Nagoya Girls
Metal Slug Defense

I really drug my feet on this one because it was being called a strategy game. I was unsure of how SNK could make their flagship run & gun classic into a strategy game. It was in my "to play" games for a long, long time. Too long, actually. I admit it was largely in part to the game being classified as a strategy game. When I played it and realized it wasn't just a typical strategy game with no soul, I felt bad. I finally dug it up, played it, and learned a valuable lesson. That lesson was that I should never doubt SNK again. Why? Because they took all of the frantic mayhem of their flagship classic and turned it into a brilliant, calculating strategy game that actually takes reflexes. I should have know that no matter the venture, SNK will make it work well. After all, SNK had ventured into unfamiliar territory with the Neo-Geo when they made classics like Bust-A-Move and Crossed Swords.


Rhythm Amongst The Chaos
Metal Slug Defense, although categorized as a strategy game, is hard to simply classify as such. The reason for this is because although the game is largely about choosing and sending units out to battle to destroy the enemy base, SNK put a timing element into the gameplay that requires reflexes and rhythm. That timing element is a sort of charge move that allows your units to do different actions than what they do on their own in battle. Some are alternate attacks, while others involve adjusting the length or speed at which actions come out. A good example is the sandbag unit; normally, this unit runs all the way across the screen and sets up sandbags right up in the enemy's grill, but you can use its alternate action to have it instead set those sandbags up closer to your base.


That unique rhythm is arguably essental in winning online battles. Yes, this is one of the few online Metal Slug games, and it is glorious! There is little to no lag, and unlike Xbox Live (where dealing with selfish, hard-up idiots is the norm), you don't have to hear bullshit banter! Not only that, but winning isn't impossible. Even if you battle an opponent with superior units, you can still defeat them if you plan and time everything right during the battle. Though expensive units can give you a huge advantage, timing is absolutely essential in this game. I've fought against players who had better, more expensive units than I did, but I still won because I was in a good timing rhythm (and they weren't). Of course, you don't have to use charge attacks; just don't expect to win very much. With units that attack, using charge attacks and knowing how they replenish create a unique rhythm. The balance is good, and matches go to the wire.

The Gang's All Here
SNK states on their site that only light units are available at first, with more joining as you progress. This is no exaggeration; from the snow soldiers and skinhead gunner O Neil, to the giant Mars Mecha walker and even the colossal Jupiter King from Metal Slug 4! And they didn't even stop there; bio weapons like the eerie, towering Monoeye alien and disgusting Giant Caterpillar are also playable! In controlling both abominations and monstrosities alike, I couldn't stop thinking about how well SNKs IPs were utilized. New units unlock with progress, and just keeps getting better and better consistent DLC additions, featuring Ikari veterans Ralph, Clark, and Leona, along with Heidern, Whip, Iori, Kyo, Mature, Vice, Goro, and Benimaru from The King of Fighters!

Playable or unplayable, the game has a huge roster, and every unit in that huge roster is brought to life with high-caliber animation. SNK's been doing great animation for years, and it shows; Metal Slug Defense has all the animation from previous (2-D) Metal Slug games. It's chock full of the animation you love, and more. SNK went the extra mile and dug up tons of unused animation from those old games, so even long-time fans can experience something new. It's a real treat seeing these previously unused sprites, since at one point it was thought they would never see the light of day. You can see the tons of animation in every character, explosion, and stage on the screen. Like its predecessors, the amount of animation and detail in Metal Slug Defense is truly astonishing. Metal Slug has always had a distinct, somewhat humorous method of depicting the casualties of war, and it's this distinct style that has always set it part from the pack.

Soaked Up With Blood
As with most SNK games, the artistry in Metal Slug Defense is something to be admired and appreciated, if not praised and made tribute to. It's style continues to inspire, years and years later. Part of what makes Metal Slug Defense such a huge game is that you're always in a distinctly memorable place, fighting uniquely memorable enemies. The game's number of enemies are paired with over one-hundred different locales. Like the characters and animation, the backgrounds are from past (2-D) Metal Slug games, and are just as charming and profound as they were back then. From beatifully-textured serenity and nature, to emotionless metal and war-time industry, they all qualify as war grounds for Morden's indiscriminate forces.
  And they are as indiscriminate as ever in their bloodspill. For its cartoony graphics and playful nature, the game gets pretty brutal. Metal Slug Defense's cast is full of personality, and the myriad of ends they meet is guilt-inducing. Everyone loses; some in a peaceful hail of bullets, and others in the in a grisly explosion, meat shower, or flaming bloodbath. Still, SNK somehow finds ways to make the casualties of war humorous. POW roundhouse kicks connect with explosions of blood, incindiary weapons make recipients into human flares, and speeding Metal Slug tanks blaze trails of fire and blood in their wake. There are definitely moments where you sit and stare in disbelief, and moments where you instinctively voice that disbelief. "Shit! Did that guy just get smashed between two colliding tanks?!" Or, "did that guy just get blown into pieces?!" These are the types of things you will be saying as you play this game.
The Future Really Is Now
The audio in Metal Slug Defense is thick with nostalgia. It's just as charming and memorable as it was in the previous games. All of the epic tracks, sound effects and voices from the previous 2-D entries are back in full force. From the butt-rock guitar solos and symphonic suspense, to the infamous "THANK YOU" and "Rawkit Lauwnchuh" voice clips, it's all here. Every epic track is crystal clear, and largely more memorable than pretty much anything recent. The background music and sound effects all work in tandem to bring back memories of when new Metal Slug games weren't introduced through digigtal download, but through arcades. Of course, back then it you'd pump quarters into a Neo-Geo cabinet to play every new Metal Slug; it wasn't "free to play."
Metal Slug Defense gets chaotic to the point where explosions and debris blanket the screen, and the HTC One V runs the game just fine. There are slim to no hiccups and the game runs nicely, which is amazing, because this game gets absolutely crazy. As stated before, even in online battles the HTC One V runs Metal Slug Defense without a hitch. Achievements and all! It's truly a spectacle to see all the screen-filling bosses and explosive carnage of Metal Slug unfold on a screen the size of a credit card! Though quietly, SNK has embraced the future and their old slogan ("The Future Is Now") has stood the test of time. I would have never thought I'd be playing any SNK games on such a small machine. The HTC One V is even smaller than the Neo Geo Pocket Color! Props to SNK for making even their new games compatible across a wide variety of machines. Throughout history, the SNK's versatility is really something to appreciate - even today with a market leaning more and more toward mobile devices...  

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