Metal Slug 3 - Xbox

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Metal Slug 3  (Xbox)
Also for: PS2
Viewed: 2D Side-on, Scrolling Genre:
Shoot 'Em Up
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: SNK Soft. Co.: SNK
Publishers: Ignition Entertainment (GB)
Released: 19 Nov 2004 (GB)
2004 (JP)
Ratings: PEGI 12+
Connectivity: Xbox Live


Although Metal Slug 3 was born nearly five years ago, and was created exclusively for an even more exclusive console – the Neo Geo - news of its somewhat belated release on PAL home consoles met with a warm reception. SNK’s Metal Slug series, throughout its six existing incarnations (Metal Slugs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & X) has a very simple appeal, enticing those with a penchant for retro styled gaming.

It is an entirely 2D game, and as such, brings with it that purity of challenge. There are no puzzles to face, no branching routes to choose from, just plain old running left to right, firing off shots willy nilly and doing the occasional spot of jumping. Much like other traditional shoot ‘em up platformers, notable examples being Contra and Gunstar Heroes, the joy is in the combination of an extremely simple premise, but with a relatively tight difficulty level, therefore providing a substantial and long-lasting challenge.

In fact, many gamers will find Metal Slug 3’s challenge almost too substantial. In this bizarre world, populated by everything from zombies to aliens and unusually aggressive crustaceans, the portrayal of mortality is surprisingly shot kills. Bearing in mind that the later stages of the five levels see the screen absolutely smothered in projectiles – all heading straight for your bonce - you’ll note that it is extremely difficult for the inexperienced.

Assuming that you like the idea of a return to old school gameplay values, you will delight in what Metal Slug 3 has to offer. The character design and backdrops are superb, and although clearly very dated, thanks to their initial creation for the 16-bit Neo Geo, the way this game looks does make it stand out from the majority of more mainstream releases. Although this type of game was once a fairly generic standard, in this age of the 3D hack’n’slash it has reclaimed a certain air of originality.

Indeed, the Metal Slug series has always been fairly innovative, at least for the genre it represents, and things like the simultaneous two-player mode and plethora of silly vehicles (with tanks referred to as Metal Slugs) still bring a broad smile to your face. The massive, screen-filling end-of-level bosses are still as strikingly huge as they were when we first played this in the arcades, and the addictive value is equally prevalent. Thankfully this time we won’t be needing a satchel-full of twenty pence pieces.

It may seem strange for a game such as this to find its way onto ‘New Release’ line-ups in 2004, but it is not alone. Whilst certain elements of the gaming community complain about games being too big too complete, too generic, or simply examples of style over substance, the return of such classical 2D gameplay is well-timed. Indeed, not far behind Metal Slug 3 is Alien Hominid – a completely new game that cites the Metal Slug series as a primary influence - that'll be storming onto consoles soon; there is also a tide of assorted 2D beat ‘em ups and shoot ‘em ups – with the likes of Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, Neo Geo platform-mate King Of Fighters and Psyvariar 2 poking their heads up on both Sony and Microsoft’s current systems.

Although there will inevitably be much scepticism surrounding such mild re-workings of old games that are theoretically emulator-friendly on most modern PCs, SPOnG welcomes this revival as an interesting contrast to the usual 3D fare on offer. Metal Slug 3 is fun, funny and includes monkeys with machine guns. You won’t find us complaining.


Metal Slug 3  - Xbox Artwork

Metal Slug 3  - Xbox Artwork