Maybe I’m completely off here, but I assume almost everyone knows what Metal Slug is. For those few who have no idea what it is, it’s a fast paced side-scrolling arcade shooter. That sounds like an understatement because it really is: a crazy side-scrolling game that throws enemy after enemy (mummy dogs, abominable snowmen, etc.), explosions, weapon upgrades, bombs, and of course, vehicles. Now all six (or six and a half if you count Metal Slug X) iterations of the game have been released on the Wii, so how does it fare?
After clicking through what seems like five thousand (okay, maybe just four) demo screens, I was finally greeted with the game selection screen. Figuring I might as well start in the beginning, I started with Metal Slug. I’m not one of those controller elitist, but I have to say, it was frustrating trying to find a control scheme that felt natural.
The Wii version of Metal Slug Anthology boasts of Wii exclusive controls. Unfortunately, most of them are gimmicky. There’s the arcade control: hold the wiimote vertically like an arcade joystick while using the nunchuk buttons as function buttons. The problem with this is that the wiimote didn’t seem very responsive and it’s tiresome to hold the wiimote vertically for long periods of time since there’s no base to rest your hand on. Then there’s the option to use the nunchuk for movement and firing, but the analog stick on the nunchuk just doesn’t feel right for making quick exactly movements, which every Metal Slug game demands. I had the same problem while using the GameCube controller in addition to my thumb slipping off the stick. The wii classic controller would be ideal but apparently, SNK couldn’t get the classic controller in time, so support for it in Metal Slug is nonexistent. I finally settled on using the wiimote horizontally.
Using the wiimote horizontally is still less than perfect when you need to use diagonals for things like shooting diagonally. Add to the fact that using a wiimote glove or skin makes it twice as hard, and you get a less than optimum control scheme. I was a bit disappointed that the developers did not assign grenade throwing to a key in this control scheme — you have to flick the wiimote to throw a grenade. This felt gimmicky at first, but after a few levels, it becomes natural; the times I need the grenades most are the times when I’m frantically shaking the controller anyway.
Controller frustrations aside, the side-scrolling run-and-gun explosive fun of Metal Slug games is still intact. The option to save anywhere has been added and even though each individual game is pretty short, it comes in handy if your house is burning and you have to turn off the Wii and run to safety. Or if you need to change your battery. The auto-shoot function is also a godsend since my thumbs probably would have fallen off after only half an hour of shooting.
While the die-hard Metal Slug snob may decry the less than perfect controller choices, if you can get used to one of the available control schemes, you may find yourself liking the game. Even though SNK could have released each game on its own and charged us separately, they decided to give us the whole thing in one big collection and for that I can forgive them for giving us less than perfect control options.
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