How does this classic run and gun hold up on the Switch?
Way back in the year 2000, SNK released the quirky run-and-gun game Metal Slug 3 for the Neo Geo. Now it has been ported to the Switch, and the game still gives you just one simple goal: Run and gun your way through hordes of enemies and obstacles. And that’s not too easy.
Metal Slug 3 is filled with wonderful animated sprite artwork that bursts from the screen. The over-the-top reactions from enemies getting wounded and the huge, fantastic explosions charmed me right out of my socks. Combined with the beautiful and diverse backgrounds and set pieces for each mission, it’s easy to appreciate each frame of animation. Seriously, this is some of the best sprite work I've ever seen. The visuals are not perfect, though. The colors seem a little faded and the pixels aren't as sharp as they could be, but honestly the game still holds up well.
As previously mentioned, the gameplay in Metal Slug 3 is very simple. Choosing one out of the four different playable characters, you can shoot, jump, and use special weapons to help dodge and obliterate the enemies. If you free Prisoners of War scattered throughout the level, they thank you by giving you a weapon upgrade and a happy little dance. The levels feature branching paths that lead to different areas, some with new aesthetics. Throughout the campaign you'll encounter many different vehicles to ride and pilot, that vary from robots and submarines to elephants and camels. They are a blast to try out, each with unique abilities to aide you in killing swarms of enemies. There are gigantic bosses at the end of each stage that prove to be both worthy foes and bullet sponges. These are a treat for the eye and quite challenging.
Metal Slug 3 is a very hard game, so be prepared to die a lot at first. The learning curve is steep, but once you figure out attack patterns and learn how to dodge, everything can start to click. Luckily, there is no physical Coin Slot included on the Switch, so you don't have to keep spending fistfuls of quarters to continue playing. Instead, you have unlimited continues at your disposal and can push through the campaign relatively easy. Also included on this version of the game are lots of options to adjust to your preferences, though you may have a difficult time sorting through all of the menus. You can adjust the difficulty, button settings and even turn the Blood Display on or off. Any changes made to the game require you to reset the game and lose your progress, so it might behoove you to set up your preferences from the get-go.
Just like in the arcade, at any time you can add in a second player to cooperatively play with and help you gun those enemies down and get higher scores. There is an option to play multiplayer with a single Joy-Con each, but you will need to set that up with the controller settings on the Switch's home screen, not in the game's own menu. Having to go through different menus can be a con for the convenience factor, but it is still a joy to be able to play together. You can also compare your scores with others on the Online rankings, which is a welcome feature.
All in all, Metal Slug 3 is a great game to have on your Switch. It doesn't feature the best emulation, and the controller options could be clearer, but deep down it is a very solid game full of delicious, sweet eye candy. The ability to play on the go and on your TV seamlessly is definitely a plus, and the overall quirkiness of running and gunning your way through the game will be something you will never forget.