Review: 'Metal Slug Anthology' Great Way to Go Retro on Wii

"Metal Slug Anthology" successfully revives the side-scrolling video game genre for the Wii generation — though it will likely cause a few hand blisters in the process.

This recent collection of seven classic "Metal Slug" games has been tweaked for the Wii's wireless, motion-sensitive remote controller with six different ways to guide the frantic on-screen action.

If you've never heard of or played any "Metal Slug" games before, here's a bit of a history lesson: The series was released by SNK Playmore, a Japanese company, back in the 1990s as an arcade game.

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It quickly became a cult hit with its mix of futuristic warfare, humor, insane difficulty and — back in the day, anyway — excellent, smoothly animated graphics.

The blocky, two-dimensional cartoonish visuals certainly look rather dated now, but this T-rated collection represents gaming at its most pure and demanding.

And it's a relative bargain at $39.99, considering how many quarters were lost playing the original.

This anthology doesn't have every "Metal Slug" game ever made, but includes the key original "Metal Slug" through "Metal Slug 6." For those counting, "Metal Slug X" is in the mix too.

There's a bit of a plot involving recurring gun-toting protagonist Marco Rossi and his battles with the nefarious General Morden, but you'll hardly have time to notice the story because the games are so fast-paced.

My fingers were killing me from all the button mashing, but I couldn't help but grin as I plowed through endless waves of grenade-tossing soldiers and an array of giant boss enemies, rescuing hostages who dispense handy power-ups along the way.

The Wii version takes a decent stab at taking advantage of the system's motion-sensitive controller, but the results didn't always work out too well.

In one of the control schemes, you use the Nunchuk attachment to move your character around, and throw grenades by "flicking" the Wii's remote. Another style lets you control the entire game with just the Nunchuk.

Call me a traditionalist, but the only method I was comfortable with was the plain old "Wii Remote" style, where regular old button pressing did the trick.

This game is coming out for other platforms as well, but these oddball control schemes — though gimmicky to me — do make the Wii version a unique standout.

Beyond the controls, "Metal Slug Anthology" is a great collection of one of the most action-packed video games ever made.

Three stars out of four.