Metal Slug (1996)

by Christopher
7 minutes read


Metal Slug, released in 1996, is a cornerstone of the run and gun genre, beloved for its challenging gameplay, detailed art, and humorous storytelling. Its influence is seen in countless games that followed, securing its place in gaming history.


Dive into the explosive world of Metal Slug, the iconic run and gun arcade game by Nazca Corporation. A pioneer of the genre, Metal Slug offers unparalleled action, captivating visuals, and co-op gameplay that has captivated gamers since 1996.


“Metal Slug”, a 1996 run and gun arcade video game, was originally developed by Nazca Corporation and released by SNK for the Neo Geo MVS. This game marked the first installment in the eponymous series.

Set in the year 2028, players assume the roles of Peregrine Falcon Strike Force soldiers Marco Rossi and Tarma Roving. Their mission is to fight against the Rebel Army led by Donald Morden and overthrow his coup d’état to prevent a New World Order.

The game was conceived by the same staff who created several titles at Irem that shared similar presentation such as In the Hunt and GunForce II. The core concept during development was a simple but exciting side-scrolling shooter featuring a very easy control scheme and visuals inspired by the works of Hayao Miyazaki.

The gameplay was originally more slow-paced, revolving around players controlling the titular tank instead of soldiers across shorter and less complex missions with a darker atmosphere. However, the project was heavily overhauled after poor response during location test and the length was extended at the request of SNK to make the game attractive to home players while incorporating more platform elements into its design.

“Metal Slug” is reminiscent of Contra where players assume the role of captain Marco Rossi and lieutenant Tarma Roving of the Peregrine Falcon Strike Force. They shoot constantly at a continual stream of enemies in order to complete each mission. At the end of each level, players confront a boss, who is usually considerably larger and tougher than regular enemies.

On the way through each level, players can find numerous weapon upgrades and the eponymous tanks. Known as the SV-001 and SV-002, the tanks increase the player’s offense and add considerably to their defense. In addition to shooting, players can perform melee attacks by using a knife. The player does not die by coming into contact with enemies, and correspondingly, many of the enemy troops have melee attacks.

The game garnered positive reception upon its initial launch from players and critics, being lauded for its sense of humor, fluid hand-drawn animation, and fast-paced two-player action. Its success led to a franchise spawning multiple sequels, remakes, and spin-offs. A direct continuation, Metal Slug 2, was released in 1998.

General Morden, a corrupt and powerful army general, has staged a coup d’etat. Marco Rossi and Tarma Roving, members of an elite army task force, use the Metal Slug tank to crush Morden’s rebellion and restore order. The question remains: Will they beat Morden…or will they fail?2 The answer lies in the hands of the players as they navigate through the intense and exciting world of “Metal Slug”.


Marco Rossi, Tarma Roving, Donald Morden, and various Rebel Army members and creatures.


Metal Slug is renowned for its run and gun gameplay, allowing players to shoot in multiple directions, jump, and use various weapons and vehicles. Its challenging levels, filled with enemies and obstacles, require quick reflexes and strategy.


Metal Slug stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of arcade gaming, blending action, humor, and cooperative play into an unforgettable experience. Its legacy continues to influence the run and gun genre and attract new fans.

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