From the outset let's get one thing straight: my Metal Slug experience is very limited. I have played Metal Slug 4 in the local theatre a bunch of times while waiting for movies to start and during some romantic comedies my fiancee brought me to (I told her I was going to the washroom; that's a good trick; you should try it sometime). I've done my research on the series and it seems that 4 is not the one to judge the series on. Also, I've played games that are compared to Metal Slug, like Alien Hominid and Gunstar Heroes. That's it. Thus, this isn't the review of a Metal Slug guru, so any Metal Slug enthusiests should understand, this is the review of a newbie to the series and I'm seeing a lot of the formula elements for the first time.
Okay, so apparently, this is the first Metal Slug to be released for any arcade board other than the Neo-Geo. It's running on Sammy's Atomiswave board. It's the fifth SNK game made for that board, and, if my forum research is correct, the last SNK game slated for release on that particular board. I have no idea why, as the board handles this game really well and I can't see why it wouldn't be more than capable of handling Metal Slug 7. Of course this isn't the review of an arcade board, so let's talk about the game.
The first thing you'll notice playing the game is that it is very, very good looking. As I said, my only experience with Metal Slug before this was 4. I can't compare it to other Slugs, but this one is better looking than 4. I don't know what it is exactly, but things are brighter and more lively looking in this one. Also, the backgrounds are much more detailed in this one than in 4. The beautiful backdrops remind me why it is I prefer 2D to 3D. Like in a 2D Sonic game, the backgrounds look so nice that they make you think there is definitely more to the gameworld than just the area you're playing on. The enemies and characters look pretty much like they did in Metal Slug 4, and, if screenshots are any indication, like they did in Metal Slug 1. They are very stylized and have great animations.
The enemies are not just 1,000,000 soldiers this time however. This time there are knife weilding guys (who for some reason I think of as cajuns), some teleporting mushroom monsters, and, in a move that apparently surprises even the bad guys Alien look a likes who spit larvae (I don't know the Metal Slug story, bust one of the badguys is surprised enough that he loses his pants) . The switch to Aliens occurs as something of a plot turn at the end of level 2. The whole world appears to be overrun by these new monsters. This leads to some really interesting situations. For example, flying aliens take over civilians and cause them to go crazy attacking you. Also, you start passing a lot of civilians who are running away from aliens or who are running back and forth frantically trying to figure out what to do. This is funny stuff and adds a lot of charm to the game.
I can't comment on the game's sound really. The music and sound effects seemed to be okay, but the game was next to one of those punching bag machines that should be made illegal in arcades. I mean, who likes to pay 50 cents to have a machine tell them they're a wuss? If I could get a high score on a punching bag, chances are I'd be in a gym and not an arcade. Still, the thing somehow ends up in constant use, so I can't comment on what the sound of the game would be like without fists constantly flying next to my head.
Apparently it is important in a review for a Metal Slug game to talk of the slugs. There are some nice ones. I rode a donkey with a cart attached that fired bombs. I also rode the original Slug. Apparently there is also a drill.
There is also a new weapon that lets your melee knife slash with more power. I hate that weapon, as the range is so poor that I end up getting shot by things that the normal handgun would have easily dispatched. Thanks for nothing new weapon. However, there is a weapon switch button this time, so you can switch between your weapons, and then don't have to use the terrible knife thing. Also there are two new characters: Ralf and Clark from Ikari Warriors. I don't like either of them and generally just play as Marco. Finally, there is a new difficulty setting feature. You can play 4 levels on easy or 5 on hard. Easy gives you the heavy machine gun as the default gun. This makes the game A LOT easier. Thus, I only play on the hard setting, which I'm still pretty good at. However, if maybe your grandmother is playing it with you, you could probably choose easy. Also, for the semi-broke gamer, easy will let you get much longer out of a quarter. Difficult offers the kind of fast paced, crazy runing and gunning action us 2D fiends crave. Nothing in the game I've seen yet is impossible and it's possible to get a good ways on 50 cents once you get used to it.
All in all, this game rocks. If you like 2D and run 'n' gun, this game is right for you. If you're a member of the SNK faithful though, I can't tell you if Metal Slug 6 is different enough to warrent existence. I'm glad it's here anyway.
The animation isn't bad by any means but it's pretty obvious SNK didn't really take advantage of the new board. Their constant refusal or inability to re-draw things is their biggest problem now a days. They aren't working with the neo-geo anymore and thusly their games should show it. I haven't gotten to play this yet, not really willing to spend the 55$ to do so either. So it looks like I'll have to wait.