You think you're hard. You wear your Arsenal kit in the Man Utd stands. You shout "Bomb!" at the airport just for kicks. But how about racing through half a dozen levels of old-skool arcade mayhem with naught but three measly lives? Metal Slug 3 promises to catapult thrill-seekers back to 1992, when arcade games still made money and twitchy side-scrollers ruled.
Since anyone with a gob of brains can grab MAME on their PC and fire up Metal Slug classics, SNK has done a little bit more than recreate the 2D arcade release. Six primary missions may not sound like a lot, but they're huge, and damn difficult too. Once the arcade challenge is completed, two bonus stages await, and Xbox Live leaderboards broadcast your skills to the world. The pace is as frantic as a steroids-fuelled sprinter's pulse; and your fingers will need to work like lightning.
Two Dimensions Is All You Get
So far, everything that defines the series is in place: ludicrous enemies, imaginative side-scrolling, multiple pathways and a total absence of plot. Mutated devil crabs, giant eels named Martha and hippy POWs abound, and that's just the first stage! (It's worth noting the abundance of soldiers to rescue - 1040 to be precise.) The arcade standard should be joyously upheld, so expect a verse/chorus/verse structure with varied stages, and multiple gargantuan bosses, like your favourite rock song cranked up to 11.
A garage full of new vehicles is in place, too, though this is no Grand Theft, er, Slug. Instead you simply commandeer gear like the Slug Sub and oddball Elephant Slug whilst traversing each level. Vehicle usage stats, along with stuff like kill ratios and completion time, will all be part of the data uploaded to the online boards for public view. Beats entering 'ass' on the high score board down the local, that's for sure.
Nostalgic players and those who never lost the thirst for twitch-drawn blood will eat it up. Who needs pixel shaders and bump-mapping anyway?