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December 16 2018

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  Metal Slug - ©Nazca 1996

Click here to view the image gallery for this game -->

Game Stats
1 or 2 player

Platform Shoot 'em up

193 Megs
Japanese Name:

Metal Slug

Released On:


Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
- The King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact (PS2)
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Other Opinions - More Reviews On NG4L:
Review 2 - by Icebro


This is an in depth review, and as such reveals a lot of information about each stage and all the end of level bosses, as well as a few tactics to use in beating them. Although there is no real storyline in the game, if you have not played it before and would rather not know everything about it, I suggest you don't read the "stages" section of the review. I would not want to spoil the experience for you, so I thought it better to mention this before you start reading!


1996 was quite a strange year for me when it comes to Neo Geo games. Although it was the year when some of the finest Neo Geo games ever were released (like The King of Fighters '96), I had lost touch with the whole scene for a while. This was due in part to the fact that like many people, I had purchased a Playstation in late 1995 and a lot of my gaming time had gone into that, so regrettably I was not visiting arcades as often as I used to. Because of this, I originally missed a lot of the quality titles that the Neo Geo had to offer in that time period.

Fast forward to some time in 1997 however, I had decided to pay a visit to one of the arcades I used to frequent. I immediately noticed a game in the corner that nobody seemed to be paying much attention to. Being the curious type I am, I went to take a look at it, and was pleasantly surprised to find a really fun looking game called Metal Slug, which at the time I described as "Contra with attitude". I was then even more surprised to see the familiar Neo Geo logo come scrolling on to the screen! I must have spent a good hour pumping credit after credit into the machine, and came back to do the same on many subsequent occasions.

That's quite enough of my rambling though. Suffice to say, the game went on to become one of my favourite Neo Geo games, and what I still consider to be one of the finest our favourite 16-bit machine has ever seen. All of this from a company whose only other Neo Geo game of note was the golf game Neo Turf Masters! (which was great also)

I am going to write this review on the assumption that you have not played or even seen a Metal Slug before, even if that is doubtful!


As with most games of this type, the idea behind Metal Slug is about as basic as you can get, and on the surface, nothing we haven't seen before. The game seems to be within a World War II style setting, and the bad guys are best described as "Nazi-esque". There isn't any real storyline; you simply play as a military guy who must destroy everything and everyone in his path, including enemy soldiers, vehicles, and practically anything else that gets in your way. During the course of the game you will have to rescue POW's every now and then, but the upside to this is that they will drop an item for you; sometimes this might be just a point's bonus, but more often than not it will be an extra weapon.

A 3 button setup is utilised here; A is fire, B is jump, and C throws grenades. The majority of the stages (all but 1) have you simply running from left to right, and once you make any progress into a stage, you cannot go backwards. At the end of every stage you will face off against a boss, and some of the stages have sub-bosses too. Although they are all fairly well designed you will find they are a little unbalanced and easy to beat with the correct tactics - see below.

That is pretty much all there is to it, but sometimes the "simple" games are the best ones!


Although there isn't a proper character select in this game, you can choose between two different characters depending on whether you start as player 1 or 2. Both of these two characters play the same though, so it is only a cosmetic difference.

The two characters are:

Marco - The blonde haired hero of Metal Slug, this is the main guy you will be playing as in this game.

Tarma - If you are player 2, or if you start a game on player 2's side, you will play as Tarma, the shades-wearing second character. I actually prefer playing as Tarma personally!

Bear in mind that you will only be able to start a one player game as Tarma if you are playing on the home console (or a setup that it set to console mode), as in the arcade the machine will not let you start a one player game as player 2.


There are a number of different weapons that you can collect on each stage, all of them (apart from your standard issue gun) have finite ammo, so you will need to use them wisely if you want to stand any chance of finishing the game on one credit. You will lose any weapon you are carrying if you die however, except if you run out of lives and continue, in which case you will receive a heavy machine gun when you re-spawn.


Standard issue! This weapon comes with infinite ammo and is the weapon you will always start with. This gun can only shoot left and right or directly up when you are standing, and it can fire down while you are jumping. However you will not be able to fire diagonally at all. Not the most powerful gun in the world, but you will need to get used to using as you will probably be using this weapon a lot throughout the course of the game.


Standard issue again, and this weapon only comes into play during close combat. If an enemy is standing right next to you, pressing fire will make Marco/Tarma pull out a knife and stab them! Bloodthirsty yes... but a lot of fun!


This weapon is also standard issue, but unlike the pistol you do not have infinite ammo. You start each life with 10 of these, but you can pick up more during each stage. In this game, grenades really are your friend, and if you learn how to use them in conjunction with the Metal Slug tank, you get through the game much more easily.

Heavy Machine Gun:

This is one of the first weapons you will pick up. This weapon is more powerful than the pistol and fires at a much faster rate, as well as being able to fire diagonally. As with most weapons in Metal Slug however, you cannot fire diagonally constantly; basically if you are firing to either the left or right and then press up (or up and then left/right), you will fire a few shots in a diagonal direction in between. This sounds like it could be very annoying, but it soon feels like second nature and the game is actually tailored towards this control style anyway so it never feels unfair.

