The original Metal Slug had WWII-esque look to it, with you going through various western European looking locales. Metal Slug 2 has you travelling the world, starting with Egypt and adventuring through China. There’s also far more futuristic technology present, and the soundtrack is higher quality and more driving. Although Morden and company seem to be the bad guys again, it seems that the whole world is under attack from aliens (dubbed “Mars People”), which requires the two warring factions to make up and fight a common enemy. This results in an incredible finale, including an homage to the movie Independence Day. This game also introduces Fio and Eri, and lets the players pick whichever character they want to play as, instead of just making Player 1 play Marco and Player 2 play Tarma. There’s no difference between the characters.
There are several new vehicles in the Slug family, including a Camel Slug (a regular camel with a vulcan gun on its side), a flying jet called the Slug Flyer, and the strange Slugnoid, which is a two legged mecha which can fire rockets straight down. There are also other clever power-ups – or in some cases, power-downs. When fighting the mummies in stage 2, it’s possible to get turned into the living dead yourself, which causes you to shuffle forward slowly, hoping that you can find an antidote before something else kills you. By eating too many food power-ups, you can also turn “fat” (accompanied by the announcer going “Whoa-ho! Big!”), which doubles your firepower and turns your melee weapon into a fork, but also slows down your movement. It’s hilarious to watch them mow down enemies all while chewing on a leg of chicken.
The game amps up on the crazy scenarios, particularly in the second level, where you scale a seemingly infinite tower, desperately attempting to escape from a giant mechanical worm, who climbs up the screen, uses its jaws to crush everything in its way, and regularly blasts nearly the entire screen with a gigantic laser. There’s also another fight with Allen O’Neil, who, after getting killed, ends up being chomped on by an Orca whale.
The only problem is the absolutely crippling amounts of slowdown throughout the entire game, which causes it to move at a snail’s pace. Though there were no contemporary ports of the game (outside of the CD release), subsequent emulated releases (on the Anthology collections and for Windows) eliminate the slowdown simply by upping CPU speed. There have been some fan made patches that work on the original ROMs that rewrite the code to get rid of the most of the slowdown as well.
Metal Slug 2 Screens
Metal Slug X (メタルスラッグ X) – Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PSP, Wii, Windows, Wii Virtual Condole, PSN, iOS, Android (1999)
SNK was very obviously aware of the detrimental amounts of slowdown in Metal Slug 2, so they issued a revised version of the game, called Metal Slug X. It’s mostly the same game, but some aspects have been significantly remixed, like a director’s cut.
Although the levels are the same, many of the stage graphics have changed so you’re fighting through areas at different times of day – you fight in the first stage under the cover of night, instead of during the bright sunlight of day, for example. The music is basically identical, although like the visuals, some themes have been remixed and enhanced. There are more enemies and weapons in general, making for a much more havoc filled experience, plus power-ups and weapons are more prevalent. The first stage boss has been changed to a midboss later in the game, and has been replaced by one of the bosses from the original Metal Slug. There are plenty of new enemies, including mummy dogs in the pyramid levels, and new weapons, like the awesome Iron Lizard, which sends exploding mechanical devices flying along the floor, the bouncing Drop Shot, and the homing Enemy Chase. Plus, there are enhanced versions of all of the regular weapons – if you wield these when in “big” mode, they look different and are even more powerful. The ending also has some extra images rather than the stark black of the original Metal Slug 2. But most importantly, almost all of the slowdown is gone. It’s remarkable.
There’s no doubt that Metal Slug X fixes a ton of issues, but there’s still a decent argument that some may prefer the original game, primarily due to the visual changes and boss changes. Indeed, the daytime version of the Arabian market in Metal Slug 2 looks better than its nighttime counterpart in Metal Slug X. Though this would’ve been too much to ask in an arcade version, it would’ve been nice if the subsequent ports offered options to choose different elements and personalize their own favorite version of the game.
Metal Slug X is one of the most popular Metal Slugs since it got a US PlayStation release thanks to Agetec. In some ways, it’s a substantial improvement over the PS1 port of the original, as there’s none of the mid-action pauses, and loading only occurs when fading out from one area to the next. The animation has been cut substantially though – it really feels like a much cheaper game without the smoothness of the sprites or the explosions. The music is strangely bad too – rather than just streaming music from the arcade version (like the previous port), it opts to replicate on the PS1’s sound chip, and it sounds noticeably worse. Plus, the knife attack doesn’t work quite the same way, since the crouching stab animation was removed, and various weapons have been rebalanced a bit. However, at the time, in the absence of any other better ports, it’s workable. You get unlimited continues and resurrect right where you die, making it easy to get to the end.
Both the Neo Geo CD and PlayStation versions offer a Combat School mode, which is pretty much just like the first game, featuring a new instructor called Meg. You can chat her up to learn more stuff about her, depending how well you’ve done in the Combat School missions. Once you beat the game, you also unlock the “Another Mission”, a set of 14 mini-missions with unique goals. Sometimes they involve navigating obstacles without the use of weapons. Others are stranger, like trying to see how many soldiers you can nail by tossing rocks at them. These are all brand-new levels, despite how brief they are. Again, like the first game, there’s a full art gallery with tons of concept art.