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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Review

Metal Slug 7 (Nintendo DS)

For the latest release in the long-running arcade shooter series, SNK Playmore has chosen the unlikely platform of the Nintendo DS for the release of Metal Slug 7. While it stays true to the original formula in most regards, there are a few changes such as a new coin collecting mechanic, a new training mode and a cool mapping system. For the most part, itís the Slug youíve come to know and love, with the classic play-mechanics, unique hand-drawn art-style and challenging levels that have become the series trademark. While the action takes place on a smaller screen, Metal Slug 7 delivers the arcade quality action players have come to expect


After six installments and countless missions, you'd think that the series would have become stake. However, the process of scaling the game back a bit for the handheld Nintendo DS goes a long way in making what's old feel new again. Most of the game should feel familiar, since Metal Slug 7 uses many of the same sprites and animation as the original games have, with the player-characters and enemies returning in their usual form. As usual, the objective for each level is to blast through, collect weapons power-ups and rescue any hostages you find along the way. You'll be able to use a variety of the traditional Metal Slug weapons including heavy machine guns, missiles and grenades. These can wipe out the normal enemy soldiers with little effort, but there are also harder boss characters as well. Along the way, you'll be able to jump into a variety of different Slugs, which are power-up vehicles or suits that allow for greater firepower and additional protection from enemy fire. Metal Slug has always had an ingenious system of these, and this installment is no exception. The level designs are very well designed, and most players will find the multi-tiered platforming and layouts quite challenging. Each level is substantial in its length and some of the boss battles are quite vexing. However, Metal Slug 7's overall level of difficulty seems to be a bit lower than some of the previous installments. This is probably a concession to the more casual DS audience, and while it makes the game less challenging, it doesn't make the basic mechanics any less enjoyable.

One of the other new aspects of Metal Slug 7 lies in its coin system where collecting these during your main mission helps to unlock some additional content in other modes. The game has a number of coins and other special items that you can collect during its seven stages as well, which adds to the replay value. It does feel a bit short, but there are several levels of difficulty available with increases the challenge and difficulty to harder levels. The game's play-action and controls should feel immediately familiar for veterans of the series and Metal Slug 7's overall feel is in line with the previous games. Players use the D-pad to move their soldiers over platforms while the DS face buttons are used to fire. This makes for a straightforward, intuitive title that most players should be able to pick up and play almost instantly. Most of the action is contained on a single screen in the upper section, while the bottom is used to display a map, which players can navigate using the stylus, which is a relatively minor concession. Otherwise, this plays like a strictly traditional Metal Slug title, though its extensive roster of 7 playable characters at least brings some diversity to the action.

From a technical standpoint, the game is one of the better 2D releases on the DS, with the arcade series' legendary smooth gameplay animations and robust visuals very much in evidence, even in this scaled back version. While many of the sprites have been used in other games, their somewhat simple appearance these days feels charming on the smaller scale DS screen. Metal Slug 7's soundtrack also stays true to the feel and style of the arcade games, along with the majority of the trademark sound effects. Overall, this is an excellent version of the classic series, and while it's not quite as good as having a Neo-Geo in the palm of your hand, Metal Slug 7 is as close as you can get on the DS.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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