Sunday, July 31, 2011

Metal Slug 3: Funny and Gimmicky Style

Metal Slug 3 barely qualifies as an unreleased game. It first arrived on the Neo Geo in 2000, and it was since ported to the PlayStation 2, the Xbox, the Wii, the PSP, and the Xbox 360. In truth, the only unreleased Metal Slug 3 is the North American version of the PlayStation 2 port. SNK Playmore prepped it in 2004 only to be shot down by Sony execs who still didn't care for 2-D action games. Metal Slug 3 made it to the PS2 in Japan and Europe, but North America saw only a few review discs made for members of the press.

No, I don't have a review disc. But I have the flier that came with it!


The flier's front shows the same art SNK used for the game’s original Neo Geo game. Drawn by Shinkiro, it's a sampling of Metal Slug 3’s attractions: hidden tunnels, angry yetis, giant eels, walking eyes (say it like Doctor Venture for best effect), and a war between the standard Metal Slug villains and a race of invading aliens. Yes, Metal Slug 3 has all of this in magnificent detail. It’s a gem from SNK's hottest creative streak, which also included Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves and SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium. Of course, SNK followed up its greatest successes the only way SNK knew how: by going bankrupt. That’s the SNK we remember.


The other side of the flier has another SNK staple: delightfully not-quite-right English. SNK was known for distinctly bizarre translations in its games, ranging from slightly off wordings to victory quotes where characters were happy as oysters and kindly gave the palm to such a crock. This Metal Slug 3 flier doesn’t reach those heights, but it offers "diverged ways" and “the new scale of the game with funny and gimmicky style.” And that’s also the SNK we remember.

Metal Slug 3 is easy to find today. Unshaken by Sony, SNK Playmore brought the Xbox version to North America in 2004, and the game is readily available in the Metal Slug Anthology and on Xbox Live Arcade. You'll find that Metal Slug 3 holds up rather well, even if its modern incarnations are missing something: an awkward translation.