Metal Slug 3
It's cool to be old school. We're living in technological age where just about anything is possible in the field of entertainment, but still we often look backwards for inspiration, and it's especially true with videogames. In a bit of an ironic twist, the Xbox, the most powerful console of this generation, is getting the old school treatment with a port of a classic 2D side-scroller: Metal Slug 3.
Metal Slug 3 is all about shooting stuff before it shoots you - a game that's true to its retro roots - but strangely enough, it doesn't show it's age in its gameplay. Despite it being a straight up port of a four-year-old game, Metal Slug 3 still a complete blast to play, and stranger still, it's hard to explain just how that's possible. There are a million side-scrolling shooters out there, but Metal Slug 3 is undoubtedly heads above them all. It never deviates from the standard side-scrolling shooter formula of throwing a million enemies on the screen so that the player can somehow find a way to compensate with quick reflexes and sharp timing, but it still feels strangely unique. There's also this undeniable feeling of satisfaction that overcomes you when you wade through a hail of bullets to obliterate enemies, and that in itself just might be what Metal Slug 3 is all about: providing brief flashes of old school gaming nirvana that's hard to find anywhere else nowadays.
In an age where it takes millions of intricately woven polygons filled with bump mapping to wow the masses, Metal Slug 3 is somewhat of an anomaly. It's easy to dismiss Metal Slug 3 simply because it's 2D, but it really does look great even if it's not technically advanced. There haven't been any improvements from the arcade version, but it's a near flawless port ' in fact, the framerate hitches that often occurred in the arcade can't be found in the Xbox version. Yes, the 2D sprites are in a low resolution, but that's made up with the incredible attention to detail. Subtle and not so subtle jokes abound everywhere and make it worth running through each level a few times.
And if you plan on seeing each level, then chances are you'll be running through each level over and over again because Metal Slug 3 is tough as nails hard. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, but the difficulty in it is coupled with an extremely limiting continue system that makes it unbelievably hard even on the easiest difficulty setting. You're given five lives max to complete each level and only a handful of continues that will take you back to the beginning of the stage, and for the easily frustrated, the results might be disastrous.
If you take away the smoky atmosphere, the pockets filled with quarters, and the pizza grease-laden control sticks, then what you get is Metal Slug 3 on the Xbox, a port that mirrors the arcade version in nearly every way. For some that'll be enough to warrant the $40 price tag, and for others it won't, especially with the unyielding difficulty level.