Review by Yart

Reviewed: 12/18/06 | Updated: 12/26/08

I like the idea SNK Playmore had... just I don't like where they went with it.

Please note that this is not a review on each individual game found in this anthology, but rather the presentation of the whole package of seven games and just on how "Arcade Perfect" they are of ports. I will not go into detail on how fun these games are. If you really want to know, there are plenty of reviews for each individual game in the anthology around the internet as each game deserves a different score. So don't get me wrong. Even with the low score of this collection, Metal Slug still remains my absolute favourite video game series of all time. Sadly, after waiting for a chance to own all the games on one disc for over a year, I didn't get exactly what I expected in the end.

Alright, first we'll start off with the major beef of this collection just to get it out of the way to make way for the good in the end. The bad is unfortunately, and ultimately, the game's control.

So I understand that with the new controller style that Nintendo has brought forth to our homes, we could have expected a bit of a change. That is okay. But how SNK Playmore used it to their advantage, disastrous. It could have worked out just fine if they would have let you change the layout of the controller's buttons, but instead you get very awkward positions of the Jump and Fire buttons on nearly every setting, except for the "Gamecube Controller" configuration where you can hook up a Gamecube controller to your Wii and use that as the play controller instead. The only setting where you can set your buttons, which is the one setting that needs it the least. And to top it off, you can't even use the D-Pad to move around when using the Gamecube controller. You have to use the Joystick instead which gets very annoying at some points where you need to turn quickly and you just don't push the joystick enough to the other direction, or it takes too long and you're hit. Or even the fact that it just magically likes to make you aim up towards the sky on it's own half the time as it's really touchy as far as aiming up or down.

Aside from the Gamecube controller, we have the Wii-Remote. There are many settings for this, but we'll start off with the default.

The "Wii Remote" Configuration.
Very basic control scheme where you hold the controller sideways and use the D-Pad to move, 1 to Fire, 2 to Jump and throw your controller across the room to Throw a Grenade. Yes I've had problems using the sensors when it came to this game. I found them quite unresponsive and didn't work when I wanted them to. Also I found moving around with the D-Pad kind of delayed... but that could also be my reflexes as I was adjusting to a new form of control.

The "Arcade" Configuration.
I held the Wii-Remote straight upwards and held the attached Nunchuck to the side with my other hand. As I tried turning the simulated Arcade style Joystick (the Wii-Remote), it just jibbed out and went in random directions and didn't work at all. This even happened when the controller was at rest! (Not laying down on a table, but where it was supposed to be as if the joystick wasn't turned) I tried this with more than one Wii-Remote and found that the results were the same and was not due to potentially broken hardware. So, I could not properly review this method of control. A shame as it seemed like a neat idea too.

The "Nunchuck Control Stick" Configuration.
It seemed very awkward for me to hold the joystick to move the character in one hand and the controller to shoot, jump, and throw grenade in the other, non-attached to each other. Takes time getting used to. However, poor button placement makes even this promising configuration a disappointment. Again, throw the controller to Throw a Grenade. But that's not the major beef. The Wii-Remote is so thin that tapping buttons while holding it upwards could be a problem if that's the B button (trigger underneath the controller) you're tapping as your hand is half off the controller tapping at maybe half the speed that you could if you used your thumb instead, or mashed down on an arcade cabinet with your full hand. And guess what? That B button happens to be your Fire button! Oh yay! But that's okay, you could always turn on Automatic Fire in the options and hold the trigger as you use the A Button with your thumb to jump instead, right? Wrong. You shoot at the same speed with Automatic Fire, which is actually incredibly slow and definitely not fast enough to fight a boss with. Personally I think they should have reversed the Jump and Fire buttons on this setting, or atleast let you change them yourself, but like stated before you can only change the button layouts on the Gamecube controller setting. Also the Joystick on the Nunchuck has that touchiness too, much like the Gamecube setting, only not as bad. You'll be aiming upwards quite a bit until you get used to it.

The "Nunchuck Only" Configuration.
Possibly the only configuration I could play with as both your hands are on one device and close together, giving you an easier time flicking the Nunchuck to throw a grenade. I only had minimal problems with grenades, and by minimal, I mean rarely. So that's good. Basically this setting enables you to forget about the Wii-Remote and use JUST the Nunchuck. Sounds crazy, but it works! Joystick to move around (and with the stableness of both your hands, you won't be aiming upwards half as much... but you still will), C to Jump (Index Finger) and Z to Fire (Middle Finger). Still, even though I find it the best control method out of all of the configurations, it still isn't my favourite method period.

