Metal Slug Attack Reloaded Review (Switch eShop)

Captured (docked) on Nintendo Switch

Once again, the world is on the verge of being taken over by the evil General Donald Morton and his rebel army. Only the Peregrine Falcon Force, led by the heroic Marco Rossi, stands in the way of the Rebels’ establishment of a New World Order. It could be the plot of any entry in the Metal Slug series, and it’s at its best when you don’t take it too seriously. Metal Slug Attack Reloaded, a remake of the microtransaction-laden crude tower-defense mobile game, does its best to maintain the goofy tone of the series while removing the worst bits of the 2016 version.

At least it does its best to take out the annoying bits. The Switch version doesn’t have any microtransactions, thankfully – but it feels very much like a raw game that expects you to log in every day and grind your way to victory. The result is a random but still interesting game constrained by its appearance.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Like most of the series that spawned it, the story of Metal Slug Attack Reloaded is paper thin at the best of times. Marco Rossi and the Peregrine Falcon Squad lead the charge to stop the Rebel Army from taking over the world. It’s unclear whether this is done through expert strategy or brute force, as the gameplay that follows each short cutscene is an exercise in sending wave after wave of enemies until they destroy their base. It’s simple, clever fun that works well as a mobile game, but falters when ported to console. Even adding a cleverly titled ‘sequel’ to another story doesn’t change the fact that there isn’t enough plot to keep you going for a dozen or more hours.

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Each battle sees you purchase units with AP (action points) and send them across the battlefield where they either destroy the enemy base or die trying. More powerful units cost more AP, but you can upgrade your deck to allow faster AP regeneration so you can buy stronger units faster. The basic flow of the game stops when you activate a unit or your base’s special move, but you spend most of your time buying units to send a slow death march to the right side of the arena.

What little strategy comes into the game is actually which unit you choose to move into each level. Choosing a unit that can attack flying enemies isn’t usually necessary unless the game throws you a stage with flying enemies. Each unit can be leveled up, crafted into a more powerful form, and given equipment to increase their stats. This is ostensibly done in the name of customizing your deck to suit your playstyle, but in reality it’s a raw game from the origins of Metal Slug Attack Reloaded.

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Captured (docked) on Nintendo Switch

Every time you complete a mission, you earn medals and tickets. Tickets are used to upgrade your units or base stats, giving you a chance on the next mission. Medals fuel the game’s raw mechanics and allow you to pull certain units, which unlock one of the game’s more than 300 characters in the Metal Slug series to fight battles for you. Metal Slug Attack Reloaded is less loot-heavy than most mobile raw games, but it highlights how superficial and unfair the system is.

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This setting is one of the biggest problems with Metal Slug Attack Reloaded – the brutal and often illogical difficulty spikes that appear throughout the campaign. Occasionally, you will encounter a situation that is suddenly more challenging than the previous one. No strategy helps in how to line up your units. Often, it’s a case of swapping out units in your deck with different units that are better suited to the opponent at hand. However, this can mean trying to drag a better, more powerful unit into the long and sometimes frustrating process of encouraging players to collect money to ensure a rare or better unit in the first place. Without microtransactions, however, it feels unnecessarily harsh to the point of almost breaking the game.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Fans of the Metal Slug series will enjoy seeing some of the wackier armies and units represented in the game. There are the usual rebels and the usual military characters, but you’ll soon run into aliens from Mars, mummy dogs and samurai mechs. It somewhat breaks up the game’s already flimsy plot of putting together an army that includes all these factions, but you won’t notice when you’re summoning a giant slug to overwhelm your enemies. The only downside is that the roster is a fraction of the original game’s hundreds of units.

If the story mode isn’t enough for you, there’s the option to play against local or online players using your chosen deck, though be warned – like any other raw game, there will be people grinding for hours. I will sweep the floor with you and your team. It’s the nature of the game, but, luckily, if you want to play more casually, you can skip online battles altogether.

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When Metal Slug Attack’s servers shut down in 2023, fans may have thought their favorite tower defense raw game was gone forever. Unfortunately, they were only half right. As it stands, we’re not convinced the hours of grinding required to advance the plot are really worth it.

Conclusion

Metal Slug Attack Reloaded removes some of the worst bits of the original mobile game’s mechanics, but the scaled-back roster and brutal difficulty spikes highlight the excessive grinding required to make these types of games profitable. Original fans. For better or worse, it looks like a mobile game ported to the Switch, warts and all.

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