The Essential Games: Metal Slug (1996)

The Essential Games highlights the games from throughout history that I would recommend almost anyone play, without hesitation. Check out the Index for more articles!

Metal Slug is certainly one of the best games ever made, and depending on what day it is, I might tell you it’s the best one. Of all of them.

It combines tight, classic, side-scrolling action gameplay with perfect level design and some of the best art, animation, and sound ever created.

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In Metal Slug, you run and jump while progressing to the right and shooting the bad guys. There’s a variety of powerups to collect that will give you better guns, and these are announced proudly by a goofy announcer. The game is loaded to the brim with personality and fun, and the hand-drawn backgrounds are crammed full of tiny details.

It’s a piece of art that you can play. And it hasn’t aged a single day.

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It’s almost as fun to watch as it is to play, just because of its tremendous personality. I first encountered the game as a kid in a Neo Geo MVS cabinet. The Neo Geo has many great games, but I think the Metal Slug franchise is by far its best.

Here’s a video of someone playing the game.

At thirty minutes long, it’s not the longest game in the world…but it has tremendous replay value thanks to its challenging difficulty and high score mentality. The game constantly toes the line between fair and frustrating, and has a compelling feel to it that was perfect for sucking more quarters out of you.

Where Can I Get It Today?

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to play Metal Slug in 2017. It’s been ported to just about every platform under the sun. Decent versions exist on Xbox One, PS4, and Switch. It’s available on Steam. It’s even on iOS and Android.

On PS4, you can also get an emulated download of the PS2 “Metal Slug Anthology,” which includes the first six games. If that’s your platform of choice, that’s probably the best pick. That collection also came to the Wii and PSP back in the day. The Wii disc will work on Wii and Wii U systems, and the PSP version is also out on Vita.

Many of the sequels are good…though they also reuse a lot of assets from the original game. But I can’t complain about them too much. More of a great thing is still a great thing.

If you’ve never played Metal Slug, I envy you. It’s one of the simplest arcade pleasures in the video gaming world, and fun whether you play alone or with a friend at your side. It’s pretty darn cheap to buy too. So go get it. And enjoy!

Every few months I remember that Metal Slug exists and how incredible it is, and I spend a week playing through the series. None of the entries are bad in any way…but the first one holds a special place in my heart for coming out of nowhere and being completely awesome.

Please click the heart if you liked this…then go play some Metal Slug!

Written by

I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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