiers, their tanks, the ground. Everything. And it all explodes. It’s so great, and it’s incredibly satisfying because a.) you’re destroying everything with a freaking tank and b.) you have the High Ground advantage. In the Metal Slug series, it’s very rare when you’re not at a disadvantage, which is fine because badasses love being the underdog, but sometimes you just want to wreck shit, and this part in MS2 lets you do just that.
However, in X, they replaced the soldiers and tanks with the Martians, and they gave the Martians UFOs, giving them the advantage instead and effectively making this part suck. Way to go, Martians, you dicks!
1.) Metal Slug 2 & X – You vs. Public Transportation
Metal Slug 2 and X have a part where subway trains attack you. I’m not making this up; I’m not that awesome. They come straight for you, and you’re able to hold them back with just your handgun. It’s so freaking sweet! If you’re able to hit buttons really quickly, you can actually push the damn thing back with your bullets! My mind is too blown to even comprehend how amazing that is! If Metal Slug ever gets adapted into a movie, which it totally should, this part better be in it!
Metal Slug Anthology is a venerable compendium glorifying everything that’s great about slaughter, machismo, weaponry, destruction, and camaraderie. It’s the definition of a good time, and a perfect catharsis for the suppressed male ego we all have raging within. If you’ve even a passing interest in the Metal Slug series, then you probably already own this game. For anyone who doesn’t own Metal Slug Anthology, I understand; with all your mani-pedis and Twilight viewings and periods, how could you even find the time to play such a badass game?
For its staggering amount of testosterone-driven gameplay and badass scenarios, I give Metal Slug Anthology a 10 out of 10 – Liam Neeson!
Liam Neeson – Fun, full of excitement, and adored by many, this title has proven again and again that it’s worth playing. Despite its aged and repetitive mechanics, it continues to be badass and is still nice to look at, which I mean in a heterosexual, respectfully sort of way, of course. I mean, let’s see how good you look when you’ve been in the biz for as long as this title. I’m going to go arm wrestle and lift weights now.
Most Badass Moment – Allen O’Neil!