Metal Slug Anthology
Nintendo Wii(Although, I suspect some of these also work on the PS2/PSP)
Metal Slug Anthologies is a series of Metal Slug games released in a collection on the Nintendo Wii. The collection contains arcade ports of Metal Slugs 1 through 5, X, and a previously-unreleased-in-the-US Metal Slug 6. As well as those, it also opts to have a few art galleries, some music collections, and an interview with part of the development team behind the Metal Slug series. Structurally speaking, there's not much to the game aside from that, so adding a summary of the Metal Slug series as a whole would logically be the next train of thought.
Metal Slug is a series of arcade games designed around the NeoGeo arcade cabinet, designed with the overlaying idea of "Only three buttons, and easy to pick-up-and-play." To those means, Metal Slug goes the distance in creating an easy to get into, hard to master side-scrolling shooter. The gameplay feels a little like any shooting platformer, like Megaman or Duke Nukem (back before he was 3D), but maintains a high "panic" and difficulty factor thrown in. You take control of one of (as of Metal Slug 6) six characters, in a short, mission-based storyline, different for each game.
On the whole, although boasting a miserably low resolution (320x280), the game is beautifully animated and very well-designed. The sprites are vibrant and expressive, without cutting too far out of realism or too into grit. The music, although nothing to write home about, does a good job of providing music and mood to the comings and goings of the games. But, enough of the game's designs, let's talk about the Wii's issues.
For starters, I love the Wii and all it's tried, and I honestly wish Nintendo hadn't left the hardcore gamers to their own devices, so it's probably saying something that I have so many issues with this as a Nintendo game. The game boasts several control styles, from Wiimote, to Wiimote-Nunchuck, to the Gamecube Controller. Despite the three different options for control styles (and notably lacking support for the Classic Controller), the differences between the control styles aren't really separate enough to merit picking one over the other. The ontrol sticks on the Gamecube and Nunchuck aren't suited for Metal Slug, and the D-Pad on the WiiMote has difficulty pressing several directions at once (crouching and walking forward or backward, specifically). This, on top of the requirement of tapping the shoot button several times in rapid succession rewarding you with several dead enemies, and lots of finger pain.
But the worst is yet to come, the deathblow that renders the Wiimote/Nunchuck style control scheme is the addition of the throw grenade option, which is performed by flicking the Wiimote in the style of a pineapple grenade (the model of grenade that the characters use). This considerably slows down grenade-throwing process, which is absolutely pivotal to survivability in this "die-anywhere, anytime" gameplay.
Those nitpicks aside, the game does a fantastic job of porting these arcade classics to your home console in an easy to swallow and fun to play format. The game offers you options of how many credits and lives you want to give yourself, or if you want to set the game to Free Play for endless continues. The game inspires you to work hard, and the challenging gameplay spurrs even more effort into the game.
Overall, as far as arcade ports go, Metal Slug Anthologies reads like a laundry list of "What you should do" (plus or minus a few control issues that, admittedly, spawn from the Wii). It offers a simple menu to navigate, several games, and hours of fun, with a few extra unlockables. The problem with that is it doesn't push the envelope, and only really plays where it won't wander around and possibly hurt itself. Making it a very tame title without breaking any ground.
Lastly, I'll touch up on the game-exclusive Metal Slug 6. The sixth numbered title of the Metal Slug series, Metal Slug 6 is the first game to offer two things. One: Statistics for the characters, giving them special abilities. Two: New characters. The statistics are an interesting idea, but really hurt the balance of the game, which rewards or punishes you for picking certain characters. The idea that characters that were previously aesthetic taste have become statistic driven makes me feel like the game creators intended for me to stay away from certain characters and reward me for picking others.
Those nitpicks aside, my favorite feature from Metal Slug 5 was removed, that being the slide ability. That little change that upgraded 5 from 4 really hurt my opinion of 5 to 6. The lack of slide, although missing in the titles preceding 5, felt like a downgrade even though I was playing a sequel instead of a prequel. It felt like I was given a gift, only to have it re-taken in short order.
On the whole, Metal Slug 6 delivered what the Metal Slug series has always delivered, simple but intense gameplay that borders frustratingly difficult and fantastically fun. Although short, it's not a bad game by any stretch, and maintains the style, gameplay, and fun of the Metal Slug series to date.
On the whole, Metal Slug Anthologies is a fun game overall that opens the newer generation to the older arcade experiences in a fun and creative way. I just feel like some of the little things were overlooked, but still maintained the others with feverish detail and precision. A consistently fun romp, especially during Metal Slug nostalgia trips.
If you're a fan of the series, or just like side-scrollers, you can't go wrong with this title. If you're not sure if you enjoy games like these, a rent would do you better than an outright purchase.
So, pick it up, either by purchase or rental.