Updated: Metal Slug 3 Review

Last week, DotEmu released an update for Metal Slug 3 that makes the game much easier to play on your iPhone or iPad. The two new options are a windowed video mode, which puts touchscreen controls out of the way of the action, and an auto-fire mode, which will spare your wrist the agony of mashing on the fire button repeatedly.

Both additions are very player-friendly and will probably result in beginners getting further in the game than they would otherwise. The auto-fire turns your basic pistol into a very effective automatic, and it only activates when you hit the fire button, so you’re not constantly wasting special ammo. Hopefully we’ll see similar player-friendly, platform-conscious options in the upcoming release of Raiden Legacy as well.

Metal Slug 3 is the first iOS game that can actually put an end to the debate over touchscreen controls versus physical joysticks. Not only was Metal Slug 3 designed to stand out in noisy arcades, with its frantic pace, wild variety, and punishing difficulty, but it was also designed especially for a joystick and buttons. Whether you use the onscreen controls, or a sturdy accessory like the iCade or iCade Mobile, Metal Slug 3 is nonstop fun.

The reason Metal Slug 3 effectively ends the debate over mobile game controls is that it demands split-second reactions and precise movement and shooting controls. No offense to Pac-Man for iPad, or Atari’s Greatest Hits, but Metal Slug 3 is the first iOS game we’ve played that benefits this much from an iCade accessory. Metal Slug 3 was built for arcade joysticks, and when you connect this game to an iCade, the home experience is nearly flawless.

Recreating the river voyage from Apocalypse Now.

If you don’t have an iCade, Metal Slug 3 is still a Must Have game. It’s a gorgeous, lighthearted shooter with a delirious sense of humor. Your character is constantly threatened by enemy soldiers, giant crabs, submarines, space aliens, zombies, mummies, man-eating plants, killer robots, and many more remarkable and unique enemies. The only way to survive to the very end of the game is to replay each mission, find as many secrets as possible, and train your brain and fingers to anticipate each ambush.

Every level has multiple, branching pathways that greatly enhance the replay value. In the first few minutes of the game, you can choose to go diving underwater past giant eels named Barbie and Jenny, or you can take the high road and sail a fishing boat over a river of piranhas. Later in the game, you’ll find an optional path that lets you thaw a frozen war elephant, and another that lets you explore a cursed tomb.

I’ll take the low road.

In addition to the gorgeous art, animation, and scenery, Metal Slug 3 offers a series of pitched battles. Your supply of grenades is limited, and your default pistol doesn’t do much damage, so you’ll have to constantly seek out POWs to rescue. They’ll give you heavy machine guns, flamethrowers, rocket launchers, and other satisfying weapons of mass destruction. They’ll also drop powerups like food, which if you eat too much of, will turn you into a waddling fatty whose bullets are oversized, too.

Metal Slug 3 is also an incredibly challenging game. Unlike several of Cave’s shooters, like Espgaluda and Dodonpachi, you’re not given unlimited continues in Metal Slug 3. Even on the easy difficulty level, you’re limited to five continues with three lives each. While this means certain parts of the game may be permanently beyond some players’ reach, we found that getting a little bit further on each replay was a huge incentive to keep us playing. Forget Temple Run: Now Metal Slug 3 is the ultimate high-score game for iOS.

Smells like someone’s having a… zombieque. Yeeeaaaaah!

Metal Slug 3 is bursting with creativity and action, but it has a few slight issues. Our iCade connection would give out if we used the touchscreen to pause the game, and we would have to reconnect by switching apps. Fortunately, Metal Slug 3 allows you to switch out briefly and come right back where you left off. Also, the game requires nonstop mashing of the fire button, and an auto-fire setting that you could trigger on and off might have been a nice crutch for beginners.

If you already own an iCade or iCade Mobile, download Metal Slug 3 today without any reservations. It’s finally the first game that will make buying that accessory truly worthwhile– a killer app, if you will. Even if you don’t own an iCade, Metal Slug 3 is so good that it will make you consider buying one. SNK Playmore and Ion Audio have created the perfect gaming combination– a beautiful, deep, highly replayable action game, with optional physical controls that will instantly transport you back to the arcades.

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