Metal Slug is a staple of the Neo Geo, a system known almost exclusively for it's fighting games. Unlike other side scrolling shooters of the time that attempted to go for the realistic approach, Metal Slug relies on humor while still delivering excellent twitch gameplay. The first NGPC version of this game of course doesn't have the same level of detail as it's arcade counterpart, however the translation is faithful in nearly every respect. You play as a solider of the "Peregrine Falcons," who are at war with some kind of evil dictator or terrorist organization. Does the story really matter in these kinds of games? All that matters is there's a lot of explosions and a huge body count, both of which this game delivers in droves.
At the begriming you have the option to selecting between several different characters (including the usual Rambo type, a nerdy girl with glasses, etc.) However it looks like the differences in each character is visual only, as far as I can tell each one plays the same. You get the same unlimited handgun and grenades as from the arcade game, the assorted shotgun, flamethrower, heavy machine gun, rocket launchers, etc, as well as the infamous jumping multidirectional Metal Slug assault tank.
Some levels also have you flying a little snub nosed Jet plane. One thing that is different is that each level has non-linear elements involved. For example enter a door or passage way and you take a different path, or et shot down in the plane and you need to complete a separate segment on foot. Such path choosing does a lot for the multiple replay value.
The graphics don't have the same kind of detail or color depth as the arcade game but what is there looks good. The characters have extremely smooth animations, including all of the funny death animations of the enemy soldiers (shot, blown up, stabbed, burned to death, etc.) There are also less enemy soldiers on the screen at any given time, however this balances out as the screen is much smaller. The game still looks and feels surprisingly close to it's big brother.
There is a big hit in the sound department however. The funny screams and howls just didn't make it into the NGPC's tiny cartridge. Pistol shots and explosions sound muted, while background music is sparse at best. Seeing how large this game actually is though it's surprising how much they managed to squeeze in.
Overall Metal Slug 1st mission doesn't win any awards (especially nowadays with the superior GBA games in the series.) It's hard to recommend this one to casual fans. Completists of the series will find it a welcome addition, as well as one of the best games available on SNK's ill-fated handheld.
Graphics: Small, undetailed sprites and lack of color is offset by extremely fluid animation.
Sound: Not very good.
Gameplay: A near exact replica of it's arcade counterpart. The ability to save and multiple paths through each level adds a lot to replay value.
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