Arcade Metal Slug legacy and its iconic characters - Gamestate

Arcade Metal Slug legacy and its iconic characters

Arcade gaming has been a beloved pastime for decades, and few games have achieved the iconic status of Metal Slug. 

Developed by SNK for the Neo Geo arcade system, Metal Slug is a classic "run and gun" game known for its intense action, challenging gameplay, and memorable characters.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the history of Metal Slug, its enduring appeal, and some of its most iconic characters, including Ralf Jones, Morden and Allen O'Neil, Leona Heidern, and others.

History of Metal Slug

Arcade Metal Slug is a 1996 side-scrolling, run-and-gun game. The game quickly gained popularity for its fast-paced action, cartoonish graphics, and over-the-top explosions. Players control soldiers who must battle through waves of enemies, tanks, and other obstacles to complete each level.

One of the critical factors that helped arcade Metal Slug stand out from other video games was its attention to detail. The game's developers put much effort into creating a world that felt alive and immersive. Each level has unique enemies, weapons, and vehicles, and the game's sound effects and music added to the overall experience.

Over the years, Metal Slug has become a franchise with multiple sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations. However, the original game remains a fan favorite and a classic of the arcade era.

Neo Geo

The developers created Metal Slug for the Neo Geo arcade system, known for its high-quality graphics and sound. The Neo Geo allowed for detailed, colorful graphics and smooth animation, which helped to bring the characters and world of Metal Slug to life.

The Neo Geo was also known for its large and expensive cartridges, which meant that Metal Slug had to be carefully optimized to fit within the system's technical limitations. 

Despite these challenges, the developers at SNK created a game that looked and played great on Neo Geo.

Players Controlling

Players can enjoy Metal Slug as a single-player or a two-player co-op game.

In the co-op mode, one player controls Marco, and the other handles Tarma. This allows players to work together to overcome the game's challenges and adds a new layer of strategy and teamwork to the experience.

The co-op mode also allows players to revive each other if one dies, which can be a lifesaver in some of the game's more challenging levels. Overall, the co-op mode in Metal Slug is a great way to experience the game with a friend and adds a new dimension of fun to the game.

Metal Slug Characters

One of the things that set Metal Slug apart from other arcade games was its colorful cast of characters. Here are some of the most iconic Metal Slug characters and their roles in the game.

Ralf Jones

Ralf Jones is one of the original playable characters in Metal Slug. He's a tough-as-nails soldier who fights with his fists, feet, and weapons.


Ralf's signature move is a devastating uppercut that can knock out enemies in one hit. He's also known for his machine gun spray attack, which can mow down groups of enemies in a flash.

Ralf's personality is that of a typical action hero – he's brave, confident, and always ready for a fight. However, he's also a loyal friend and a good team player, often putting his safety on the line to help his fellow soldiers. His strength, skill, and loyalty make him a fan favorite among Metal Slug players.

Leona Heidern

Leona Heidern is a playable character first introduced in Metal Slug 2. She's a skilled fighter who uses a variety of martial arts moves to take down her enemies. 

Leona's backstory is one of the most interesting in the game – she's the daughter of a high-ranking officer in the criminal Orochi clan. The Orochi clan is a recurring criminal organization in the King of Fighters series, another classic fighting game franchise developed by SNK.

Leona's tragic backstory adds depth to her character and makes her more relatable than some of the other Metal Slug characters. She's a conflicted hero torn between her soldier duty and her loyalty to her family.

Her unique playstyle, which combines fast strikes with acrobatic moves, makes her a popular choice among Metal Slug players.

Rebel Army

The Rebel Army is the primary antagonist faction in the Metal Slug series. They are a group of rebels who seek to overthrow the government and establish a new world order. 

Soldiers, tanks, helicopters, and other vehicles comprise the Rebel Army, a formidable force to be reckoned with.

One of the most memorable aspects of the Rebel Army is its wide variety of soldiers. From standard infantry soldiers to suicide bombers, each Rebel Army soldier has unique attack patterns and behaviors. This makes each encounter with the Rebel Army a new challenge and forces players to adapt and adjust their strategies constantly.

Donald Morden

As the main antagonist of the Metal Slug series, Donald Morden is a recurring villain who is always scheming to take over the world. Morden is a charismatic leader who commands the Rebel Army with an iron fist. 

His ultimate goal is to create a new world order in which he is the supreme ruler. Morden is a classic villain who is both cunning and ruthless, and his presence adds an element of danger and tension to the game.

Despite his evil intentions, Morden has a few redeeming qualities. He is fiercely loyal to his subordinates and is willing to risk his life to protect them. In some of the Metal Slug games, Morden has a tragic backstory, which helps to flesh out his character and make him more sympathetic. 

Overall, Morden is a complex villain hated and admired by Metal Slug fans.

Allen O'Neil

Allen O'Neil is a recurring antagonist in the Metal Slug arcade game series. He is a muscular soldier of the Rebel Army's special forces. He is often encountered as a boss character, piloting a heavily armed tank or helicopter, and is known for his aggressive fighting style and catchphrase "Heh heh heh... Die!"

Allen O'Neil first appeared as a boss character in the original Metal Slug game in 1996 and has since appeared in many of the series' sequels and spin-offs. 

He is a formidable opponent with powerful attacks and a high resilience to damage.

In addition to his role as a boss character, Allen O'Neil has appeared in various forms of Metal Slug media, including the animated series and the mobile game Metal Slug Defense. He remains a popular and recognizable character among fans of the series.

Other notable Metal Slug characters include Marco Rossi, the charismatic leader of the Peregrine Falcons special forces unit; Tarma Roving, a sharpshooter who is always cool under pressure; and Eri Kasamoto, a skilled spy who is known for her agility and stealth. Each of these characters has a unique personality and playstyle, adding to the overall variety and depth of the game.

Runs and Guns

One of the defining features of Metal Slug is its "runs and guns" gameplay style. This refers to the fact that players are constantly running forward while shooting at enemies. This gameplay style requires quick reflexes, precise aiming, and keen situational awareness.

From enemy soldiers to tanks to flying saucers, each level in Metal Slug has new challenges to overcome. The runs and guns gameplay style also allows a wide variety of enemies and obstacles to be thrown at the player. This keeps the game fresh and exciting, ensuring players are never bored.

Why Metal Slug Endures

So why has Metal Slug endured as a beloved arcade game decades after its release? There are a few reasons.

First, Metal Slug is a game that's easy to pick up but difficult to master. The basic gameplay mechanics are simple and intuitive, but the game's challenging levels and bosses require skill and strategy to overcome. This balance of accessibility and depth has made Metal Slug a favorite among arcade gamers of all skill levels.

Second, Metal Slug is a game that rewards experimentation and exploration. Each level has secrets, hidden paths, and power-ups, giving players plenty of reasons to replay the game and try new strategies.

Finally, Metal Slug is a game that's just plain fun. The game's colorful graphics, catchy music, and over-the-top action make it a joy to play, even after all these years. The game's irreverent sense of humor and cartoonish violence add to the overall charm of the experience.

A classic arcade game that stood the test of time 

Its memorable characters, intense action, and challenging gameplay have made arcade Metal slug a fan favorite for over two decades. 

From the heroic soldiers to the dastardly villains, each character has unique traits and quirks that make them stand out. Whether blasting through waves of enemies as Ralf Jones or taking on the Rebel Army as Leona Heidern, there's always a new challenge in Metal Slug. 

So, what are you waiting for? Come to Gamestate, grab a joystick, and get ready to blast some rebels.