Exclusive Interview With The Creators Of Metal Slug Tactics: Inspirations And New Details About The Next Game

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When Aurélien Loos, Managing Director of Leikir Studio, first proposed to Dotemu the concept of Metal Slug Tactics, he wasn’t entirely sure they could pull it off. The latest game from Leikir, a Paris-based company, is Rogue Lords, an RPG with monsters like Dracula and Bloody Mary. There is nothing in the studio’s catalog to suggest that it has the ability to recreate the look of one of the most iconic 2D action games ever.

The first thing we had to do was check that we were good enough for Metal Slug, because the series is huge. Pixel art is beautiful“, dice Loos.

It turned out that Leikir was more than capable of recreating this famous Metal Slug pixel art, even without the advantage of being able to use pre-existing assets. When the Metal Slug Tactics trailer was shown during E3 2021, retro fans were immediately enthused by the possibilities the genre change offered, as well as the apparent fidelity to the original material. This was helped by the fact that it was being developed in collaboration with Dotemu, the publisher of Streets of Rage 4 recently acquired by Focus Home Interactive (SNK is not directly involved in development).

In a new interview with MRT, Loos has revealed several new details, commenting that fans can expect an experience similar to that of Into the Breach, the game of 2018, which was one of the first to combine turn-based tactics with the roguelite genre. He also says it will be a tribute to everything Metal Slug related, with a ton of bosses, characters, and concepts straight from the series.

The idea of ​​turning Metal Slug into a strategy game first came up over drinks, says Dotemu CEO Cyrille Imbert. It was the solution to a problem that Imbert had been struggling with for a long time: How could he adapt a retro series that he already considered almost perfect? SNK had invited him to present a game based on one of their properties after being impressed by Dotemu’s work on Wonder Boy and Streets of Rage 4.

The majority [de juegos de SNK] They are fighting games, and the market for fighting games is very tough. Fighting games are very difficult to make and pose a high risk. And on the other hand, there was Metal Slug, but all the Metal Slug for Neo-Geo are very good games, very nice, top-notch pixel art games. […] I think it’s still one of the prettiest pixel art games ever made, alongside Street Fighter 3rd Strike for example“, dice Imbert. “So there was no reason to remake that, it’s already great. What can be done? Making a sequel would have meant contributing something new […] and they were already perfect, so what can you do?

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Dotemu was well aware of the challenges the series posed, having worked with SNK to port various Metal Slug games to Steam.. A hardcore arcade franchise, famous for cluttering the screen with hordes of highly-crafted, perfectly animated enemies. Even in Dotemu’s admittedly clunky arcade emulator, it’s still a sight to behold, especially when one of its massive bosses appears on screen. His impressive artwork has helped the series retain a huge following over the years, even without sequels.

Metal Slug Tactics e Into the Breach

A direct reboot probably would have been effective, but the shift to the strategy genre provided them with a unique opportunity to put their own stamp on the series. And indeed, Metal Slug seems to fit perfectly into the genre made famous by Fire Emblem, Advance Wars and XCOM..

Into the Breach was, of course, a great inspiration“, dice Imbert. “It is on a smaller scale. It is a little faster. It has that arcade feel that goes very well with the Metal Slug license.

Considering Metal Slug’s action roots, Leikir is creating a speed-based turn-based experience, where skills are boosted by constantly moving around the map and completing attack combos, and missions rarely take more than nine turns to complete.. Teams will be made up of three selectable characters who will fight on a series of handcrafted maps, and missions will be randomized. Being a roguelite, it will naturally be structured around a series of tours that will earn the characters experience and money, which they can then use to acquire new weapons and abilities through individual skill trees.

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The characters will be “really different to play“says Loos. In addition to having their own skill tree, they will have their own combo abilities and weapon loads, which in turn will have a huge impact on how each run is approached. It is unclear if this will be possible, for example. , become a zombie; Leikir is choosing which mechanics are right for the game’s more tactical approach..

Into the Breach was, of course, a great inspiration. It is on a smaller scale. It is a little faster. It has that arcade feel that goes very well with the Metal Slug license

As for the tanks and other vehicles that appear in the main saga, some can be discovered on the map, while others can be summoned by individual characters. True to the saga, they will be very powerful. “They are a very, very powerful weapon, obviously, and they can break some rules of the game.“, dice Loos. “But at the same time they can be difficult to use.“.

Its main strength is that it is flexible enough to be applied to a wide variety of playing styles, as demonstrated by Into the Breach. And a system based on dying repeatedly only makes sense for a show like Metal Slug., which is famous for its gruesome yet strangely charming custom of melting, beheading and dismembering its heroes.

The main challenge, says Imbert, is balancing the different types of fans he hopes will be drawn to the game. “What we are trying to do is get the interest of hardcore gamers, as well as some more mid-core gamers, because Metal Slug Tactics will attract people from the run-and-gun and Neo-Geo community, and they are not necessarily well versed in tactical games. . So for them, it shouldn’t be too complicated or a headache. But, on the other hand, there are people who do not know Metal Slug and who will come for the tactical aspect, so they must also be satisfied. So the difficulty should not be too easy, otherwise they will get bored very quickly. So it’s a difficult balance, but I think with different difficulty settings … we’ll have it for sure“.

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Dotemu and Leikir also plan to delve into the history of Metal Slug., which is supposedly quite dense. Choosing different characters will unlock different branches of the story, Loos says, and develop familiar characters like Marco and Eri.

It was one of the really important things to us “, dice Loos. “One thing that is very cool about [género táctico] is that we have much more space to tell stories, and Metal Slug has a huge background universe with a really interesting story. Each character has a lot of stories about their past. But most fans don’t know this story because they don’t have the space to talk about it in the run and shoot series.

A lovely revival of a SNK classic

It all translates into a delightful revival for the series, which hasn’t seen a major new installment launch in over a decade. Metal Slug Tactics may not be a true sequel, but it looks like it will retain much of the personality. (and the violence) that made the original arcade games so compelling.

The biggest unknown right now is knowing when it will be available on consoles. Although it seems like a natural fit on the Nintendo Switch (most of Dotemu’s games are available on the platform), Metal Slug Tactics has only been announced for PC. In that sense, Imbert only says that a console launch would be “Super amazing“, and what Dotemu needs”which would make sense for the game.

Metal Slug Tactics release date is also anyone’s guess. “It’s a little too early to tell“, dice Imbert. “I always try to protect the studios from that because then we are trapped. So yeah, it’s a little early to say, but it’s going well. So the wait shouldn’t be too long“.

Metal Slug fans, at least, are more than used to waiting. The Dotemu spin off may not be what they expected, but at least it seems to be true to the spirit of the original games. And at this point, that’s all Metal Slug fans can ask for.

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