Metal Slug Anthology Wii
Published by: Ignition Entertainment
Developed by: SNK Playmore
Release Date: Out Now
For a console that claims to be designed to win over those who are normally put off by conventional gaming it seems a little odd that the Nintendo Wii is playing host to a collection of some of the finest side-scrolling action games of all time. Indeed those who until now have shunned gaming will be unaware of the Metal Slug's heritage. For around eleven years now (this compilation celebrates the 10th anniversary of the series that started back in 1996) the Metal Slug series has been thrilling arcade gamers everywhere and to date there have been games in the series that have appeared on various consoles. Metal Slug Anthology contains seven arcade perfect conversions and even includes control systems that utilise the unique control scheme that the Wii offers.
Metal Slug Anthology contains Metal Slug, Metal Slug 2, Metal Slug X, Metal Slug 3, Metal Slug 4, Metal Slug 5 and for the first time ever on a home console, Metal Slug 6. The games can either be played as a single-player experience or a two player co-op game. Either way the games are highly enjoyable. The games offer a variety of options to cater for both the hardcore enthusiast and those who are new to the series. It's possible to play with unlimited credits, meaning you can 'continue' until you've finished the level, and you can even save your progress if you wish, meaning you don't have to sit playing the game for hours on end which is a nice feature.
It's not possible to go into detail for every game that's included here but they all follow a basic pattern. First you'll pick one of the available characters (dependant on the game you're playing although Marco Rossi, the default character, and Tarma Roving are always available) and each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Once you've selected your character you'll embark on your mission. As with most side-scrolling action games, you'll move to the right of the screen firing your weapons, throwing your grenades to take out the waves of enemies that are heading your way. You'll also have to free prisoners and collect bonus items. Perhaps the best part of the game is having to combat the multitude of Metal Slugs that appear. These are heavily armoured tanks, helicopters, airships and such like that will take a lot of effort to bring down. Occasionally you'll come across vehicles that you can enter and take control of to give you greater firepower. There are also sequences where you'll be a passenger in a vehicle and will be travelling at high speed whilst you attempt to take out the enemies. The action flows thick and fast and from start to finish, it's pure adrenaline-pumping action.
One of the few disappointing aspects of Metal Slug Anthology is its control scheme. To put it simply the Wii remote just isn't good enough for the game. I played the game using the various control schemes, including the ones that take advantage of the nunchuk and the motion-sensing capabilities of the controller but none of them really worked well. Fortunately the game allows you to use a GameCube controller and without a doubt it's the best control scheme on offer. If, like me, you have a collection of Wavebird and corded GameCube controllers hanging around to use with your GameCube then this is absolutely fine but if you don't own a GameCube you'll definitely want to get your hands on a GameCube controller. Of course this might be an inconvenience but it certainly would be worth the effort, especially as there are many great GameCube titles out there and all of them will work on the Wii.
As mentioned earlier, these games are essentially arcade perfect conversions. Whilst that's certainly good news for hardcore enthusiasts (and we certainly have no problems with it) it also means that the graphical quality is certainly nothing special when compared to most of the games we see today. We played the games on both a standard TV set (using the official RGB scart cable) and on a HDTV (using the official component cable). Whilst the game looked great when playing on a standard TV it didn't look so good when playing on the HDTV. The picture didn't fill the screen and the picture was slightly misaligned. To be completely honest not all Wii games look that great when playing at 480p so it wasn't much of a surprise but nevertheless it was a little disappointing. It's not surprising that out of the seven games, it's Metal Slug 6 that looks the best. Here the pixelated look isn't as severe as in the other games and it's definitely more modern it its appearance.
The games in Metal Slug Anthology all use a liberal amount of synthesised speech and this speech isn't subtitled. The good news is that none of this speech is important. Rescued prisoners saying 'Thank You' and the names of the weapons you acquire being called out isn't really anything worthwhile. Sure you are losing some of the game's ambience but whilst that is disappointing it doesn't prevent you from enjoying the game. You'll see the word 'Go' appear on the right side of the screen when it's safe to move on and text prompts showing you that you can get in one of the various vehicles in the game. The HUD provides all of the information you need such as the status of your Slug, explosives and ammo stock, amount of credits remaining and your hostage count. Deaf gamers won't have any problems with the game.
Those looking for some classic side-scrolling action will simply love what Metal Slug Anthology has to offer. The games are very enjoyable both as a single-player experience and as a two player multiplayer experience. Of course with these games being arcade perfect, they were never going to test the graphical capabilities of the Wii but then again there hasn't been a single Wii game that you could say that about yet. The Metal Slug games have always been about the game-play and within minutes of playing any one the seven games in this collection you'll find yourself immediately hooked. Those who have chosen the Wii as their first foray into the world of gaming might not understand the appeal or heritage of this excellent series but I would urge them to give it a go. Provided you have a GameCube controller handy, Metal Slug Anthology is one of the best games currently available for the Wii.
Metal Slug Anthology is not only a great collection of some of the finest side-scrolling action games, it's also one of the best games you can currently purchase for the Wii.