| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Platformer; loc=JPN] |
|The venerable jump and shoot series of mass sprite carnage continues, now in the arcade on newish Atomiswave hardware, ported seemingly intact to the PS2. Not that I played it in the arcade, but it just seems to run pretty well in the home version. The game doesn't take advantage of high resolution graphics (except in menus) or effects like transparencies, really, that the development team could have used on the Atomiswave; it still looks pretty much like the low-resolution Slugs of yore, only with more sprites onscreen, with less slowdown, which hey is a good thing!|
MS6 adds two new playable characters, Ralf and Clark, of King of Fighters fame (see entry 143). That wouldn't mean that much, except that the different characters have different stats now, some doing more damage than others, according to little bars under their portraits, at least. I'm not sure how the health thing works out, though... (Oh, GameFAQs says it's resistance in a vehicle, and also that Ralf can take two hits, and has his own special attack, too. Dang, I gotta play me some Ralf.)
There's another important button now, too: weapon switch. Now you can have actually three guns at once: the standard, unlimited ammo pistol, and two other, more powerful weapons that you pick up along the way. They start you out with a Heavy Machinegun that you can switch to right off the bat. (Oh, this is just my honey Fio who gets this, actually. You go, girl.)
Many of the old weapons come along either in x2 (one in each hand) or Super (massive shot power) versions. The huge burning red beam of the Super Laser weapon is something to see. These are very nice additions.
Oh yeah, and there's a scoring multiplier that builds up as you hit things, and gradually decays as you don't. It doesn't really change how you play, since you're always trying to blast things as quickly as possible, but it's kind of nice to feel encouraged to do so. Scoring also depends heavily on collecting gold coins that certain enemies drop in abundance. Personally, I'd rather concentrate on the shooting than the points, but I guess maybe some people will appreciate these beancounter features.
There are also two difficulty levels now: Easy and Hard. Hard is the default, and I think Easy doesn't let you play the fifth of the four missions, but I really need to stop playing Hard, because starting with mission 3, it just really starts to piss me off.
Mission 3 is where you run across new grey alien foes who like to spin rapidly until they resemble big blurry sawblades, and then zip across the screen, killing you if they touch you. They take a fair number of shots to kill, and will usually get you before you get them if you try shooting them, which is the usual Slug reaction against fast targets. They are extremely annoying, especially later when they come along in red versions that take a ridiculous number of shots to kill, and are even impervious to certain shots when spinning.
Taking advantage of the new base hardware, the game starts throwing more and more of these and other very durable aliens at you, until the whole screen is a pulsing mass of alien flesh, and you are pumping credits left and right. I haven't even mentioned the bosses, some of whom have really ridiculous, nearly impossible to dodge patterns. Slug bosses have always involved a certain amount of credit feeding, but at least you felt like you had some reasonable kind of chance to live for a few seconds. Gah.
So yeah, I need to go play on Easy more, I think that'll help my blood pressure. It's hard to tell how pleased I am with the game's overall design when I'm so frustrated with it. To guess, though, I'd say that I don't find the stages and enemies all that inspiring. Metal Slug 3 (see entry 170) still stands for me as the creative peak of the series. 6 has some decent ideas here and there, but there really aren't many moments where you see something, aside from the beefier weapons, that just makes you think "that was damn cool." It just doesn't have a genius amount of inspiration, and that's very visible during the little game-sprite cutscenes that take place here and there between levels, where they just kind of jumble new and old characters together for some very clunky scenes that you wish would end so you could get back to shooting things.
Two spots stick out for me as just plain painful. One is the mission...I think 3...maybe 4...boss, a bit robot striding along from left to right, pushing the screen and anything else that comes along with him. They give you an armored Slug suit to fight him with, but the darn thing is so slow that you can't get space from him, turn, and fire, before he's on top of you, and then he just whops you with his free-swinging electrical arm, and you're dead (this Slug doesn't actually protect the driver). So I did better just jumping free and then back to hit him with at least a few grenades before he'd nail me with his constant rain of big blue electrical balls, unless maybe a big crate came along and knocked me off my routine, or unless he does the thing where he electrifies the ground of the entire screen for about five seconds. Grr I hate that boss.
The other is in the final mission, five. The Slug series has a history of cool little vehicle stages where you're in a jet or a sub or spaceship or something for a while. 6's innovation is a drilling vehicle, and you drill down through dirt in a way that reminded me a lot of Mr. Driller (see entry 388). Here, though, you can shoot, and drop explosive charges, both out the back of your vehicle. Meanwhile, crawling robots swarm after you through the dirt, and these glowing pod things shoot flame blasts at you if you get close. Your vehicle is slow, clunky in the dirt, and can only shoot backwards. Backwards! Gah! It's just such a pain in the ass and no fun at all, I really don't know what they were thinking. You can't dodge at all, so you're left trying to maneuver your guns in reverse all the time. The guns suck, besides. Oh man. Bad stage.
There's a training camp type of mode where you play "missions" which seem to be the normal stages. You can make a named profile and it tracks your scores and times for the missions. Apparently you have special objectives to fulfill when playing through the stages, although it's in Japanese so who knows.
I'm not particularly good at these games (I tend to stubbornly barge ahead instead of playing defensively), but anyway it took me about twice as many credits to clear this one as it has Slugs of the past--not because it's any longer (actually it might be a little shorter than average) (you can clear it in an hour or so), but because it was way harder, at least for me. Personally, I think it overdoes it, and gets more frustrating than fun. Yeah, I suppose that gives me more room for improvement as I replay it over and over, but still, ech. And really, am I going to replay it over and over when I don't find it all that inspiring? I'd rather keep playing some of the earlier ones.
Oh, I actually kind of like the music in this game. It doesn't have the old warlike Slug style of the previous games in the series so much, but more of a techno type beat going on, and that's just kind of a personal preference of mine, so lucky me.