Itâ€™s been ten years since Metal Slug first stuck two fingers up to the world of polygons. To mark the occasion this compilation offers the first home version of Metal Slug 6, and itâ€™s also the first time that many will have been able to play Metal Slug 1 and 2 from the comfort of their sofa without a super expensive Neo Geo console under their TV.
After the dull Metal Slugs 4 and 5 – which were by new license holders SNK Playmore – Metal Slug 6 sets the series back on track. Two new playable characters taken from the legendary Ikari Warriors bring the total up to six (the original Metal Slug only had one playable character, incidentally), plus there are CG backdrops, a CD quality soundtrack, a choice of difficulty levels, smoother – less pixelated – visuals and sections where the camera zooms in and out to give a better view. The gameplay hasnâ€™t changed much from the run and gun formula, but the graphical enhancements are obvious from the start.
A quick rundown of the rest: Metal Slug 1 is short but still stands up well, with some of the largest sprites around. Metal Slug 2 has the largest variety in levels, ranging from a tomb filled with mummies to a battle on top of a train. Metal Slug X is merely a remix of Metal Slug 2, but is still worth playing. Metal Slug 3 is the most humorous, with one level themed around a zombie plague – if you get hit by one then you too become a zombie. Itâ€™s missing the mini-games from the console conversions though. To elaborate from earlier, Metal Slugs 4 and 5 donâ€™t really add anything new, and reuse a lot of jokes and animations. All seven can be completed in well under an hour each due to infinite continues, although to see the whole of Metal Slug 6 you need to play on hard mode.
Comparing this to EAâ€™s Need for Speed Carbon on Wii may seem daft, but thatâ€™s what weâ€™re going to do. Why? Because like that game, Metal Slug Anthology offers a grand total of five different control systems, none of which are perfect. You can hold the Wii remote like an arcade joystick in one hand, but itâ€™s much too sensitive and feels like a gimmick. When holding the Wii remote like an NES pad the button placement is bothersome. Using the nunchuk to move and the Wii remote to shoot and lob grenades is also cumbersome, leaving the only reasonable ways to play using either the classic controller or the GameCube pad. Even then the GameCubeâ€™s analogue stick doesnâ€™t feel natural for those whoâ€™ve experienced Metal Slug using the PlayStation 2â€™s sturdy d-pad.
The presentation isnâ€™t super slick either – just a dull menu to choose titles, a gallery with unlockable artwork and a badly translated interview to read. The emulation seems fine – they havenâ€™t been able to remove the frame rate problems from the earlier Slugs, but thatâ€™s not game breaking.
We were going to wind this review up by saying that on a console with a control system as unique as the Wiiâ€™s a collection of 2D shooters would be the last thing on your shopping list. But then we remembered that the Virtual Console is one of the Wiiâ€™s other biggest selling points, so if you bought your Wii for some retro fun rather than Wiimote waving then by all means open your wallet. Just make sure youâ€™ve got a couple of GameCube pads handy or a Classic Controller lying around.