July 19, 2024

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Metal Slug Attack Reloaded review (Switch eShop)

Metal Slug Attack Reloaded review (Switch eShop)
Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/untethered)

Once again, the world is on the verge of being taken over by the evil General Donald Morden and his rebel army. Only the Peregrine Falcon Squad, led by hero Marco Rossi, stands in the way of the rebels establishing their new world order. This could be the plot of any Metal Slug series, which is at its best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Metal Slug Attack Reloaded, a remake of the gacha tower defense mobile game filled with microtransactions, does its best to maintain the series’ silly tone while removing the worst parts of the 2016 release.

At the very least, it does its best to remove the frustrating parts. Fortunately, the Switch version doesn’t have any microtransactions – but it still feels like a gacha game that expects you to log in every day and fight your way to victory. The result is a game that is asymmetrical but still fun and true to its origins.

Metal Slug Attack Reloaded review - Screenshot 2 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/untethered)

Like most of the series it spawns, Metal Slug Attack Reloaded’s story is thin at the best of times. Marco Rossi and his Peregrine Falcon Squad are on a mission to stop a rebel army from taking over the world. It’s unclear whether this is meant to be done through expert strategy or brute force, as the gameplay that follows each short scene is an exercise in sending wave after wave of units towards the enemy so you can destroy their base. It’s the kind of simple, mindless fun that works well as a mobile game but feels flat when ported to console. Even the addition of a “sequel” story, cleverly titled “Another Story,” doesn’t change the fact that there’s not really enough plot to see you through the dozen or so hours it might take to complete.

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In each battle, you buy units with AP (action points) and send them across the battlefield, where they will destroy the enemy base or die trying. More powerful units cost more AP, but you can upgrade your base to allow you to replenish AP more quickly, allowing you to purchase stronger units faster. This breaks down the basic flow of the game when you activate a unit or special move for your base, but you’ll spend a lot more time purchasing units to send them on a slow death march to the right side of the arena.

The little strategy that comes into the game is actually which unit you choose to move to each level. Choosing a unit that can attack flying enemies is usually not necessary until the game presents you with a stage that features almost exclusively flying enemies. Each unit can be leveled up, evolved into a more powerful form, and equipped with equipment to boost its stats. This is ostensibly done in the name of customizing your party to suit your playstyle, but is actually a holdover from Metal Slug Attack Reloaded’s origins as a gacha game.

Metal Slug Attack Reloaded Review - Screenshot 3 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/untethered)

Every time you complete a mission, you will earn medals and tickets. Tickets are used to upgrade your units or basic stats, giving you an advantage in the next mission. Medals fuel the game’s gacha mechanics and allow you to draw for a small number of units, allowing you to unlock one of the game’s over 300 characters from across the Metal Slug series to fight in battles for you. Metal Slug Attack Reloaded is much less predatory than most mobile gacha games tend to be, but this also highlights how shallow and unfair the system is.

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This system is the reason behind one of Metal Slug Attack Reloaded’s biggest problems – the brutal and often unfair difficulty spikes that appear throughout the campaign. Sometimes, you’ll encounter a level that suddenly becomes more difficult than the previous one. No amount of strategy will help you with how to deploy your units. More often than not, it’s a case of swapping out the units in your party with different units that are better suited to the enemy at hand. However, it would mean trying to obtain a better, more powerful unit, a long and sometimes frustrating process that was originally intended to encourage players to raise money to secure a rarer or better unit. However, without microtransactions, it feels unnecessarily harsh to the point of almost being game-breaking.

Metal Slug Attack Reloaded review - screenshot 4 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (anchored)

Fans of the Metal Slug series will enjoy seeing some of the more intelligent armies and units represented in the game. There are the usual rebel and regular army characters, but you’ll quickly encounter Martian aliens, dog mummies, and samurai robots along the way. It somewhat breaks up the game’s already flimsy plot of assembling an army consisting of all these factions, but you’ll barely notice when you summon a giant slug to engulf your enemies. The only downside is that the roster is only a small fraction of the hundreds of units in the original game.

If the story mode isn’t enough for you, there’s the option to play against local players or online with your chosen party, but be careful – just like any other gacha game, there will be people working long hours who will wipe the floor with you and your team. That’s the nature of the game, but fortunately, online battles can be avoided entirely if you prefer to play casually.

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When Metal Slug Attack’s servers shut down in 2023, fans may have thought their favorite tower defense gacha game was gone forever. Unfortunately, they were half right. Right now, we’re not convinced that the hours of hard work required to develop the plot are really worth it.

Conclusion

Metal Slug Attack Reloaded strips away some of the worst parts of the original mobile game’s mechanics, but the mini-menu and extreme difficulty spikes highlight the excessive grinding needed to make these types of games profitable and will likely fail to satisfy any but the most die-hard fans of the original. For better or worse, this looks exactly like the mobile game ported to the Switch, warts and all.