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Metal Slug Anthology was better and harder than I remembered it. What started as a sentimental revisiting of my youth ended up complementing my efforts to find a more adult life.
Revisiting old games can slowly eradicate fond memories of times spent with digital entertainment. Metal Slug Anthology, however, reveals that my recollections are more than rose-tinted sentimentality.
Nostalgia is a dangerous emotion. If you look too hard at the past you discover regrets and a long lost carefree youth. For me, holidays by the North East coast and building tree houses fuelled by bright blue blackberry Slush Puppys.
But nostalgia is also profitable business, particularly with the re-release of old games. With this in mind, I've been playing a game which first came out in 1996 and that has held me enraptured ever since. Metal Slug Anthology is a collection of the first seven Metal Slug games slimmed down and crisped up for the PSP. It remains as wonderful and essential as I first remember all those summers ago, and for this reason alone I love it beyond all reasonable levels of material affection.
I found Metal Slug in a seaside promenade arcade one summer, nestled discreetly between much flashier (and faddier) cabinets. A deep seeded sugar-hum clouded my better judgement and I slotted coin after coin into the tobacco scarred machine; the vivid sprites intoxicated my eyes and the sumptuous gameplay was syrupy nectar for an easily swayed pre-teen.
Trying to discuss the merits of old games without the vulgar constraints of nostalgia is not always easy.
It wasn't until I stumbled across the game again in my halls of residence common room that I rediscovered my passion for the title. Here though I was focused more on competition. Drinking games were developed, and a how-far-could-you-get-on-a-quid tournament was the event of the year.
Trying to discuss the merits of old games without becoming bogged down within the vulgar constraints of nostalgia is not always easy. Metal Slug, however has remained as vibrant as I remember and could easily pass for a modern day downloadable title despite being fifteen years old.
I bought this PSP anthology a while ago on a whim and half-imagined it would ruin my recollection of this glorious title. Nostalgia is a fragile thing, and pleasant memories which have blossomed over time can be decimated in a matter of seconds. In a similar fashion to never meeting your idols; absorbing yourself in your youth can often lead to disappointment.
I was surprised to find that Metal Slug Anthology didn't feel like a trip down memory lane inasmuch as it felt like a continuation of a story. Despite all my time with Metal Slug, I was never really that good at it and I was amazed to reveal that I had never actually progressed past the forth level boss.
For all my happy memories around the game, it turns out I had hardly scratched the surface. My nostalgia seemed to have invented much more gameplay and progression than had actually been the case.
This is a worry. You see I've always imagined myself as having a fairly horrendous mid-life crisis (I'm a fretful bag of nerves now for crying out loud); stupid haircut, leather jacket and a red sports car with Skunk Anansie or Placebo blaring out the stereo.
Metal Slug Anthology has become the cutting edge of my battle to grow up.
Due to this terrifying vision of the future, I have formulated a plan. I'm attempting to convince myself that everything I have previously accomplished or witnessed pales in comparison to that which I am accomplishing in the present.
Metal Slug Anthology has become the cutting edge of my battle to grow up. I'm facing the imagined victories of my younger years and progressing in real terms with it now. It challenges and frustrates me, and due to its portability and lack of narrative I can slot it quite nicely into gaps of free time I have scattered throughout my day.
Metal Slug is a great franchise, unlike other nostalgic endeavours, however, it is still relevant and quintessential to my gaming life. Its hand drawn graphics and finely tuned controls make it as much of a challenge now as it was back then. If you've yet to discover it then I'd recommend you do so.
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