You can’t deny SNK’s business savvy. It made a decent amount of money with its Neo-Geo, catering to both arcade and home audiences with its VHS tape-sized games, and now it’s revisiting these titles every chance it can get, between classic compilations for PS2 and digital releases for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. This past week, the company released a pair of new games plucked from its library, including Metal Slug 2. This game definitely delivers on its shoot-em-up action, but first you might want to check if you really need it.
The goal of the game is pretty simple. It follows the road map that Contra paved out so many years ago, with a one-man army blasting his way through enemy forces, picking up food and other power-ups from rescued hostages along the way. Metal Slug 2 does differ a bit from the first when it comes to level design, though the boss showdowns remain surprisingly complex. They literally throw everything at you while you blast away at their weak points. It sticks to a formula, but it’s a successful formula.
Now, I brought up the inquiry as to whether you really need it. That’s because this game has gone through a retweaking since its previous release, and has since become Metal Slug X. Now, that game was released earlier this year as part of the PlayStation Network’s PS One classic line-up, for the budget price of $5.99. Considering you’re getting an improved experience there compared to the one you’re getting with Metal Slug 2 at $8.99 (three bucks more), it’s pretty easy to see what the choice is.
Now, Metal Slug 2 does come with more options. The game has network support, so you can team up with a friend to plow through enemies, but you’re through it in about an hour, and the primary reason to go back is to try and shoot – literally – for better scores. Of course, games like this never get old for that kind of purpose, but we can’t help but wonder why SNK didn’t price it more reasonably. At five bucks, this would’ve been a steal. But nine? Why nine?
Other than the price quibble, Metal Slug 2 stays true to its Neo-Geo source code. The music is authentic war-themed battle music, getting slightly repetitive but keeping you in the mood to fire your weapon. The constant enemy screams let you know you’re doing your job well, too. As for the visuals, they’re classic hand-drawn stuff, and while SNK didn’t really do any HD enhancements here, the retro style will certainly be appreciated to some. And yes, the slowdown is still here – there’s nothing wrong with your system.
If you’re a completist that loves the Neo-Geo days and must have everything, we can easily see you investing in the likes of Metal Slug 2 and being happy with it, but despite the new network stuff and the untouched presentation, it’s just not as good a deal as Metal Slug X. This gunslinger’s lost a little spring in its step…maybe SNK can fix that with a price adjustment…?