legendary Metal Slug series has always been an elusive beast. First appearing on
the company’s legendary Neo-Geo arcade system, this well-reviewed title hit
the hardcore gaming community squarely between the eyes with its stripped-down
incredibly addictive, classic play mechanics. Another version made an appearance
on the Saturn, but the trick here was that it was an import-only game, those
lucky enough to have a copy of this outstanding edition were loath to part with
it, and thus the game fetched a pretty penny in online auctions.
the series was given not one but two shots on SNK’s ill-fated portable system
Slug’s levels are quite challenging with enemies coming at you from many
directions at once. It’s very reminiscent of Contra in the way it controls
with the added feature of being able to jump into one of several different Metal
Slugs, armored vehicles which increase your firepower exponentially and allows
you to take multiple hits before dying. There are four different types of these
in all throughout the game, as well as numerous power-ups which include rocket
launchers and grenades. The best thing about Metal Slug X are its huge,
screen-filling bosses which take dozens of hits to destroy and make for some
extremely impressive adversaries and are a pleasant throwback to the more
innocent Genesis and SNES days of a decade ago. This is, as is the series
reputation, a very difficult game that will take all your skill to master and
beat. It makes no difference; you are going to need skill and excellent
reflexes. Of course, this is all part of the Metal Slug mystique – and very
well deserved. However good you are, there’s little doubt that you’ll need
to hit the continue button frequently to get very far in the game.
Slug has evolved with each installment and those who’ve followed the series
through its journey from system to system know that each installment has
something new. MSX is no exception to this rule and introduces new playable
characters; there are now four in all with some old favorites joining new faces.
Additionally, players can go into combat school mode to tune up their skills or
take a journey into the gallery mode to learn more about the game’s back
story. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the sheer fun of the games, which
is alive and well, and shines brightly with this installment not diverging from
the successful formula enough to cause alarm.
Cynics might complain that this game has been done before and maybe it does feel just a bit dated in comparison to today’s more sophisticated titles. However, the simple controls and thumb-blistering gameplay make it very easy to get hooked on its addictive play. However, Metal Slug X is extremely hard to beat – giving it a high replay value, especially for those willing to make the effort to go through the game honestly without cheating or leaning on the continues too much. Attempting to make a game in the mold of this classic formula is difficult and probably not really worth it from a commercial standpoint. Yet that’s exactly what Metal Slug X has successfully done. This means that it is a bit of a rarity these days when games of its type are becoming scarcer by the moment, one needs to really stop sometimes and appreciate these small treasures. While this type of game is becoming less and less common, Agetec deserves credit and thanks for bringing this out and players who remember the golden age of the 16-bit consoles owe it to themselves to seek out and play this outstanding title, for it may be one of the last of its kind.