Metal Slug 7 Review

Metal Slug 7Metal Slug 7 (Available exclusively on the Nintendo DS)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players 1
Genre: Shooter
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Developer: SNK Playmore
Release Date: November 18th, 2008

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Metal Slug 7 T for teen because of blood and violence, and I think that about sums it up. This is a 2D sprite-based run and gun shooter in the vein of Contra. Enemies die in unique ways, from being blown up, stabbed, or just shot to death. Each death features a nice splattering of blood, so younger children should be kept away.

Plays Like: Have you played any other run and gun shooter before? If so you know what to expect. You move from left to right shooting everything that moves, and even a few things that don’t, all while dodging billions of incoming bullets.

Review Basis: Finished the game on Normal a while back, but upon revisiting the game for this review, Easy was the way to go. That’s right, I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Metal Slug is one of the best franchises in SNK’s robust library of titles. Originally released 17 (!) years ago in 1996 for the Neo Geo AES/MVS, it was an instant arcade hit. Pretty much anyone that grew up playing Contra immediately feel in love with Metal Slug. It was the extreme difficulty, the ridiculous humor, and the absolutely stunning audio visual presentation that put it on top of the run and gun shooters of the time. Fast forward to 2008 when SNK Playmore released Metal Slug 7 for the DS, and unsurprisingly the series hasn’t changed one iota. If it weren’t for the exclusion of one core feature, this could have easily been one of the best entries in the series, alas that’s not the case.

Metal Slug 7_3The Great:

For better or worse this is Metal Slug. It’s crazy hard, features insane humor, and has some of the most spot-on gameplay you will ever experience. Weapons are varied and fun to use, old and new Slugs (vehicles of mass destruction) are a blast…no pun intended, and the story is just nuts. This is actually a prequel to Metal Slug 4, but unless you’re hardcore you won’t know why, or even care so there’s little point in going into details. The classic graphics are extremely detailed and look wonderful on the DS’ screens. There are some truly amazing animations if you can spare a second to look at them that is.

As you make your way through each level, you can swap between your standard gun, and two upgrades, as well as lob grenades at incoming enemies. Hostages still need to be rescued, and it’s a must because of the awesome power-ups they award. Everything comes together just as you expect, except this time the insane action is on the DS.

Metal Slug 7_1The Good:

+ Bottom screen displays a map, and while that may not sound overly useful with a simple concept game like this, the fact is it can be helpful in locating where hostages are and for letting you know how much further you need to traverse to reach the stage’s exit. Outside that, the bottom screen isn’t used at all.

+ Sticking with what works. SNK could have easily slapped on some touch controls or something else, but they stuck to their guns and delivered a balls to the wall action game that uses buttons and the d-pad. Good on you SNK!

+ Six playable characters. Yeah I know, that’s a pro? Yes it is! Each character has their own personality and it shows by the way they use their weapons, pause to relax when they defeat a boss, etc. If that doesn’t do it for you, well six is better than one or two right?

+ Very portable friendly. The entire game can be completed in under an hour. It’s designed this way though, as it’s meant to be played over and over again. So even if you only have ten minutes and you have to repeat that first stage a few times, believe me, it’s well worth it in the long run.

Metal Slug 7_2The Bad:

– No multiplayer whatsoever. This is ultimately what destroys the entire package. How SNK could have overlooked this is beyond me. While I never expected a WiFi mode, which would have been awesome in its own right, at least a local multiplayer mode would have been sufficient. Instead we’re given nothing at all, and that’s not what Metal Slug, or even SNK, is about. These guys make awesome arcade games, games that are meant to be played with other people. Playing a run and gun shooter alone feels like having only one Twix in a Twix bar, complete lunacy!

Metal Slug 7_4The Lowdown:

Metal Slug 7 features so many awesome elements, from the excellent production values, to the fantastic gameplay, but is ultimately kept down by the lack of a multiplayer mode. Going back and playing this game in 2013 still makes me scratch my head. How is it that 1996’s Metal Slug for the AES/MVS holds up better than a game released in 2008? The answer is because even though this game is more advanced, not being able to experience the madness with a buddy is just criminal. As such, you’re much better off picking up Metal Slug XX which is available on the PSP via the PSN, and on Xbox Live, although be warned now that while they do feature multiplayer, they haven’t been optimized for those platforms at all. Graphics appear muddied, the game is played in a 4:3 aspect ratio, and virtually nothing new has been added to the overall package. OK so maybe this is the way to go after all.

Final Score: 7.5/10

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