Name: Metal Slug X
Format: Arcade (NeoGeo), Sony PlayStation
Date: March 1999
Metal Slug X - Super Vehicle-001 (c) 03/1999 SNK.
A platform/shooter game.
This game is an enhanced version of Metal Slug 2 - Super Vehicle-001/II.
- From the MAME32 history.dat file.
In what can be only described as a bit of a cash in on the Metal Slug series, Metal Slug X is essentially Metal Slug 2.5. In fact, it's probably closer to Metal Slug 2.1, because there really is very little obviously changed in the game from the admittently very well polished Metal Slug 2.
For those who haven't played any of the Metal Slug series, here is a brief overview. You play a crack commando (at first the character depended on whether you were player one or player two, but later iterations of the series added a character select feature) who starts with a pistol loaded with infinite ammo (you do occasionally see the characters reload, but this is just a meaningless idle animation, and doesn't impair your ability to fire the gun constantly) and a close combat weapon. It is possible to pick up numerous other weapons such as the classic Heavy Machine Gun, Shotgun, Flame Thrower and more. The character also has a limited supply of grenades which can be used to great effect if you get the hang of the way the grenades fall. The best feature of the game, though, is the eponymous Metal Slugs - armoured war machines which can be driven around to bring expedient demise to the legions of enemy troops. After fighting through each 2D side scrolling platform level, you face a huge screen filling boss. Destroy that, and you're on to the next level.
It sounds simple, and it is, but it's the way that the game is polished to perfection, and you are never too far from death if you make a mistake. However, it is also a game concept that rewards skill - if you're good enough you can rattle through entire levels without taking a single bullet or grenade from the enemy.
Which is all very well. The problem is, while admittently, subsequent entries in the series have added little (2 added different characters and more 'Slugs.. 3 added multiple routes through the levels, much improved graphics, and an absolutely huge showdown at the end of the game), X adds virtually nothing to Metal Slug 2. The only possible excuse I can think of is that SNK wanted to put another Metal Slug game on the PlayStation (Metal Slug 1 went to the Sega Saturn and the Playstation, but Metal Slug 2 stayed on the SNK formats) and for some reason decided Metal Slug 2 was too old. They tarted it up a little, added a few extra features (a lot of the new features were taken from Metal Slug 3), and then chucked it out the door. Acceptable, in that respect, but I fear that many unsuspecting Metal Slug fans will have bought the game for NeoGeo while already owning Metal Slug 2. And since NeoGeo games go for something like 200 dollars a time, I guess you could say it would be a little annoying for those people. Still, I can forgive SNK, if only because they make some of the best 2D platformers I've ever played. Ah, how fickle I am.
Here is a list of the changes that I noticed between Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X.
- Although in general the bosses are exactly the same between the two games, the first level has a bit of a change. Instead of the Harrier at the end of the Arabian level, the huge red tank boss from level 5 of Metal Slug makes an appearance. The boss acts, as far as I can see, exactly the same. The Harrier turns up on Level 3 to act as a mid boss, and I think that it's easier to kill there, although I haven't counted the number of shots or anything to prove it.
- There are more places to pick up Slugs, and occasionally you even get a choice - for example, in the first level, where Metal Slug 2 gave you the Camel Slug, you get the choice between the Camel Slug and the original Metal Slug. Again, on stage three, instead of just the Harrier Slug, you can also get in a Gold version of the original Metal Slug, which seems to drive faster. Finally (that I can remember) instead of the pretty useless Metal Slug at the end of level (useless because the boss is in the sewers below you, and you can't really aim the cannon down to hit the boss) you can use the walking Slug, which has a downward firing cannon, which makes much more sense. Dunno why they didn't design it like that in the first place...
- There are some new weapons, all (I think) from Metal Slug 3. They include the "Iron Lizard"* which fires a little explosive car which drives along the floor, and the "Trap Shot" which gives you a gun firing a bouncing projectile. They are all reasonably amusing, but it can't be said that any of them really add a whole huge amount to the game, as I preferred to stick with the guns I knew how to use perfectly..
- Some of the hostage positions seem to be changed a little - for example, the comedy Hadoken firing hostage from level one of Metal Slug 2 (there are more, but he's the one who's position I know off by heart) is gone, along with probably a lot more. They just turn up in other places, really..
- Likewise, a few troop positions are changed, and there are more normal troops (as opposed to Arabs) in the first level. This really doesn't make any difference to gameplay, though...
- There are some colour changes - for example, the first level is set at night, when it used to be in the day, and the second level has different colours inside the tomb part. Also, (God this makes me sound anal) the clouds and the ground are a different colour during the final encounter - X has a more reddy pinky tinted showdown, while 2 has drab old grey.
- Some of the mummies that burped at you in the second level now fire flying insects - presumably mosquitoes - which act as explosive projectiles of "Mummy juice", causing you to become a mummy as with getting any other attack in that level.
There are probably a few more, but as you can see, they are all so trivial that you probably wouldn't notice them unless you knew they were there. In general, the Bosses, levels, music, and graphics are the same as Metal Slug 2, and so it's all a bit of a rehash. There's nothing bad about it - but it's just so incredibly similar you wonder why they bothered giving it a new name. I'm glad that nowadays all you need to do is download the ROM to play this (it emulates perfectly in MAME, NeoRageX, and probably more) because at least then you don't feel quite so bad when you realise it's pretty much the same game you downloaded yesterday. Still, if you are a true Metal Slug nut, then this is worth a play through, if only so you can say you have.
Playing the game through in MAME.
The MAME history.dat.
* - which I thought was a "Fiery Lizard", durrr. Thanks to OberonDarksoul for pointing that out.