Metal Slug Advance
[NOTE: This is dangerously outdated, and I've changed my opinion slightly about it. Pretty much everything I rant about here is still valid, but once you have all the cards, the game is a lot more tolerable and plays a little like a regular Metal Slug game; but having to fully complete it before it gets fun is pretty stupid.]
Everyone seems to love the socks off Metal Slug Advance. It's okay, but that's really about the most praise I'd give it. Anyone who hangs about the Metal Slug Database forums should know that I rant about Metal Slug Advance all the time, and I really wish I could enjoy the game, but honestly, I just can't. It's got too many flaws for me to love. Sort of like meeting a hot chick who wants to get inside you and MESS UP YOUR INNARDS, then shredding apart the remainders of your corpse. Unless you find that erotic. To one their own.
I think my main reason for disliking Metal Slug Advance so much is because there was so much hype. Everyone was going "it's like the arcade games and the NeoGeo Pocket games had a big orgy resulting in awesome!!", and thus I thought "the nonlinearity of the NeoGeo Pocket games combined with the fast-paced action of the arcade games? AWESOME INDEED", and while it featured a teeny tiny bit of exploration, it didn't feature the best feature of 2nd Mission: The multiple mission paths. Instead it was just 5 missions, and one hidden mission. Compared to 2nd Mission's whopping 38 missions, each with many secrets, interesting themes, and ways of playing (such as using jetpacks, rafts, submarines, and so on), it's a bit of a gyp, but I probably wouldn't have been as disappointed if I just bought the game without knowing anything else about it.
So here's a list of all the faults that Metal Slug Advance has, because I'm a dick.
The camera doesn't like to show you much of anywhere other than in front of you. This could've been resolved if they actually bothered to scale down the sprites so the screen wasn't so cramped, but no. It's even worse when in the Metal Slug, as you can't truly turn around, so even if you're moving backwards, the camera won't turn around so you can see where you're going, it'll still be in front of you. Metal Slug: 2nd Mission had small sprites and a small screen, but had
more than enough space for you to see what was going on around you.
The weapons are practically useless. They start off with an obnoxiously low amount of ammunition, and you need cards to get more, but it doesn't help that even with the Weapon + cards, they're still very weak. That results in being left to your pistol for pretty much the entire game, and unlike the other games where it could be used well enough on it's own, thanks to it's speedy firing rate, MSA's pistol is crappy, slow, and clunky. Your grenades aren't even that powerful as well, and your most powerful weapon is the Metal Slug's cannon, and it's extremely limited as well. This problem isn't as severe in Metal Slug: 2nd Mission, where ammunition is plentiful, and all your weapons are balanced; although the pistol is slow and crappy.
Weapons like the Drop Shot and Iron Lizard are extremely plentiful in areas where they're utterly useless. Metal Slug:
2nd Mission's weapons are useful for any situation, so this problem isn't there.
The damage ratio is incredibly uneven. No attack takes less than a fifth or quarter of your health off, and most attacks from tanks take more than half off your energy. That's terrible, but it's horrific thanks to your bouncy recoil (that can result in bouncing off vehicles and into pits) and almost nonexistent invincibility time. 2nd Mission is very generous in damage, with most attacks only removing one or two units of health (out of a total of five), with minimal recoil, and plenty of invincibility time.
Too many friggin' pits. Not enough to rival Sonic Advance 2 in number of pits, but still enough to piss you off. 2nd Mission has pits, but there usually aren't any enemies waiting to knock you into them, and if they are, usually they knock you away from the pit.
The enemies are friggin' ruthless. The producers must've thought that since you have a health bar, there'd be no harm done in making the enemies attack quicker, with more power and accuracy than before. As a result, soldiers can throw an infinite number of grenades at you from behind a crate, essentially creating a barrier that you'll have no chance
of penetrating without wasting a semi-valuable grenade. They'll also fire their bazookas every second, and leap at you with knives at every encounter. Where's the realism of the arcade games, where they were intent on killing you, but also feared for their lives and fled when you came after them? Metal Slug: 2nd Mission's enemies are the opposite: They're too gentle. They rarely chase after you, and when they do, they do it incredibly slowly. They usually break into tears after they attempt to kill you, which is a pretty sad sight. There are the occasional times they can be a slight challenge, but most of the time they're little sissy sheep. I suppose it makes you feel better about yourself, seeing grown men weep before you.
The Enemy Chaser fails to chase enemies. 2nd Mission hasn't got an Enemy Chaser, although the closest it's got is the
Rocket Launcher when your character is fat, and despite the fact it doesn't turn around to follow enemies, it at least homes in on them instead of flying around and crashing into the ground.
No new vehicles! The Black Hound is just an incredibly minor edit of the Metal Slug, and it doesn't even feature it's trademark laser gun. 2nd Mission has the raft, jetpack, mine cart, Sub Slug (before it was more popularly introduced in MS3 as the Slug Mariner), along with the good ol' Metal Slug and Slug Flyer.
No new weapons! MSA doesn't even try to introduce new weapons. At least MS5 tinkered with the Dual Machine Guns. 2nd Mission has the Missile Pod, Grenade Gun, Fire Gun, Bazooka, along with the usual pistol, Heavy Machine Gun, Shot Gun, and Rocket Launcher.
One new feature! The card collecting is new, but the prisoner list, hidden paths, exploration, and all that jazz are from 1st and 2nd Mission. They didn't even use the awesomer subjects like each character having a unique set of weapons and paths, the varying missions depending on how you do, and so on.
Crappy animation. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There are games like Sonic Advance and CT Special Forces for the Game Boy Advance, with incredibly smooth animation, lots of sprites on screen at once, and no slowdown. It's just a terrible sight seeing a game that once had beautiful animation, tattered up into this, when there are games on the same console with animation like this. It doesn't help any that the camera is jerky and as smooth as the animation.
You can't feel proud of yourself when you kill an enemy. In the arcade and NeoGeo Pocket games, you could pump several bullets into one enemy, shred them with your knife, blow them to smithereens, and so on. In MSA, they just fall down. Even when you shoot them with the Flame Shot, they fall down. Shot Gun? They don't fly away hilariously, they
just fall down. Slicing them with a knife still causes them to simply FALL DOWN. The only way they can actually look like they're in pain is if you shoot one of the soldiers in the rubber ring. They reel back in pain as their rubber ring bursts, and they drown. But they couldn't even let you enjoy that, what with there being a total of three or four of those guys in the whole game, and their death animation plays so quickly it's like they just disappear.
The bosses were fairly generic. The first was a toned down version of MS5's first boss, the second had little in the way of attacking, the third was MS1's third boss with some redesigning, the fourth was MS2's first boss, and the final boss was a floating core with abnormally cheap tactics. Really dull by Metal Slug standards. 2nd Mission's first boss was a giant cannon mounted on a similarly giant truck, another was a huge submarine that fired torpedoes at you, one of them was a muscled guy in a cowboy hat with two pistols, and then donned a suit that shot lasers in eight directions. The last boss was a spinning spiked top that shot homing missiles and tried to ram into you, and once you destroyed it, the enemy leader, some guy who looked like Emperor Hirohito came out and started shooting at you with a rifle. That's awesome.
They didn't even finish the game! The manual and promotional material reference to additional dungeons, an underwater level with the Slug Mariner, and other such things. Guess where they are in the game.
And since this doesn't seem to be winding down or anything, we end with a joke.