Metal Slug: Mobile Impact

I've always been a big fan of the Metal Slug series, ever since the first game came out on the Neo Geo MVS console system. Remember that? King of Fighters! Art of Fighting! Garou Mark of the Wolves! Err.. Densha De Fist! You get the idea - the system was extremely overrepresented in the fighting genre. Still, nobody can deny that Metal Slug was a classic, and to date there are 5 sequels on MVS (and various other platforms), a Game Boy Advance game, two Neo Geo Pocket Color games and … well, a mobile game.

Metal Slug, as if you didn't know, is a scrolling shoot-em-up with amusing graphics and some rather impressive power ups. Imagine Contra, but with well crafted cartoony graphics, more screaming, more laughs and more laughs about screaming.

As you might imagine, a mobile phone version of Metal Slug in less than 150k isn't going to quite match up to a multi-megabyte MVS cartridge, but (distinct lack of sound effects aside) it's rather impressive. It gets the point across well, with slightly small but accurate representations of your character, the enemies, POWs, the whole shebang. It looks a little odd at first with the vertical orientation of the screen, but you get used to that quickly. Boss fights are simplified as well - you face helicopters as bosses, at least for the first few missions. The number of extra weapons you use is cut back a bit as well - I've only found rockets, flame shot or heavy machine gun so far.

The control method is reasonable, but a bit unwieldy for jumping and moving at the same time - you have to press the direction then the jump key one after the other in quick succession, and this can be a challenge at first. Also, when driving the Metal Slug in a later stage, it can be difficult to tell which way your gun is angled without watching the muzzle flash, and even then I found it difficult to tell if I was hitting the helicopter end boss or not.

Fortunately for you, you have an energy bar (common to all the handheld versions of Metal Slug, as far as I recall) as opposed to the one-hit-one-life-lost difficulty of the original MVS games - you can occasionally pick up food to replenish this energy or gas cans if you're driving the Metal Slug. Also, to hold your interest, there are a limited amount of continues, and if you've blown them all, you get one more chance to proceed with your score reset before having to start an entirely new game.

"Mobile Impact" has a few drawbacks, sure, but if you're a rabid Metal Slug fan and have a few bucks to waste, it's a worthy diversion. In the interest of indicating potentially biased reviewing, my ringtone is currently the Level Complete jingle from MVS Metal Slug 1, by the way!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This originally formed part of my August 2006 column for Collector Times

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