I am a huge fan of Metal Slug. One of my fondest memories is going to Spain, finding a Metal Slug 2 cabinet hidden in the back corner of the bar, and pumping about one hundred quid worth of holiday money into it. It was a good time. I have no idea what Spain looks like, but I do know what Metal Slug looks like. Metal Slug First and Second Mission Double Pack is kind of like Metal Slug, if Metal Slug was on a handheld, half the pack was awful, and the other half was completely missing.
Metal Slug – Only Smaller
Let’s get the “working” game out of the way first. Metal Slug First Mission is a mess, but not one that doesn’t have some redeeming qualities. This looks and plays like a Metal Slug game, just on a smaller screen with graphics that aren’t as flashy. That means side-scrolling 2D shooting action, plenty of guns and loads of mooks to test those guns on.
The game will take roughly 2 hours to beat, and those hours are split over a fair number of brief missions that one could say were bite-sized. This makes sense as First Mission was released on the Neo Geo Pocket Colour, and shorter stages gel nicely with handheld experiences (and battery life…). Surprisingly enough, First Mission also has a few vehicles to mess around with such as the eponymous Metal Slug tank and a rather swanky jet.
There is certainly a lot of variety in the package, it’s just a shame that First Mission is an absolute slog to play through. Controls are one of the two major offenders here. I am talking about input delay so bad that you may as well not play the game. Sure Marco can run, jump. Shoot in two directions and throw grenades – just not always when you tell him to. I felt like I was fighting the game constantly, and that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Although that taste was preferable to the game’s performance, which is abysmal. It’s unacceptable at best – barely scraping the double digits, and unplayable at worst – barely able to hold a single one. The game is a glorified slideshow, and whilst this kind of thing was more accepted back in the days of the Neo Geo Pocket Colour, it is far from acceptable now.
This is a crying shame because First Mission looks surprisingly good all things considered. The graphics are an obvious step back from the mainline Metal Slug titles, but a lot of the charm, animations and style absolutely carry over to this game. The same can’t be said for the sound, however. Effects are low quality, weak and repetitive and the music doesn’t fare much better. I think I recognised some remixed versions of classic tunes, but it’s hard to tell.
Onto what this double pack offers outside of the shooty-bang-bang. You are able to rewind time and zoom in. That’s more or less it. Rewinding the game back a few seconds certainly helps alleviate some of the game’s challenges, but so would a decent framerate. The game runs at its native aspect ratio, so zooming in lets you get a closer look at what’s going on. It works well, but you do miss out on the fancy borders which are designed to look like a Neo Geo Pocket Colour.
Metal Slug Second Mission MIA
What the double pack doesn’t offer, as of writing this review, is the “double” part. I held off on reviewing this game for a while and sent numerous emails to get some clarification as to what was going on here, but I got no response. I reached out to other outlets, and they have a similar issue – Second Mission is currently not downloading when you buy the pack. As a result, I can’t review Second Mission. I can, however, say that it’s not there and the double pack is broken as a result.
Overall, Metal Slug Double Pack is not worth your time or money. The only game that’s playable can only barely be considered playable in its current state. The missing game is just the icing on the stale, slightly mouldy cake. Give this pack a miss, there are much better Metal Slug games on the market. I doubt the inclusion of the promised Second Mission will do much to change my stance.
For notifications when the latest article drops, follow me on Twitter @gameswithtoasty. Alternatively, you can join the Games With Toasty Facebook page or follow my Podcast. I even have a YouTube channel and Stream on Twitch! Happy gaming.