As we write this we still await the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console, but courtesy of HAMSTER we have the 'ACA' Neo Geo range on Nintendo's latest console. These are essentially faithful ports, designed to emulate the original Neo Geo experience on modern hardware while throwing in a broad range of features and customisation options. The treatment is rather similar to the 3DS iteration of Mega Man Legacy Collection - the games have the usual glitches and old-school slowdown, but there are a lot of fan-pleasing bonuses to enjoy.
Metal Slug 3 is fondly regarded in the series, delivering on the trademark madness while also providing some uniquely memorable moments. The basic formula is Contra blended with '90s arcade visuals and slapstick comedy. You run and gun, with various power-ups to find that give you ludicrous heavy guns, rockets and more besides. A limited number of bombs can be thrown in each life, you do melee attacks automatically when close to a foe, and one-hit deaths mean that you'll perish plenty of times.
In its arcade form this was a huge coin guzzler, but the unique aesthetic to these frantic games continues to set them apart. Not only is the art design reflective of some comic book styles, but it was beautifully programmed at the time. Every aspect of the game has a few more frames of animation than is strictly necessary, giving the sense of more fluid and detailed movements and visual effects. It's all old hat nowadays as developers utilise impressive engines and technology to do remarkable things with pixel-art and more, but at the time Neo Geo games like these - including their arcade forms - were remarkable to behold.
The core experience, with it being a score chasing run and gun experience, is relatively quick. You can quite easily rattle through in under an hour, seeing all of the bizarre and humorous twists and turns in the 'narrative'. Multiple playthroughs are encouraged, too, as set points in each stage offer obvious - and in some cases hidden - alternative routes. Some of these differ wildly from each other so it's possible to have fairly fresh runs as you experiment with different options. Some moments are hugely entertaining, and it's the sort of game so wacky in its execution that reviewing it was arguably the most silly fun this gamer had enjoyed for some time - if you want easy laughs, this is a good place to find them.
So, what makes this ACA range worth the investment? To be fair to HAMSTER it throws a lot of extras and customisation into these titles; in this case we kick off with display options that include a little extra width on the screen and various filters to add scanlines (we liked the cleaner default view, however). You can even adjust the display size in custom ways, stretching the image beyond its 4:3 default ratio if you're happy to have stretched pixels - don't do that, though.
Keeping the focus on the visuals, at launch the colours were washed out, an issue that was quickly acknowledged. Following an update there has been a visual improvement with deeper colours and a more varied palette. It looks fine on a modern TV and suits co-op well (we'll come to that), but we rather got used to playing solo on the console's screen - the Switch display is nice and sharp and, through blowing up the low resolution source image less, arguably shows the visuals at their best. As a selling point for ACA games on Nintendo's system that portable option is definitely right up there.
In other options you can reassign buttons (which are baffling initially but are fine with practice) and also set auto-fire, so you can press and hold rather than trash your controller buttons. You can also ensure you get from start to finish by giving yourself up to 99 lives and as many credits, while you can choose from eight difficulty settings and even unclutter the HUD a little. Online leaderboards also feature and, even beyond that, you can choose from the Japanese or English version of the game. You can also try a High Score Mode in which you have no continues, or a 'Caravan' mode in which you have a time limit. All told, there are plenty of options for more casual players that want easy but chaotic fun, in addition to hardcore players keen to showcase their skills.
Beyond that local co-op is supported, which is arguably the most enjoyable way to enjoy the game. We had a blast playing this with a buddy with similarly rose-tinted memories of the good old days. It also makes the game far easier, with enemies going down quicker and with good teamwork being genuinely effective as enemies swarm in from both sides of the screen. The game is still a hoot when played solo, but going through it with another player - either on the TV or in 'Tabletop' mode - adds a little extra spice. For the record you can use various controller combos such as a Pro Controller / Joy-Con Grip, or just use one Joy-Con each; for the latter option you need to reorder the controllers in the system's main menu before booting the game, so that it'll recognise each Joy-Con separately.
It's an undoubtedly enjoyable experience, but we do have some complaints that flirt with the line between 'authenticity' and outright performance issues. For one thing, deliberate slowdown is present in these emulations, regardless of whether you're playing them on PC, PS4, Xbox One or Switch. HAMSTER pitches this as authenticity, and as per the aforementioned Mega Man Legacy Collection that is fair enough - just know what you're signing up for. This is a faithful port, so you won't be basking in silky smooth framerates, and this game will chug just like it did back in the day.
Frankly, we think the line between authentic arcade slowdown - which actually helps on some occasions - is crossed at times in this release. Sometimes input lag factors in big time, and even when the game is clipping along reasonably our character will be annoyingly picky on whether they respond to our demands that they throw a bomb, for example. In co-op, too, a few late sections grind so much that it becomes a real slog for short bursts, with inputs and the on-screen action being so nonsensical that you hold fire and hope for the best.
