Metal Slug X( Holy shit, three games left, and I'm actually going pretty fast.) Hell, I was able to beat this game in a day, which I don't remember doing when I originally played Metal Slug X on the Neo Geo...emulator I got working a little while back. Then again, the game's short as hell, only having six levels and not much reason to go through them again (there aren't any branching paths, and all the very ugly characters play exactly the same). Then again again, it's awesome enough to get away with being ridiculously short. Then again again again, let's just get on with the damn blog.
How the hell do I describe Metal Slug X?.....I'd probably go with "pure." I'm not saying that it's a virgin or anything (we all know Metal Slug X is a dirty, dirty slut), but that it's purely dedicated to one thing: shooting. That's the premise of the entire game. Each level drops you into a random country, and your job is to kill everything in it. Why are you firing enough bullets to make Rambo look extremely left-wing by comparison? Who the fuck cares? Metal Slug X's approach to story is to shoot stuff until the story catches up. Somehow, this approach eventually works: you find yourself in the sewers, shooting at aliens and zombie things (they may be aliens; it's hard to tell, since story isn't a priority for this game), and then find out that aliens plan to take over the Earth. Unfortunately, they seem to be good at it, too, since they take the last villain and shove things up his butt while simultaneously surrounding you with what is essentially a death rave. Needless to say, this game has a weird, over the top sense of humor. (I didn't need to say it, but I like to go above and beyond, even though I never really 100% any of the games I play.) For example, every soldier you shoot lets out an oddly satisfying death scream when you tear them in two with your gun. That may not sound like much, but trust me, it makes after you win a boss fight in the final level, a whale eats the corpse of your defeated foe, for no reason. I wish I could think of something that awesome. Hell, I'd end this blog with a whale eating it, but Giant Bomb's multiple background colors would certainly fuck that up.
Also, sort of like how they fucked up the prisoners by making them more awesome. No, I'm not talking about their names (they had those before and they don't really do much), but the fact that they help you in battle. I can somewhat understand why the prisoners didn't break themselves free in the first one (they may not have known how to use weapons), but all those excuses die a painful death when your prisoners can hadouken their way through levels. Then again, they may have been locked up because they aren't very good at hadoukening; they just walk right and fire flaming energy balls so impotent that they've been looking into Dan Hibiki tutoring. It doesn't matter if a swarm of aliens is piling on you; if there's so much as one soldier in the way, even if said soldier is shooting from their deathbed, that prisoner's going for him first. This is how you thank me for rescuing your ass from a pole? Unless you have a better way to thank me, you're going back on the pole. Wait, I forgot that they still give you weapons. These guys automatically rock now.
And they're not just handing you the same crap you've seen in previous games, like the knife, which is clearly not a gun, or the rocket bad-yet-indiscernible-accent; this time, you get so much more, like a handheld cannon (it's not a gun; it's pretty much a cannon, like what pirates use), a Bombchu gun, and lasers. Tons of lasers. OK, technically, there's only one Laser weapon, but it never looks the same, and since the game doesn't explain it, I'm just gonna say that there are multiple lasers. Why? I don't know. There are already enough weapons in the game, and they're all pulled off well enough that you never get pissed about Prisoner Whydoyouhaveaname giving you the shotgun or whatever. Predictably, this is where I'd call the system perfect, but it isn't. For example, only one weapon at a time. You want to switch shit up on the fly? Then piss off to Alien Soldier, you pussy; this is Metal Slug X, a man's game. You're only going to get one weapon at a time, damn it! Hell, you can't even go back to the previous weapon you were using if you run out of ammo with your current weapon. Instead, you just go back to your default pistol, where you quickly remember that the game has no turbo feature. Keep in mind that this is an intense game, where the time not spent shooting is spent shooting, and that there's one portion of the game where you have to hammer the fire button like crazy or die. I realize that this was originally an arcade game meant to suck money out of ten year olds, but I was playing the PS1 version. Keep in mind that the PS1 has a ton of extra buttons you could use for anything I described here. Damn it, SNK! You were supposed to use this opportunity to improve Metal Slug X.
You know, like how you used Metal Slug X as an opportunity to improve Metal Slug 2. Ideally, this would be where I start talking about vehicles, but it's only going to end up sounding exactly like the weapons portion. Like the weapons, the vehicles have been greatly expanded from the original Metal Slug, encompassing a bomb-pooping pair of legs, a plane.....*checks FAQ*....and a camel, once. OK, so the changes aren't as drastic as they were for the weapons, but they're still pretty cool. Hell, each vehicle basically has their own boss waiting for them (only a boss, sadly; not the entire level), squeezing as much use out of them as possible. The only real common factors for any of them are a useless suicide-ish attack and, again, control issues. If this game has one major failing, let it be this: controls. For the vehicles, the controls for movement are the same for aiming. This may not sound like much, but let's say that you want to fire directly up and dodge shit simultaneously. Move forward, and you'll end up shooting at a 45 degree angle. Of course, we're assuming that you're using your main guns; missiles only fire in one direction, and you're not always guaranteed to have an enemy in the line of fire. I'd say it makes the game harder than it should be, but I didn't find the game to be that hard. Challenging and satisfyingly intense, but not outright hard. Still, this game was so close to being perfect, but stupid control issues hold it back. You know what I'd like to see? An improved version of Metal Slug X that fixes all these control issues. You know, a Metal Slug XX . Wait....um.....Metal Slug XXX. Actually....uh...um....
