We can try to fight it with intelligent puzzle games, brain training and stimulating maths-based gameplay, but there’s simply no substitute for balls-out, run ’n’ gun, senseless blowing-shit-up, simulated violence.
Maybe Jack Thompson was right after all, but it doesn’t change the fact that gaming suffered when it become educational.
Metal Slug Mobile 4 remembers what the arcades used to be like, and reminds you like a bullet to the brain.
According to the title this is Metal Slug Mobile 4, but the number isn’t important. Focusing on trivialities like the game’s place in its proud lineage is to miss the point of a brazen action title like this.
It’s Metal Slug through and through, and that’s all that matters. For many gamers out there, knowing it’s a faithful conversion will be enough for you to make up your mind as to whether you want/need SNK Playmore’s latest offering.
Once the bullets and grenades started flying, I was reassured.
For those who never delved into the seedier corners of the arcades during the early '90s, Metal Slug is a series of run ‘n’ gun platform games in which you take a one man army to war - rescuing POWs and killing anything that isn’t a POW.
Along the way you can hop into some deliciously over-the-top war machinery (Metal Slug tanks - from which the game derives its name) and unleash an all new level of hell upon the local militia.
We’ve seen quite a few new interpretations of Metal Slug games on different formats recently, including Metal Slug Mobile 3, Metal Slug 7 on the DS and Metal Slug Anthology on the PSP, and all have been great. This mobile addition to the franchise is no different, and recreates the outrageous action and comic characters admirably.
The graphical style is a big part of Metal Slug’s heritage, and even on the micro-screen it’s clearly recognisable as an offspring of the Neo Geo classic.
The bombs and explosions shake the handset every bit as much as the coin-op managed back in the day, with little in the way of noticeable slow-down as the screen fills with eager cannon fodder.
There are only four missions, but each one is split up into four levels, so the overall gameplay length is perfectly acceptable.
To fans of this niche genre, there’s plenty to do - shooting in all directions, climbing the scenery and positioning yourself to snipe well-equipped enemies or land grenades on opposing Metal Slug tanks. Brawn and mayhem rule supreme.
But for the sake of completeness, it’s probably important to say that Metal Slug Mobile 4 doesn’t really harbour much for pocket gamers who aren’t filled with nostalgic vinegar when they hear the name ‘Neo Geo’, or those who prefer a bit of cerebral interaction alongside their virtual bloodshed.
No, this is a pure and unabashed double-barrel destruction derby, and you’ll mostly be forgiven if that kind of button mashing isn’t your bag.
For everyone else, it’s reassuring to see the Neo Geo’s bread and butter gaming lives on even in mobile format (wasn’t there a handheld Neo Geo back in the day?), so keep a bloodshot eye peeled for our full review.