Platform: (PS4 version reviewed) previously available on
Released: April 2015
I guess this is one part retro review, one part recent review, as Metal Slug 3 was just re-released for the fifth, maybe sixth time, on the PS4 (along with the PS3 and PSVita). I’ve lost count to be honest. I’m sure Wikipedia has the numbers. All I know is I remember playing through this game a number of times on the PS2, and I loved it back then, but that was about 8-10 years ago, for a game that is now 15 years old, so the question is: Does this hold up?
“Oh god yes!” would be my response if I was at the pub, and I wasn’t obliged to explain why I held such a view. But here we are, with you reading my words and wondering why I’m not getting to any form of cohesive point, and instead opting to hold your attention by spinning some elaborate and anticlimactic yarn that’ll culminate with nothing.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Metal Slug 3, another thing that holds your attention but has no point. There’s something about an evil general and an alien invasion, but who really cares when within 10 seconds on starting, you’re blowing up giant crabs on an idyllic beach. That’s all the exposition I need! Point me in the direction of the bad guys! From there, Metal Slug 3 quickly becomes a whistle stop tour of strange locales and wretched hives of scum and villainy, stopping off at zombie outbreaks, underwater bases, the Arabian desert (home the world’s most incompetent terrorist cell) and even space. Yes, even the great black beyond isn’t safe from the constant barrage of explosions and screaming in fear minions.
For the uninitiated, Metal Slug is in the same vein as Contra, a 2-D side scrolling shoot ‘em up where enemies line themselves up and you shoot them dead. Simple enough, right? Events quickly deteriorate into constant enemies and explosions as the action comes thick and fast, with power-ups like rocket launchers, laser guns and homing missiles only adding to the obscene melee. Once you’ve made it past that, you’re treated to boss fights against goliaths that engulf the entire screen, as you frantically try to fire your peashooter of a primary weapon into their weak spot. It’s some truly tense stuff, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I could talk at length about how difficult the game is, or how much fun it is to sit on the couch (or online, which can be just as fun) for hours blasting through waves of bad guys. And I do mean hours. You’ll spend about an hour on the last level alone. It just doesn’t end! I could also mention the branching pathways, which give you a slightly different challenge for each playthrough, but for me, they’re not what make this game special.
The reason why you’ll keep coming back to Metal Slug 3 is because it has that intangible. To borrow a well-known phrase, it has a certain “X Factor”. Metal Slug 3 just oozes charm from every available orifice… If a game in any form can even possess orifices, or the ability to ooze. Meta-digital debates aside; you can’t help but fall in love with the style of the game. Yes, it’s wholeheartedly silly, and enemy types are an eclectic mix to say the least, but you can’t laugh but giggle to yourself as they scream in shock at you respawning. No other game would make being fat a power-up. Again, watching a portly version of your usually slender characters waddle around the level, still managing to keep up with the minutely enemy blasting quota, is hilarious, and something you can only find here. I could gripe about the lack of alternative game modes (the PS2 version offered a couple of bonus game modes, but nothing really essential), but who cares when you’re having this much fun. Buy this game now, and then pester your friends to do so too.
Overall: A matchless side scrolling shooter and some of the most fun you can have with your pants on. Or off.