|With its long stages, huge bosses, multitude of weapons and impressive sprite-rotating graphics, it's hard to believe that this run'n'gun actually preceded Metal Slug. You have four or five weapons, which you can access at all times, and as you power up your battery by collecting crystals dropped by slain foes all your weapons become more powerful, though this energy drains away over time (except during boss fights, thankfully).|
The stream of little enemies to blow up comes nearly nonstop until, of course, you hit a boss fight. The large bosses incorporate a lot of sprite scaling and rotating effects and look pretty impressive but the ability to sit out of harm's way in the corner makes the early bosses a joke. Later ones get quite a bit more difficult; frustrating, even.
Instead of the usual arcade-style "die in one hit" type of thing, you have a generous health meter though once this runs out you have to restart the stage from the beginning if you choose to continue. Thus each stage becomes a sort of battle of attrition as you watch your health meter get lower and lower--I think I prefer multiple lives and dying in one hit, really.
The weapons, while looking impressive, don't really give you incentive to make use of each one for certain purposes. I only found a use for two, really: the auto-tracking beam missles for general-purpose killing without having to aim and the flamethrower for close-range work against the bosses. The others, beam weapon variants without especial distinction, go to waste. Still, those two useful guns provide plenty of fun.
Probably a lot of fun with two players, too. And at least one later stage (the last one I've played up through) throws a little jet-roller-skating action in to the normal run'n'gun mix. While the gameplay doesn't feel quite as tightly tuned as Metal Slug (oh, and the jump is kinda floaty) and the art style isn't as distinctive, there's still plenty here to like.