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Metal Slug: First Mission

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: SNK Playmore
Developer: SNK Neogeo
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

While not as fluid as in the arcade versions, Metal Slug: First Mission’s graphics and animations are somewhat impressive. The backgrounds are skillfully drawn and the characters show plenty of expressions and actions, yet something’s just lacking. The sound effects could use a great deal of work (where’d the enemies’ hilarious screams of pain go?!). And the music, while catchy at times, needs improvement as well. It seems to me like SNK could have spent a little more time developing a more detailed environment for this game.


In my opinion, gameplay is this sucker’s weakest point. For some reason, the transition from arcade to handheld just didn’t go very smoothly for Metal Slug, and that’s a damn shame. The MS arcade series had it all -- perfectly smooth and responsive control, decent replay value, incredibly innovative weapons and settings, and a wonderful sense of humor. Unfortunately, MS: FM seems to be carrying very little of the legacy laid down by its predecessors; the controls are sluggish, the weapons are boring and limited, there’s almost no humor to be found in the game whatsoever, and although I hate to say this, I’ve beaten the game twice now and I never want to play it again. Needless to say, replay value ain’t a biggie with this one.

The game does have its good points, though -- the two vehicles you get to control from time to time (the Metal Slug and Slug Flyer) are a nice break from the monotony, and the game’s automatic save feature is a definite plus. This baby’s got 23 missions, and if I had to start from the beginning every time I turned my NGPC on, I’d never beat it! The game also introduces neat little alternative methods of completing levels (for example, if your Metal Slug explodes, you have to escape from Prison Camp; if your Slug Flyer is going down, you eject and parachute down, completing the mission on foot) which is certainly a welcome change.


First Mission isn’t terribly difficult if you’re a seasoned Metal Slug veteran. If you’ve never played any version of the series, you might need to take a while getting adjusted, but it shouldn’t be long before you’re chucking grenades with the best of ‘em. The enemies aren’t extremely smart, but they’ll still slaughter you if you get careless with what you’re doing. However, unlike the arcade MS games, this one gives you an extendable life-bar, allowing you to take multiple hits before you die, rather than incurring instant death from a single bullet as usual.

Game Mechanics:

Sadly, Metal Slug: First Mission suffers from severe slowdown when a lot of things are on the screen at once, worse than any other NGPC game I’ve seen so far. It doesn’t necessarily make the game any less fun, but it sure can get annoying at times. Also, some of the ways SNK decided to handle some of the control functions in this game simply baffle me. The biggest mystery is the grenade system -- rather than assigning the Option button as the ‘throw grenade’ button, the player has to toggle between the normal gun and grenades, which can be a BIG pain when you’re up against a boss. Nevertheless, this game can be pretty entertaining on a boring afternoon -- pick it up if you simply must have a pocket-sized version of the arcade classic, flawed though it may be.

-Ben Monkey, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ben Lewis

GameBoy Color/Pocket Sonic Pocket Adventure GameBoy Color/Pocket Test Drive 6

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated