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January 20, 2004
Metal Slug 3 - Review
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Taking on the chopper...
If you're a hardcore gamer then you would have heard of the SNK Neo Geo. The system was released into the arcades in 1990 and then as a home console which sold in America for $US650 (about $850). The games, being that they were on cartridges around 4MB and up to 100MB in size (compared to 0.5MB or 1MB for SNES or MegaDrive) sold from about $US200, and up to $500. Not surprising then that the games were rare, but as the arcade and home units were identical hardware the home versions of games were identical. The beauty of this system was its power. Even today the 2D sprite handling ability is extremely impressive.

One of SNK's most popular series' is that of Metal Slug. Metal Slug 3 is actually the fourth game in the series and to this day a copy of the game can cost you up to $US500! Forget the bells and whistles, forget the particle effects, forget the 3D environments and what you are left with in Metal Slug 3is possibly the most pure and adrenaline pumping side-scrolling shooter in history.

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The character select screen.
Gameplay in Metal Slug 3 is fast and frantic. As a side scrolling shooter it includes several different gameplay elements. As well as running your character (of which there are four to choose from) can jump in a tank, plane, helicopter or ride a camel or elephant. The controls, as expected, are accurate and responsive, although it only uses the D-Pad for movement making angled shots a little more awkward (how quickly we've become accustomed to analogue controls!). Bosses often take up more then half the screen and require some serious blasting before being destroyed. Hell, in some area's you'll probably lose 20 lives in the attempt, As with every great game there are hidden areas to discover. Most of these include bonus items, or more prisoners to rescue. Upon completing the arcade game two new exclusive levels are unlocked. The first is "Storming the UFO Mother Ship" which allows you to play as one of Morden's soldiers. Being that these guys are pretty weak it's a tough challenge. The second exclusive level is "Fat Island" where the object is to eat as much food as possible and gain weight!

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One of the hidden areas.
It must be said that there are a couple of disappointments with this title. The first is the lack of extras. Sure, there are a couple of new extras, but with such a classic game I was hoping for a few unlockables, even if they were posters, interviews or even text detailing some history. From a gameplay standpoint I'm a little disappointed by the unlimited continues which means you can finish the game on the first attempt if you wish. This may reduce the value of the title to some. Personally I would have loved to see a full price game containing all six Metal Slug title released to date.

Graphically Metal Slug 3 is quite possibly the most beautiful 2D graphics ever drawn for a video game. The backgrounds are diverse and look splendid however it's the sprites which make this game so special. Not only are they superbly animated but also have more character then almost every other video game in recent years. The bosses are a sight to be seen. They aren't only massive in size, but also extremely well designed. When a boss turns up you'll know it. Fans of the Metal Slug series will be pleased to hear that this game includes the red blood, and is not the toned down US version.

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Watch out for the planes!
In its day (which was 1991) the Neo Geo was spectacular hardware for its sound. It was the first system to synthesize speech with some level of quality. Compared to today's standards it's superficial, but in its day it was revolutionary. The music, however, still holds up pretty well. Sure it's not CD quality - games still used synthesized music in the 1990's, but there is no denying the music style and composition which is superb.

Metal Slug 3 is a classic game, no question about it. Is it worth your money? If you like retro games, side scrolling shooters, or something out of the ordinary then this is the game for you.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICS2D sprite based graphics never looked so good. Sensational.
SOUNDPerfect replication, but by today’s standards it's a long way behind.
GAMEPLAYThis is hardcore gameplay at its finest. The 2-player is a blast.
VALUEAt only $49.95 RRP this game is excellent value for fans of the series.
OVERALLMetal Slug 3 may not have many extras or frills, but this game is as close to arcade perfect as possible - and I should know, I have the Neo Geo version here! An excellent port well worth adding to the collection.

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