Arcade-goers in the 90s know the gun-toting, fast-paced action of the Metal Slug franchise from pumping quarters into many of the fabled SNK-branded cabinets. A pistol, maybe a heavy machine gun or a shotgun might be all you need to take on hordes of enemies ranging from opposing militants to freakish monsters. It’s a series that never takes itself too seriously, but still manages to issue quite the challenge. SNK has taken to re-releasing the games for mobile devices, and Metal Slug 2 is the most recent to appear on the mobile screen. A near arcade-perfect port of the original, Metal Slug 2 offers almost too much action for the touchscreen platform to handle.
For those unfamiliar with the territory, Metal Slug 2 air drops you into the middle of a giant firefight with only a pistol and a handful of grenades to assault the ground forces with. This side-scrolling action title sends you through wave after wave of enemies, giving you new weapons along the way. Saving captured POWs along the way gives you bonus points and sometimes weapons. One POW even runs alongside you, throwing energy blasts from his hands to help take out the baddies. You also can’t forget the vehicles spread throughout the game, ranging from the eponymous mecha “Metal Slugs” to fighter jets and camels (yes, camels). Even the camel comes with a mounted machine-gun though, because this title gets arcade-level hard.
Lucky for you though, you don’t have to put quarters into your mobile device. I tested this on both a 5th gen iPod touch and a 2nd gen iPad, and it ran flawlessly on both. There are four different difficulties in this game, and you can select from four different characters for play (though they all seemed to play the same to me). There’s Bluetooth-based multiplayer, so you can bring a nearby partner into the virtual crossfire to help you out. Also, the touchscreen-friendly mode allows you to turn on auto-fire, which keeps you from mashing the hell out of your device. You’ll need all the control-based help you can get though, because the wrong-sized screen makes it hard to play with virtual controls.
Metal Slug 2 does let you customize the placement of the control stick, pause button, and action buttons, but I could never find a good place for them that didn’t get in the way of the action or end up so cramped that I mis-pressed buttons in the heat of battle. It also doesn’t help that many weapons simply don’t fire diagonally, and precise movement is necessary to position yourself for shots while staying alive. This was part of the original design of the game, but it doesn’t quite feel right in a modern shooter. This was especially a problem on the tiny iPod touch; the large format of the iPad almost felt TOO big and unwieldy. Those of you with 7-inch tablets should feel like you’re in the sweet-spot for this game.
Metal Slug 2 is a great trip back to retro-arcade action, and it’s not a bad cost at $3.99 for being such a good quality port. Those of you looking for a classic shootout and have a large cellphone or small tablet at the ready would be wise to pick this one up on the Apple App Store or Google Play.