Flame Shot:

This gun unleashes a blast of fire that is very powerful, but unfortunately the range is not fantastic. It sets enemy soldiers on fire, which sounds nasty but is actually very funny to watch (especially with their comical death screams). Best used for getting rid of large groups of those soldiers, and quite a lot of fun too! It's not a very good idea to try using Flame Shot against machinery though, as it will not do much damage at all.

Rocket Launcher:

The missiles that the rocket launcher fires have a lot of power, and also a slight homing ability which is very handy. They are dropped in fairly strategic locations and are great for taking out tanks and other enemy machinery… but are still cool to annihilate foot soldiers with too ;-)


This is by far my favourite weapon in the game, and as well as being one of the most powerful, it is also the most fun to use. It has a very short range, but believe me when I say it simply disintegrates any soldier foolish enough to be in your way. By disintegrate, I mean that the soldiers you shoot with it simply disappear without trace in a quick shower of blood. Don't think for a second that this weapon is only for taking out soldiers though, as it is very effective against machinery too. Not a weapon that you will see very often, but one that you should relish using every time you find one, as it is incredibly satisfying to use! :-)

Tank Slug:

During the course of each stage, you will often find a small tank that you can hop into (and begin kicking ass with). While you will die if you get hit only once when on foot, the tank has a small energy bar that will take about 3 hits to deplete. Once it has depleted, you will have to jump out of the tank before you get blown up, but thankfully you can collect gas cans that recover a little bit of the tanks energy. Make sure you take good care of the tank, as it really is invaluable in beating the game.

The tank has a rapid firing machine gun that is much like the heavy machine gun weapon, except you can constantly fire this one diagonally. By pressing the C button you can also fire powerful projectiles from its cannon. If you press down while in the tank you can also make it duck down (!), and while doing this, pressing C will make you throw out grenades at quite a fast rate. You can use this to your advantage - as you can throw them very quickly you can do a lot of damage, and this works very well against the bosses. Perhaps a little too well in fact ;-)

If you duck down and press B you will jump out of the tank and be invincible for a short time... this can be used to your advantage as well! Finally, you can make it self destruct by pressing A + B together - this will send it shooting across the screen, and it will explode and do some damage to whoever or whatever it hits. Be extra careful not to press these two buttons by accident... to be honest I would have preferred it if Nazca had utilised the D button for self destruct, as it isn't used for anything else.

One thing about this tank – Masamune Shirow fans will probably notice the similarity between it and “Bonaparte” from the Dominion Tank Police manga/anime series. Being a big fan of Tank Police, I think that the tank is really cool, and I guess Nazca's development team did too!


When you see Metal Slug for the first time, the graphics are definitely the thing that will attract you to it. The Neo Geo may be an aging platform, but to this day I am still impressed by what it is pushing here.

The first impressive thing is the level of detail in all of the artwork. Every stage that you venture through is lusciously detailed, from the enemies that you fight right down to the backgrounds, and Nazca must have put a hell of a lot of effort into this area of the game - there is almost too much detail at times! A lot of items litter each stage that are destructible too (like the flags and a big clock at the beginning of stage 2), and if you want you can just shoot them to pieces which really enhances the feel of the game. The other great thing is that the stages are quite varied; there may only be six of them, but they at least stand out on their own as separate entities. Many other games look positively drab in comparison to Metal Slug.

All of this detail would be lost if the characters themselves were not animated well, but I am glad to say that this area of the game is absolutely superb. In fact, the animation is one of the defining aspects of every Neo Geo Slug game. The game is presented in a very slapstick manner, and it never takes itself too seriously at all, which is a great thing. As mentioned in the weapons section, enemy soldiers can be shot down with your Pistol or Machine Gun, set on fire with the Flame Shot, obliterated with the Rocket Launcher, or just disintegrated with the almighty Shotgun, and all of these deaths are done in a very comical style. It may sound sadistic, but a lot of satisfaction can be taken from dispatching your enemies in this game due to the humourous animation, so in this case the graphics actually do help the gameplay a little. They don't just die in entertaining ways though, you will see many other funny animations throughout the game too, but I won't spoil things for you by telling you about them all.

Not only are the soldiers animations very well done, all the vehicles look great too. The Tank Slug moves very well features some funny animations (like being able to duck out the way of oncoming projectiles), and all of the enemy vehicles are similarly well done, as are the impressively detailed stage bosses. Overall this great animation really brings the game to life and gives it a wonderful atmosphere.

Unfortunately there is one thing that lets the side down a little bit, and that is the slowdown that happens fairly frequently. The Neo Geo's 68000 processor is really being pushed to the limit here and it does show pretty bad when the game starts to crawl when a number of enemy sprites are on the screen. It is kind of strange though, as the slowdown is something you just learn to deal with in this game and you barely notice it after you have been playing for an extended period of time.

Go to Page 2 - Sound, Stages and Overall Rating

Back to Neo Geo Reviews -->

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