The king and massive icon of the arcade-era, the Metal Slug franchise has had its fair share of ups and downs. After its departure from the arcade scene with the commercial decline of the genre itself, the main series has remained dormant since the release of Metal Slug XX in 2009, with poorly received spin-offs and mobile games taking center stage.
However, all hope is not lost. Though it may not be a return to true shoot-em-up form, DotEmu’s Metal Slug Tactics is delivering an all new strategic experience set in the Metal Slug universe complete with the charming pixel visuals and hammy presentation fans of the series know and hold dear to their heart. Here are some of our hopes for Metal Slug’s latest foray.
Non-Inclusion of Greedy Microtransactions
However unlikely it may be, this has to be stated. Recent Metal Slug games, particularly anything that has been released on mobile devices, have a huge draw to microtransaction usage throughout the game. Many of these games come off as soulless cash grabs taking advantage of gamers’ nostalgia for a quick buck.
A prime example of this is found in the mobile game Metal Slug Attack, where players are incentivized to use their real-life currency for a chance of better units and resources. These in-game advantages prevail in missions and PvP content, essentially making a huge chunk of mobile games pay-to-win instead of being reliant on skill.
That’s where the biggest difference between the original spirit of the arcade games and the current spin-offs are. Though both were reliant on money to function (the former being an arcade cabinet and the latter being a mobile free-to-play), money itself did not guarantee anything in the originals. Having a fat wallet indeed helps but being “good” would take players a long way (and save them a bunch of quarters).
Developer DotEmu specializes in “retrogaming”, bringing the best of gaming’s past back to the present, and is filled with passionate gamers who know and love the series they are revitalizing for a modern audience. With that in mind, our hearts can rest easy knowing that the game (and our wallets) are in good hands.
Deep Metal Slug Character/Unit Progression
From Metal Slug 6 and onward, all of the playable characters in the series had huge gameplay differences after previously being virtually identical aside from some visual differences. Each character would have personal perks and abilities that set them apart from one another, giving them a unique advantage the other wouldn’t have.
Metal Slug’s signature blonde protagonist, Marco, always has a more powerful default weapon than his peers. His partner-in-crime, the always shades-wearing Tarma, is an expert with anything vehicle related, giving all his ridden vehicles improved durability and damage output. Bandanna-donning Eri has unparalleled expertise with explosives and series’ favorite Fio specializes in special weaponry, like the Heavy Machine Gun and the iconic Rawket LawnChair.
It would be fantastic to see these differences play out in the strategic turn-based battles players will be waging across the pixelated battlefield. Given that players are only able to field three characters at once, having this sort of versatility will be an immense boon, not to mention incredible fun with all sorts of strategies to plan and implement.
Though it is speculative, we can see something of the sort throughout the reveal trailers we have so far. Tarma was shown to be the one rocking the classic SV-001 Metal Slug tank and Eri was seen holding a series’ atypical bazooka in the segment where the team calls in an airstrike to destroy a bridge.
The game’s Steam page has specified that it will play out as a tactical RPG with roguelike elements, each character receiving experience points after successful battles and unlocking upgrades and weapons to toy around with. However, how deep each character’s growth and progression goes has not been specifically stated nor described. Regardless of how exactly the characters and the progression pan out, with the way the turn-based battles take place along with specific destructible environments and the grid-based Sync Combo system, Metal Slug Tactics’ battles are bound to be incredibly fun.
Return of Metal Slug Staples
Among the hallmarks of the classic Metal Slug games, the ones that stand out the most are branching paths, transformations, and good ol’ loot.
Loot retrieved played a big part in the run-and-gun nature of the original Metal Slug games. Ranging from bonus point items and weapon power-ups, loot was instrumental in any Metal Slug run. With POWs visible throughout the trailers, hopefully they provide the characters with much needed firepower and upgrades as they duke it out with Morden’s Rebel Forces.
Transformations were a huge part of the arcade-era titles (Metal Slug 2 to Metal Slug 4) and brought about with them their own set of boons and banes. The iconic zombie transformation turned players into shambling undead versions of themselves armed with nothing but a handgun and the legendary blood vomit attack, capable of decimating entire columns of enemies. It would make for a fun twist on the tactical landscape Metal Slug Tactics is shaping up to be.
Branching paths were popularized by Metal Slug 3, widely regarded as the best title in the series as well as being objectively the hardest. Almost every mission gave the player different avenues to explore and venture into, each providing different sets of enemies, vehicles, loot, and vistas for players to experience. Seen briefly in the trailer, when players reach a new portion of the map, a whole new grid lands from the sky, expanding the battlefield. Branching paths can be similarly explored by offering different areas for players to take depending on the mission. It would give the game and its battles a wide variety of replayability to see just what every mission has in store.
Metal Slug Tactics is scheduled for release sometime in 2022. With all the love and attention DotEmu has been pouring into this project, our hopes are sailing higher than ever.