Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: Metal Slug: First Mission

The Neo Geo Pocket lacks a large list of premier titles, but Metal Slug: First Mission is certainly one of them. Everybody loves Metal Slug, but the series' primary blunder is that not everybody loves paying 1000$ for a Neo Geo AES Metal Slug cartridge. Metal Slug: First Mission isn't only a cheap alternative, it's a darn good one. The fast-paced wacky action the series is known for returns in this small-cartridge-big-game featuring high quality sprites, a variety of colors, and plenty of missions packed with a lot of variety. What SNK has managed to pull off with this game is amazing, especially considering the hardware limitations of the Neo Geo Pocket. While the game suffers from slowdown at times, it generally boasts silky smooth sprite animation, and a lot of it.

First Mission's biggest triumph is also its biggest flaw, however. This game sought to bring the Metal Slug console experience to the car ride, but without butchering the gameplay. This makes for an extremely enjoyable and impressive game on the Neo Geo Pocket, but it also makes for an inconsistent frame rate and some flat out annoying boss fights. The game strives to be more than it is, and as a result you will notice areas where the it lags in every level. Also, boss fights simply drag on for too long, despite handheld gaming being primarily used as a quick fix. Often times I faced off against a boss for ten minutes, following the same pattern over and over again as the its health depleted. Boss fights just do not fit in with the rest of the game, because the levels themselves are around five minutes in length. Again though, this game does pack a home console quality experience, and these flaws are hardly flaws at all.

In terms of gameplay variety, Metal Slug: First Mission has you covered. Along with the standard on-foot levels, this game also has a few enjoyable tank and airplane segments. While the tank controls are awkward, it is still fun to wreck everyone on screen with the tank turret. The airplane levels are really fun though, and they transform the game into a side-scrolling shooter. Controls in these levels are simple and work perfectly fine, and the difficulty is very low, allowing those new to the genre of side-scrolling shooters to enjoy these levels as well.

Metal Slug: First Mission is a must buy for the Neo Geo Pocket. It tries its best to be the Super Mario Land of the NGP, and it succeeds. The console quality gameplay and advanced graphics for its time make First Mission a mission you will definitely want to embark on.

Find Metal Slug: First Mission on ebay | Amazon

Released: 1999-05-15
Publisher: SNK
Developer: SNK


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