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Run, Wash, and Gun- Metal Slug XX Review

I’ve always wondered: when someone starts a Laundromat, do they receive a free Metal Slug cabinet with their preliminary investment in washers and dryers?  In my brief-but-well traveled lifetime, I have never used a coin-op laundry center that didn’t sport a NeoGeo MVS loaded with one of the games in the Metal Slug franchise.  It was at these establishments, between rinse cycles, that I fell in love with Fiolina Germi and developed my hatred for General Morden.  Despite the release of several home versions ported to everything from the NeoGeo to the Wii, I never saw fit to take my Metal Slug experience away from the washing machine.  I’ve always had my doubts as to whether or not the series would have a leg to stand on in a home version, but I finally broke down and gave Metal Slug XX for the PSP a try.

Metal Slug XX is ostensibly a re-release of Metal Slug 7, which saw a release for the Nintendo DS over a year ago.  In the series’ seventh outing, the Peregrine Falcon Strike Force team up with the SPARROWS, from previous Metal Slug titles, and the Ikari Warriors (yes, those Ikari Warriors) to once again stop General Morden from taking over the world with his army of would-be Nazis and creating his New World Order.  At the end of the first stage, you defeat the mad general and give yourself a nice hardy pat on the back, but General Morden’s future army travels backwards in time, to the present, which is set 20 years into our future, to help Morden conquer Planet Earth.  Kojima himself would have difficulty coming up with such a convoluted story, but it doesn’t really matter, because the all you need to know is this: you have a gun; there are hundreds of fragile Nazis that bleed when you shoot them; walk to the right until they are all dead.

It’s the same formula that SNK has been using for 1996, and to be perfectly honest, the charm hasn’t lost its luster, even after 14 years of running and gunning.  The environments are beautifully hand-crafted and colorful.  Each and every character, from the 6 playable soldiers to the most insignificant Morden infantryman, is meticulously animated.  Each enemy sports dozens of fluidly drawn animations for a variety of scenarios: they taunt you when you die, they jump when you pick up a rocket launcher, they cringe before getting crushed by an elevator – there are tons of clever emotes to each enemy that go practically unnoticed, but go a long way toward keeping he game fresh throughout.

The main quest is seven stages long, but each stage forks into multiple paths, promoting multiple play-throughs.  Even so, the game feels deceptively easy, thanks to the advent of unlimited continues.  Without a limited supply of quarters as motivation, the urge to scream “I am invincible” and muscle through each stage is often too strong.  In fact, some characters respawn with a powerful secondary weapon, which turns player-death into a power-up rather than a punishment.  Players will lose any POWs they have collected when they continue, just as they did in the arcade, but after the last boss fell to the ground, I didn’t feel terribly motivated to go back to try rescuing any of them.  When the dust settles, and the main quest has lost its sheen, Metal Slug XX offers a Combat School mode that tasks you to clear 50 balls-to-the-wall difficult missions; some are fun, others are irritating, but all of them seem arbitrary without an achievement system.  

I still feel like Metal Slug belongs at the 7-11 or at a pizza parlor, but I suppose that is the beauty of handhelds.  As arcade cabinets start share the same fate as the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Megas XLR (that is to say “thought to be extinct, but still alive and well in my garage”), I can’t in good faith disparage a title that allows me to take Metal Slug with me when I do my laundry, for the inevitable day when it will no longer be provided on location. 

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

47 comments

  1. Great review, Desert. Where have you lived?

  2. You should mention it’s selling for $20!

  3. Whiskey for breakfast

    Actually, the great SNOLA wrote this one, although it actual seems like a game DE would like. Did he play it?

  4. My neighbor was selling his Neo Geo hardware, and I just picked up MS1 and 2 for 50 busks each. Good deal or no? They are in decent condition.

  5. First review I’ve read for this. I just realized it came out a few weeks ago.

  6. $20 is good, but I picked up the Metal Slug Anthology which has 6 times as much content for the same price.

  7. If I already have the DS, is there a reason to get this one. Any major differences?

  8. Metal Slug, the game that never really changes, but people still love.

  9. Are we talking about a NeoGeo Cart system, or an arcade cabinet? The Arcade carts go for about $50 online, so you got it for a fair price, but I’ve seen the first Metal Slug game selling for peanuts locally. But then again, there are a LOT of NeoGeo machines in LA, and I can’t throw a rock in this town without it ricocheting off of a Metal Slug cart.

  10. Karnov needs to get to work with a Metroid-vania game with Metal Slug like characters.

    Remember it was Nick’s idea.

