SNK did a decent job of distilling the action part of Metal Slug into a portable game. Metal Slug 7 is exactly what you would expect from the series: fast and furious 2D shooting. SNK stuck to their formula by keeping Metal Slug 7 a 2D platformer without shoving any forced touch screen control. The bottom screen has a mini-map that shows where POWs are, but I found myself more focused reacting to the stream of bullets I didn’t have time to look at the bottom screen.
There are seven stages to complete which take players from a scrap yard at the beginning to tundra near the end. The snow stage has a welcome addition, Slug Gigant, a giant mecha that looks like it was glued together from scrap metal. Once you jump in Slug Gigant you take up nearly the entire vertical length of the screen and crush enemies with laser blasts. Playing with Slug Gigant in the winter stage was one of the highlights of Metal Slug 7, but unless you’re trying to beat the game with one credit you can blow through Metal Slug 7 in less than two hours.
Combat missions extend Metal Slug 7 and as you beat them you’re rewarded with flirtatious conversations with the drill instructor, Cynthia. Whether you care about chatting with Cynthia or not the combat missions do a fine job of extending Metal Slug 7. Fans of the series probably expect something short and sweet so the combat missions are like a bonus. Cynthia’s missions have specific rules like not getting hit at all which are challenges Metal Slug veterans can appreciate.
However, veterans will miss one key element, multiplayer. No reason was ever given why SNK chose to cut out two player support. Theoretically, SNK could have pulled a Monster Hunter Portable and designed Metal Slug 7 for local four player frenzies or they could have included online multiplayer via Nintendo Wi-Fi. I would have been content with just basic co-op, but this isn’t even part of the package. The other problem with the lack of multiplayer is we know an Xbox Live Arcade release of Metal Slug 7 is looming. SNK hasn’t said much about the Xbox 360 port and we don’t know for sure if co-op play will be part of it. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it is though. This doesn’t mean anything if you only have a DS, but if you have an Xbox 360 you might want to wait to see if a superior version of Metal Slug 7 comes out for a cheaper price.
Metal Slug 7 also left an odd taste after I beat it. This might sound odd if you never played a Metal Slug game, but Metal Slug 7 isn’t odd at all. In other Metal Slug games SNK turned players into zombies that barf blood and morphed them into monkeys. Then SNK had players gun down enemies like Mars People and supernatural demons that weren’t generic soldiers. Metal Slug 7 is missing the wacky and often humorous personality the series is known for. If the game didn’t have Metal Slug on the title it could blend in as a Metal Slug clone like Commandos: Steel Disaster. This doesn’t necessarily make Metal Slug 7 a bad game in the series as much as a stylistically uninspired one.
Images courtesy of SNK / Ignition Entertainment.