Now, before you sharpen the pitchforks and slam our insensitivity towards authenticity, we know the difference between deliberate slowdown in a faithful emulation and actual performance problems. Yet while boss encounters work well (and the occasional slowdown adds to the drama) at some points in the game it's just dips in performance. Do we forgive all just because the arcade and Neo Geo entries struggled at times? In some cases yes, but in some moments where it drops to 10 frames-per-second and is temporarily unplayable, no we don't.
While these drops, control quirks and occasional problem spots didn't spoil the experience, they nevertheless exist; we're not fully convinced, either, that all of the dips are 'authentic recreations', and even if they are some of the chokepoints are a tad too extreme.
Metal Slug 3 is a blast, all told, and for those that want to experience a retro run and gun classic - that was once expensive and out of reach for many - this is a nice option. It's a hoot, with the anarchic action and quirky animations contributing to a fundamentally bonkers experience. HAMSTER, to its credit, has also loaded in some nifty customisation options so that you can dabble and experiment. It's a short experience unless you seek out various alternate routes, of course, and as outlined above we think it flirts on the line of 'authentic slowdown' and 'annoying performance issues'. In many cases we suspect the former and had a lot of fun regardless, but the latter crept into play occasionally.
At the end of the day, though, for fans of the genre this is tough to ignore. Whether playing on your own or with a buddy, it's sure to raise a smile and even a few laughs as you obliterate everything on screen.
I've the Metal Slug Anthology for Wii. Much better prospect than buying the games individually.
~ Metal Slug
~ Metal Slug 2
~ Metal Slug X
~ Metal Slug 3
~ Metal Slug 4
~ Metal Slug 5
~ Metal Slug 6
And thanks to the Wii U being backwards compatible I can still play them easily.
"arcade anarchy" ??
more like anomie
Poor reviewers, this title been re-released at so many platforms but you have to write about it again, and again, and again... It's corpse have to be bury a decade ago. Or at least fixed to not slowdown on a modern hardware.
Metal slug 3 easy 10/10
I have this game in 5 different platforms. I won't get it for 6 but whoever hasn't played this play this
"[you can] also set auto-fire, so you can press and hold rather than trash your controller buttons"
I'm sold! I quickly tire of repeatedly hammering buttons these days and the tiny Switch buttons would make it even harder so hearing there's an auto-fire option is fantastic. I'll definitely be giving this a download this evening!
I've had performance issues as well but I only have that when I'm undocked and far away from a good wifi reception. I blame the performance issue in that it keeps searching for wifi and interrupts game play.
Agreed ! The review mentions the Megaman Legacy Collection... this kind of bundle would have presented more interest.
That's the best MS entry to date, extremely fun in co-op multiplayer. A 7/10 is a bit underwhelming.
Also agree 7/10 seems pretty low.
I think 7 seems fair, I have bought it and loved it so maybe I'd add 1 more but while I agree it may not seem that good value for me personally having never played one it seems fine with all the options and I will be playing it again and again for the alternative routes!
Great game,I have it on vita.. Perfect fit for a handheld
I had the collection on Wii and couldn't get into them because of the forced sideways Wiimote controls.Really annoyed me that as i had a Classic Controller that was perfect for them.I don't think it was ever patched in either?I've since played them all on emulators and loved them.I'll definitely be picking up a few of them on Switch.
These games were always too dang hard for me so i never enjoyed them
It's always Metal Slug 3 that gets released. Release the other titles!
Gotta love the classic Shinkiro artwork from the header!
I've played Metal Slug 2 on the PS3, and that version had an 'overclock' option which drastically reduced the slowdown. Shame that's not an option here.
@SLIGEACH_EIRE True. My only gripe being that the game doesn't recognize my Classic Controller Pro & with no Game Cube port in the Wii U, I'm kinda stuck with the Wii remote.
@Niinbendo you got to play it with default options or they won't upload online
@Pahvi not really I also careless about the pro controller
@Pahvi do u own a switch?. Just asking because on the switch eshop and metal slug 3 and it says supported controllers Nintendo switch pro controller
I played it with my bro the other day and it was fun, if maybe too hard to effectively avoid hits most of the time. With proper directional aiming and a bit of a drop in difficulty—or at least far less of the basically cheap deaths—I think it would have been awesome. It definitely looks gorgeous for the most part. But in terms of pure gameplay and fun, it's no Contra III: The Alien Wars.