  11. Do you still wash your clothes between levels, SNOLA?

  12. I have moved 15 times in the past 25 years, and I have lived everywhere from West Point, NY to Wurzburg, Germany. I was an army brat – I moved around a lot!

  13. It’s a big ass black MVS cart.

    Man, you guys are so lucky is there’s that many used games around.

  14. Cool review. I just spent my last $20. Which would have been around 80 credits. I hope to get my moneys worth.

  15. I actually brought my PSP to the Laundromat last weekend, but still ended up playing the Metal Slug 2 stand-up. When I ran out of quarters, I turned on my PSP to play some XX, but ended up playing Monster Hunter instead :\

  16. Do the Metal Slug games still have teh zombiez??? I liked the one where you had the big red beam and could kill everybody.

  17. Online coop, or just local?

    Tell me more about Combat School.

  18. I heard it was slightly remixed, but I cant confirm that as I haven’t played this PSP version yet.

  19. If you live near a major city, hop onto Craigslist and search for “Arcade” – I’ve found some pretty incredible deals like that (including a guy trying to offload a working Holosseum cabinet for $100!). Just make sure you have access to a truck if you find the motherload!

  20. SeanNOLA is awesome cause he takes the time to talk to the readers. Unlike some other writers (ahem, Desert! ahem, Karnov!)

  21. I troll Craigslist for sex. Who cares about games?

  22. Ad Hoc only, sorry!

    In combat school, a lady instructor will ask you to complete a challenge, such as completing a stage with only 3 lives. The better you do at the challenges, the more the instructor likes you and will flirt with you. If you played Metal Slug X on the PSOne, it’s essentially the same thing again. Fun, but like I said, I didn’t really feel compelled to give myself a gaming hernia for her affection.

  23. Might have to pick it up. I cant resist a new PSP game for 20 bones.

  24. How do you decide who reviews what game? Are you assigned certain games?

  25. Thanks. Nothing like flirting with Army chicks 😉

  26. Yes, it’s true. I have a soft spot in my heard for run-and gun games, since I first played Contra on the NES.

    I really enjoyed my Metal Slug XX playthrough despite each stage broken up into pieces, separated by a 4-5 second load screen. I noticed no slowdown even when the screen was filled with explosions. For anyone that’s a fan of the series and a PSP owner, it’s a no-brainer.

  27. Thank you! I *am* awesome, aren’t I?

  28. Good review. I might have to grab it. How long are the load times in the downloadable version, SNOLA?

  29. We don’t really have a system for decision-making. It’s basically whoever shows the most interest or has the most free time. If I go too long without saying “Hey DEagle, I want to review X-Game when we get it in,” I’ll get an e-mail saying “Do you have time to review Y-Game?” and if we’re equally interested in Z-Game, we dual review it.

  30. Is there any kind of demo for this one?

  31. I think this one is just the Nazis. But killing them never gets old, right?

  32. Very short, which is great, because it loads often. 2D games are notoriously slow on CD based systems because it has to load up every frame or every possible animation for every stage – which is why Capcom’s fighters were always best played on a Saturn with a RAM cart. With that in mind, I recommend the downloadable version (but keep in mind, I haven’t played it on UMD).

  33. How come Desert reviews the most, then you, and then Adam in last place, then? Is it just time or are there less games Adam likes?

  34. On my way to Gamestop this afternoon. This is on my to get list.

  35. I buy all things Metal Slug. It’s probably one of my favorite game series.

  36. My laundryman just has Bubble Bobble and a new Pac-man/Galaga machine.

  37. Man, I’ve been playing the series since it first came out. Why stop now. I’m glad Atlus is publishing more than just those guys with blue hair games that you like.

  38. I thought you’d be a fan.

  39. Is there really any difference in the characters that you pick?

  40. I’ve always go with the young Clint Eastwood looking guy.

    Hows the difficulty? Is there multiple settings?

  41. Any easter eggs in this game?

  42. Mine has Time Crisis and a broken pinball machine.

  43. I might have to play during this my next rinse cycle.

  44. Great review. You got me hyped.

  45. I love the art style of the Metal Slug series. Do you know if its always the same artists?

  46. There are differences in the characters – Some have stronger pistols or longer-ranged knives, and some will respawn with a special weapon every time they die (like Fio and her trusty Heavy Machine Gun)

    There are multiple difficulties, but like I said in the review, if you aren’t trying to collect the POWs, the difference in the difficulty settings will be how often you die, not how difficult the game feels.

  47. I’ve spent so much money on the series it’s not even funny.