For those seeking enjoyable run and gun action the first and third Metal Slug games are already available on the Switch’s eShop and now Metal Slug 2 gets the ACA treatment, faithfully recreating the sights, sounds and feel of the original game. Unfortunately, this also includes the extreme slowdown.
It doesn’t take much for the game to slow. Should a group of would-be assassins rush on to screen, there’s a small but noticeable loss of fluidity. Further on-screen activity (more characters or vehicles) causes a bigger, quite off-putting dip, whilst at its worst the game slows to a crawl with movement seeming to take place underwater. There are sections than run smoothly and the slighter dips are easy to get used to, but the slowdown is a constant throughout the game. The poor performance (which, it should be stressed, is no fault of the Switch itself but is present in the Neo Geo original as well) would be fixed in the updated Metal Slug X that also featured some additional/changed enemies and some colour palette differences. Presumably this too will get an ACA release at some point.
For now though, this original version of game offers the same story and aim: pick one of four characters, then travel the globe blasting enemy soldiers, other attackers and just generally blowing a lot of stuff up. As always, you can tackle this solo or have a friend join you.
With a range of different weapons available to pick up (heavy machine gun, flameshot, shotgun, etc) and a handful of grenades it’s simple gameplay, but a lot of fun; fun that is enhanced by great character designs, emotive animation, detailed background art, terrific music and a range of different things to shoot or be shot by. The controls work well although the slowdown can be annoying, causing you to lose a life when a sudden speed change distracts. On the other hand, the slowdown can make things easier for you, giving you time to plot your course through the oncoming bullets.
That these elements blend together so well shouldn't be a surprise to fans of the series, as each instalment feels like a proper action romp; this one sees you taking in the sights of the Middle East, China, the USA and the Arctic. Fun moments include jumping up a tower shooting at (and trying to escape from) gigantic mental jaws, battling a large armoured boat, driving across wooden rooftops in a tank and trying to destroy runaway train carriages before they crush you. Along the way you’ll be fighting soliders, mummies, strange creatures in an underground sewer base and a surprising group of foes in the final mission.
As is standard with these ACA releases HAMSTER has included options for adjusting the difficulty, toggling blood on/off, button remapping and display options to add scanlines should you so wish.
As a game designed to guzzle up coins in the arcade, things can get quite frantic with lots of bullets to avoid and enemies to shoot at on screen. Of course the option to add more lives - and a credit being just a button press away - mean that the game will not be difficult for you to complete on Switch. Luckily, the usual one-credit High Score and 5-minute Caravan modes are available, providing a stern challenge that will keep you coming back as you attempt to do a little better and move up that online high score table.
Offering the usual "fun and gun" action as the rest of the series, Metal Slug 2 will provide a lot of entertainment and the High Score and Caravan modes add to the replayability of it. The downside is that this is an authentic recreation of the original game, warts and all. The well designed stages, amusing character designs, detailed scenery and brilliant soundtrack are great, but the slowdown is painful at times. Smaller dips in performance are easy to put up with, but the larger ones harm the game, and your enjoyment. There's still fun to be had here, but Metal Slug 2 is far from an essential download, and it might be a better idea to wait for Metal Slug X, which fixes the slowdown and adds more content.