The "Tilt Wii-Remote" Configuration.
Confusing as heck. Push 1 (the original Fire button) to Throw Grenade, and 2 (the original Jump button) to Fire. This is bad as the Fire button is so much towards the edge of the controller that you won't have much of a full grasp on the controller which results in hurting your hand. Jump is also Up on the D-Pad, which is also a very awkward placement. You hold the controller sideways like the "Wii Remote" configuration, only you tilt the controller to move around. Not very good. Since when has Metal Slug turn into a racing game?

Now that we got the worst part of the anthology out of the way (which by the way, if fixed, could DRAMATICALLY increase the score of this anthology by a LOT!) lets move on to our little comparison to the arcade versions.

Everything is pretty much here from the graphics to the sound. Gameplay feels the same except for a few very small things. First off, big boss characters don't seem to flash nearly 90% of the time when they are shot. Also, some music seems to be out of place. Some points of the game the music is supposed to change at certain parts, but they don't. Or the music just doesn't fade out when they're supposed to, or some boss fights don't even play the boss music at all but instead it continues the level's music. Besides these very upsetting factors (c'mon! What action arcade game doesn't have flashing sprites? It didn't feel like I was hurting the enemy until it was dead) it is very, VERY close to the real thing.

Other beefs? Loading time is horrible. The loading screens are everywhere, even in mid gameplay! You'll be on a level and run from one screen to the next, and before it goes black you'll get a "Now Loading" screen, each and every time! Incredibly annoying.

Now this is the point where things start to look up. First off, you get every arcade Metal Slug game. Even the two version of Metal Slug 2. (Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X) The ability to pause in game and change configurations from sound and controls right from there is also another very welcoming addition as I felt I needed to change my control scheme many times in game just to find a certain feel I could accept and enjoy the most. It would have been very annoying if I had to exit the game, change the controls and restart every time I was unhappy with something.

Content? No "Fat Island" from the Xbox version of Metal Slug 3 in this one or anything like that, but the gallery of conceptual artwork and unlockable in game music is pretty nice, and the text interview with some of the SNK workers was pretty interesting to read too. The general look of the main menu is pretty nice and easy to navigate, and contains new graphics with of course Morden's troops running around in the background. A very welcoming screen upon booting up the disc for the first time. Also each time you beat a Metal Slug game, you gain tokens which enable you to unlock more secret content. If the Metal Slug games weren't replayable enough with the many in game routes you can take, this only adds a whole lot more to it.

That's pretty much everything to be noted in this anthology besides the fact that there is no Online Play. But that doesn't matter since it's more fun to scream and yell while playing with a friend who's right beside you. Now lets look at the general overview.

-Contains Seven (7) Metal Slug games, taken straight from the Arcade.
-Extra Unlockable Content, and lots of it.

-HORRIBLE Controls.
-Not quite as promised Arcade Perfectness.
-HORRIBLE places for Loading Screens.

I just wish SNK Playmore would have focused more on perfection than gimmicks. I say that was their main problem right there. If they would have just changed the controls alone, I would have definitely loved this collection even with the music faults and the Loading Screens. Unfortunately, this is nearly unplayable for me which leaves me to let it collect dust in the corner as I pop back out the Xbox and play Metal Slug 3 to 5 on that instead. I only hope that someday SNK Playmore releases a patch online to download that'll add D-Pad support to the Gamecube controllers.

Would I recommend this? To somebody new to the Metal Slug series, no. This does not give you the same experience and first impression that you would get from playing it for another console or even at the arcades. Maybe if they start to REALLY like it, and they're desperate for all the Metal Slug games that they would have a hard time getting their hands on, then alright. Go for it. Also if you're just in the mood for a classic fast paced shooting game, rent first or get the games for another system. To somebody who loves Metal Slug with all their heart and who's absolutely hardcore over it and actually calls themselves a fan boy... you'll only end up as hurt as I am.

Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Product Release: Metal Slug Anthology (US, 12/14/06)

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