Developer: SNK PLAYMORE
Price: $3.99 Download on the App Store
Since 1996, arcade machines, Neo-Geos, and consoles of all shapes and sizes have been bestowed by the glory of Metal Slug, a truly amazing run-and-gun game by Japanese developer SNK. More than a dozen different games have been sold in the franchise. Now Metal Slug 3 is available on your favorite iOS device, bringing with it the gameplay you love and a few new tricks, too.
By far (and like many game-ports) this is not a new, fancy edition in the Metal Slug franchise. Instead, SNK has taken Metal Slug 3 and rebooted it for the iOS platform, tossing in some neat features such as record keeping and mulitplayer via bluetooth.
While not exactly original, SNK does justice to the legacy of Metal Slug on Apple's high-end hardware. For gamers, the iOS edition of Metal Slug balances the classic gameplay you want with the modern features you expect.
In almost every aspect, Metal Slug 3 shows polish. The controls, albeit virtual, are a great copy of what you would have expected from your Neo-Geo or arcade machine back in the '90s. The placement is excellent for simple use, though there are some concerns (see later). The Bluetooth local multiplayer is an awesome feature and not just a gimmick, though online co-op is a missed treat. The graphics are very sharp.
The biggest concern in Metal Slug 3 comes from the virtual controls and how they operate on the small screen of the iPhone and iPod Touch. The game has a lot going on at all times, and while it's hard to handle shooting vertically or throwing bombs with virtual buttons, it's even harder when you can't see much of the screen! Unless you have very small fingers, the tiny real estate of the smaller iOS devices will leave you frustrated trying to view the gameplay while managing the controls. This doesn't necessarily make the game unplayable, but much more difficult than say, on the iPad. This is something many iOS games face, and it's something that SNK should have considered when designing the controls. Nevertheless, this isn't a huge con in exchange for many quality features found in Metal Slug 3.
In the end, Metal Slug 3 is not cheap compared to most iOS apps. With a hefty $6.99 price tag, gamers may cringe a little when reaching for the credit card. However, like its predecessors, Metal Slug offers countless hours of entertainment. In mission or arcade mode, it is truly an amazing game and while the iOS platform is a bit of a curse for the game's functions, it certainly is even more-so a blessing to the App Store.