- It's like Contra on crack. I could honestly use this one bullet as the synopsis, but damn it, I have rules.
- There's a shitload of new weapons and vehicles, and they all have one thing in common: crippling control issues.
- Overall, it's a decent mix of shooting and platforming. Decent enough to earn it the About Half of Treasure's Library Award.
A couple of blogs ago, I showed you the insanity of a YouTube LPer by the name of SirRonLionHeart. He was insane and very hard to figure out. Let's try that again, only with an LPer I actively like for the same reasons I'm scared of SirRonLionHeart.
Gekioh: Shooting King( Two games left.) That's right, two games left before I reach the ultimate goal. I'm calling it "the ultimate goal" because it's less wordy and more badass than "1000 beaten games." Anyway, something feels off, and it's not just the music. Why am I playing two PS1 ports of arcade shooters? And why the hell am I going for Shienryu (Gekioh: Shooting King on the PS1, for reasons that are never explained)? I didn't like Shienryu in the first place, and the PS1 version isn't that good, either. How the hell does that even work?
I'm not referring to the fact that the PS1 was pretty much better than the Saturn, but the fact that Gekioh adds so much more to the original Shienryu package. I'm not sure if I should include the CGI intro that screams 90s, because it doesn't really add anything to the game at all, but ignoring that, there's also a shitload of new graphical filters that I never used. You have a laugh track mode (bullets are funny, right?), a filter that makes the game look like it's drenched in urine, a scary mode, and a couple of others that I'm too lazy to look up on Wikipedia. I never played on any of them, instead opting for the Gekioh Mode, which is either a stupid name for the regular campaign, or an odd translation for " we'll just superimpose the actual game over the title screen because we never figured out aspect ratios." It's the main mode; the one that all the other modes modify (graphically, though; they all play mostly the same). That said, from a technical standpoint, all the modes are fucked, since they're all building off the broken regular mode. By broken, I don't mean the gameplay's broken (more on that in a bit); I mean the music and stuff is broken. It could be an emulation problem, but sometimes, the music would just stop. I'd say it remembered that sound doesn't travel in space, but a significant number of levels don't take place in space. However, it sometimes remembers that there's music in the game, and pops in with about a second of music, for no reason.
I'm guessing it's because it suddenly remembers that the game has music, before suddenly losing all confidence and pulling out at the first second. And for good reason, too: along with being slightly not as good as it was on the Saturn, the music's kinda generic and forgettable, as it is in many games. In fact, I can't even remember what I wanted to say about the music, so unless you want to see me flip through notes in a vain effort to figure out what I want to talk about, let's move onto the gameplay. (If you actually want to see me do that, you're insane. Since I type my notes, I can't flip through them, you crazy person.) It plays a lot like the standardest of standard shooters. You weave through bullets, shoot a lot, and collect little missile thingies for points. What do they do? Give you lives. That's it. You'd think that for something you see so often, you'd get some type of benefit from it, like those P capsule thingies in Aleste, the obscure shooter that effing rocks. You know, like how this game really doesn't. Remember how Aleste had a buttload of weapons? You don't? You never played Aleste? Fuck you and everything you stand for. But back on topic, while Aleste had many weapons, Shienryu only has three weapons. First, you have your standard peashooter that you'll never use because it sucks. Next comes the lightning, which, while mildly useful and good at making you feel like Palpatine during that one part of Revenge of the Sith, isn't as useful as you want it to be. Finally, you have the missiles, which are like a slightly better version of the lightning, since they just kinda die after they're used up. While it may not seem like it, all these weapons have one thing in common.
They all make the game stupidly easy. I know that I say this about a lot of shooters, but holy shit, does Shienryu embrace this fault quickly. By the first level, you can just hold down the fire button (this time, you actually get turbo (yay!)), and everything is going to die. It doesn't exactly help that two of the three available weapons instinctively know where enemies are, or that you have a mega attack thing that destroys all projectiles, even if it's for a brief period of time. Also, you can fire both weapons simultaneously, just in case you want your foes to be more dead than they currently are, and feel that neither weapon can deliver satisfying levels of death on their own. Fortunately, though, by the fourth level or so, the game starts to realize how stupidly easy it is, and steps the difficulty accordingly. Their solution to lightning so powerful that it fucks up the screen, as seen above? Enough bullets to make Metal Slug X look like Rambo. Remember that Metal Slug X makes Rambo look like a staunch anti-gun hippie. We have now entered bullet hell, and it is mildly satisfying, weaving through bullets every few seconds. Hell, sometimes the game actually resembles that glitched-out screenshot. But it's not often. If you want decent bullet hell, I don't know what to tell you, since I don't play a lot of bullet hell shooters. However, I do know that this isn't that good a bullet hell shooter, especially since the first half of the game is pretty much the opposite of bullet hell. That's why I give it the Bullet Heaven Award.
- Out of a billion new game modes, only about two actually change the game in a manner approaching significance.
- Because of weak enemies and stupidly powerful weapons, the first half of the game is piss easy.
- The second half is harder, but that doesn't exactly make the game worthwhile.