Metal Slug Advance Hands-On Impressions - E3 2004

We take the upcoming GBA version of SNK's hard-hitting side-scroller for a spin at E3 2004.

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Tucked away in a corner of SNK NeoGeo USA's E3 booth was a kiosk with Metal Slug Advance, an all-new Metal Slug game for Nintendo's handheld console. Metal Slug Advance stars two all-new characters, a young male soldier named Walter and a young female soldier named Tyra. Unfortunately the series' mainstay characters of Marco, Tarma, Eri, and Fio did not appear to be playable in the game. The original Metal Slug series' control scheme was never terribly complicated, so it seems to have translated well to the Game Boy Advance's two-button setup. The A button lets your character jump, while the B button fires. Metal Slug Advance's control and pacing seem practically identical to those of the original NeoGeo games. As a result, when jumping, your character floats in the air briefly and may turn to one side or another while in midair. Unless you have a weapon that homes in on your opponents, like the enemy chaser missile launcher, you can fire only in the direction you face by pressing on the control pad.

We played through an early level of the game and picked up familiar weapons, like the shotgun, the enemy chaser, the heavy machine gun, and the dual Uzis that were first introduced in Metal Slug 4 on the NeoGeo. We noticed in our time with the game that several of the game's enemies--including the bane of every Metal Slug soldier's existence: the bumbling, helmet-wearing grunts that serve General Morden--have been brought over to the GBA intact. Many use the same attacks they've been using since Metal Slug 2, such as hand-throwing rockets and alternately delivering potshots with a rifle and cowering behind cover to reload. The formerly half-naked hostages of the NeoGeo Metal Slug series have been replaced with fully clothed prisoners of war that wear easy-to-recognize blue shirts and pants. However, hostages must still be rescued by being shot, and you must still run past them to rescue and receive any beneficial items they may drop.

Like in the previous Metal Slug games, you begin with only a single-shot pistol and a handful of grenades, though you can grab upgrades for both. Additionally, you'll automatically deliver a slashing attack with your bayonet to any soldier that gets too close to you. Unfortunately, since we were playing a rather early version of the game, its frame rate had some very noticeable issues. However, we were assured that the SNK team is very much aware of these issues and will remedy them in time for the game's ship date later this year.

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