I have Commando: Steel Disaster to thank for one of the best impulse purchases that I’ve made in a long time. And hey, if Parish is right, it may indirectly be the best thing that game has ever done. Mission complete?
Anyway, it was a mixture of Commando’s obvious comparison to Metal Slug, the praise that I had heard for the new DS iteration of SNK’s series at the last Tokyo Game Show and Kishi’s comment about the game’s badly resized sprites that had me thinking about Metal Slug 7 when I spotted it at a Book-Off a couple weeks ago. I ended up picking it up despite the rumblings I had heard on TTT because I realized that I really wasn’t all that familiar with Metal Slug. I had played and enjoyed it a couple times in the arcades, but I had kind of missed out on the franchise’s heyday. The things you miss when you can’t drop $650 on a Neo-Geo. (Yeah, I know it was around on the PS2 and GBA too, but….)
But suffering from SRPG fatigue as I was, the time seemed ripe to rescue the Peregrine Falcons from that pile of discount DS games and do the series justice. Imagine my surprise when I was hooked after the first five minutes. Turns out that I really like over-the-top animation, lots of explosions, and Eri. Who knew? I count myself a Contra fan, but Metal Slug separates itself in a way that I also appreciate about Gunstar Heroes — you don’t die or take damage unless the enemy actually takes a swipe at you. I’ve said before that one thing that I look for in games, especially action games, is a feeling of power. And when you’re ripping through dozens of enemy soldiers at a time with nothing but a dagger, you’ve got that feeling. You’ve got it a lot.
Oh, and those gigantic bosses are pretty damned cool too.
Yeah, I can see that Metal Slug 7 has some sprite issues, and that SNK could have really made better use of the touchscreen. I’m also disappointed that there’s no co-op play, and that SNK’s only real solution for adding replay value to the core seven missions was to introduce a Contra 4-style mission mode. But hey, I like Metal Slug 7 in the same way that I like Gundam SEED. They both served as my gateway into two great franchises. And now that I’ve finished Metal Slug 7, the real fun can begin. The best part about discovering a great old franchise on your own terms is the realization that there’s more than what you’ve seen to be discovered and enjoyed. It won’t be long before I pick up a PSP, and I’ve still got a whole Metal Slug anniversary collection to play.
Consider my appetite whetted.