Wait... 7/10?? But if Nintendo fans have taught me anything is that 7/10 is the lowest score a game can get!! Lets start a campaign to DDo.... lol, sorry, probably a bad idea to even joke about that!
Think I owned MS3 for the Playstation 2? Great game & I look forward to playing this on the Switch. Not sure what it is, but there is a really great feeling you can only get by playing Neo Geo games on a portable. Maybe Neo Geo Pocket Color nostalgia?
yeah, having to shake the Wii mote to throw grenades... I've never shook so hard since... emm... nevermind.
ohh! the zombie music!!! >.<
The ****!? I've a Switch, I almost always enjoy Nintendo's 1st party efforts, it's innovation and thinking outside the box, all wrapped up in some of the best, talented and hard working staff in the industry, BUT...
A rom download - in this instance - should have been packaged as part of a collection of games AND the framerate ran sans drops, minimum.
@SLIGEACH_EIRE Same here. Got it for $15 in 2008. Makes it real hard for me to justify buying Metal Slug ports on any other console now...
@impurekind If you like Metal Slug but want an easier one, parts 1, 2, X, and 5 are are quite a bit easier. They cranked the difficulty up on 3 when they made it. Part 2 is probably the easiest one, but it had slowdown issues which is why they made X, which is basically a remix. But the ones I mentioned can be beaten in a reasonable number of credits without having to memorize too much of the game.
The people complaining about the score don't seem to be reading that this version has some performance issues.
@samuelvictor I prefer X over 3. I found 3 to be excessively brutal in spots, and the final stage drags on and on. Metal Slug 1, X and 5 are my favorites.
Sadly, the Wii Metal Slug Anthology has a fatal flaw which was pointed out. It has multiple control options and all of them flawed. As I understand it, that's because Nintendo didn't allow the classic controllers to be used in new games at the time. That's why I got it for PS2. It wasn't perfect there either, but it had good controls.
I'd say 7/10 is about right. My favourite 'run and gun' game is Super probotector.
You can't just release the anthology collection from the previous generation, and now expect us to go back in buying each game individually. I will wait until they release a Metal Slug anthology collection again for the Nintendo switch.
Metal Slug 3 is considered the best in the series, but I actually prefer 2/X. Metal Slug 3 is definitely a game I recommend to play and I would have at least gave it an 8 out of 10. I have this on Xbox 360/One and I'm thinking about getting it on PS4 for the online play. If I had a Switch, I might get just for the fact that you can take this game anywhere.
Got the game but didnt really like it except for its artdesign. Even today those pixels are lively and magical. Problem for me i couldnt stand to repeatedly press the shoot button.
Shock Troopers feels so much more satisfying. Metal Slug kinda drags on. But i feel that its definitely a good game.
Love Metal Slug, definitely tempted to pick this up at some point!
7? Pshhh... this game's a 10.
@Jhena you can turn it to auto-shoot when you hold the button!
@Zach I swear i just pressed the y button for 10 seconds and Marco started snoring after his first shot^^
Cant find anything in the optionsmenu either.
'hold fire and hope for the best'
Sums up my past 40 years of gaming perfectly. 😁
I'm really wanting some games to download on my Switch at the moment, and I've been considering these old Neo Geo games. I just can't justify the £6.30 (or whatever it is). If it was like £15-20 for all of them, then I'd be up for it. As it stands, I'll just have to play Zelda extra slow and cross my fingers for a good game on Thursday...
GOOD GRIEF CHARLIE BROWN!
"You can quite easily rattle through in under an hour..."
Tommy boy, did you play the final stage? That one alone is longer than entire other games in this series. I mean, I guess if you're chugging through it on Level-1 difficulty, it's possible, but we're talking some major speedrun strategies here.
It's not a bad way to get into this series. But as others have stated, with Wii U not having Gamecube controller support, and the game coming out too early in the Wii's lifespan to support the Classic Controller (the dev kit they got didn't have it yet), it's very annoying to play this with a Wii remote, especially when you have to waggle it just to throw grenades.
Not to mention, allegedly due to a Nintendo directive, they had to take out that essential blink the bosses make when you damage them. This can make it very difficult to know if you're actually damaging the boss or not.
Bought this from the Japanese eShop day 1 for 823 yen tax included (not sure why this page says 900 yen), and I don't remember any slowdown issues, but I also never played the original, so there may have been slowdowns that I assumed were normal and just didn't really pay attention to.
Excellent game. If you're looking for a good quick challenge for your newly purchased Switch, you really need to grab this and Shock Troopers. The alternate paths alone guarantee every time you play will be a different experience.
This is the best Metal Slug game. It's better than a 7/10
Surprising with the extra modes offered they can't create one called 'authenticity', which could be disabled to speed up the slowdown.
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