Neo Geo’s Metal Slug franchise had always been a classic arcade favorite for those who like sidescrolling shoot-em-ups, and new games keep coming up even to this day. But while it also means that there would be spin-offs that some people may not be that hot for, especially if they’re released on mobile devices, this particular one actually cuts the mustard well enough.
Metal Slug Defense is a free-to-play tower defense game of sorts by SNK Playmore, who has seemed to come up with another application for their long-beloved franchise. There are been many other F2P tower defense games released before, most of them being rather dull unless you’re in some long road trip and there really is nothing else to do other than stare at the back of the heads and shoulders of the driver and whoever is riding shotgun. But with this game though, it’s a bit more interesting than usual.
One of the first things you’ll notice from this game is that it does look a lot like the Metal Slug of old, from the way the backgrounds look to the character sprites themselves. The old crew is back, namely Marco, Tarma, Eri, and Fio, which brings back a lot of memories for those who enjoyed the old games during the 90′s and early aughts. At the very least, they do look a lot like the sprites in Metal Slug 7 for the consoles and Nintendo DS.
It plays quite like most mobile tower defense games as expected, but it does have the one thing that is definitely called for in this case, which is unit and building variety. Aside from your troops and structures, you also have the ability to upgrade them, and there are a lot of them to go through. As you go up in waves, you’ll want to upgrade your base, which then speeds up the deployment of your infantry and the Metal Slugs that the game is famous for.
Unfortunately, you do start hitting the road block that is common with mobile games of this nature, which is the empty energy bar, or Sortie Points in this case. You’ll have to wait for a long period of time in order to have them replenish. This isn’t bad if it’s something like a puzzle game or such, but this is a tower defense game that actually plays quite well, so you’ll be tempted to get more Sortie Points through the microtransaction options, which may be needed if you want to progress through the game while your hair hasn’t turned white yet. The only other option aside from this is to replay the same maps over and over again.
But for what you’re getting for free, SNK Playmore actually did alright with this title. Perhaps the pay-to-win microtransactions may get on your nerves, but there aren’t a lot of things that you can’t get from just grinding it out. If you don’t have a credit card with a good bit of disposable income behind it, then perhaps you can go on to please yourself with it and get what you want. Otherwise, this game doesn’t lock out content that will compel you to empty your pockets for.
As more Japanese publishers and developers get their feet wetter with this whole mobile thing, which seems to have become some sort of Pandora’s Box for those guys over the past few years, maybe we’ll see some new and interesting ideas amidst all the speculation of them being “out of touch”, as they once did when gaming was really young and no one else knew what they were doing. Maybe this is a sign of things to come, or it’s just them copying what western developers had been cooking up for all the wrong reasons.
Tested in Android. Final Score: 7/10