Metal Slug – “Main Theme from Metal Slug” (Takushi Hiyamuta, Jim)April 6, 2010
Metal Slug is one of my favorite action games. It’s basically Contra on crack. The series features intense run-and-gun commando action through brilliantly illustrated environments full of slapstick comedy, surrealism, and over-the-top violence. Instead of running and shooting at you, some enemies will run in terror (a perfectly reasonable strategy when an insane-faced commando comes dropping in on you unexpectedly), giant fish hang from posts, and soldiers explode with copious amounts of gore. There is a wide range of weapons including the Metal Slug tank which takes on its own personality as it drives through the environment. Not only is the series hard as hell (which is why it’s great the console versions tend to give you infinite credits), but it’s also got a great soundtrack. If you’re into any kind of action games, you need to go out and play this if you haven’t already! This is the “Main Theme” from the original game in the series (1996), which was released in the arcades and on the Neo Geo, an impressive cartridge-based system which was ultimately too expensive for its own good. Thankfully, you can get these games now for the PS2 and XBLA.
The “Main Theme from Metal Slug” is probably the most recognizable track from the game. It is appears in several guises, particularly in the “End Title”. Heavy on martial instruments – drums, trumpets, and strings – this is the perfect action piece for a comedic military shooter. The orchestral theme is built around nineteen or so main notes that find themselves repeated multiple times to great bravado. The track begins with a drumroll as Marco and Tarma parachute into the jungles to begin their assault as pounding drums and trumpets blaring the main theme drive the player forward through the gruesome work of warfare. At 0:45, there is a nice flute that is added before becoming more intense at about 1:10. At 1:24, the song becomes more intense before breaking into a hipper drum beat that breaks into this crazy saxophone jazz section. As one of my friends exclaimed, “It’s like Kenny G goes to Saigon!” Which is, of course, perfectly fitting with the crazy action (it’s not called ‘Contra on crack’ for nothing!).
Metal Slug 3 featured a deep congo mix of the “Main Theme” entitled “Blue Water Fangs (The Island of Dr. Moreau)” that was heavy on jungle drums, bongoes, and exotic trumpet lines. Here, they find their way into a lost world inhabited by giant crabs and killer flying fish. The remains of test rockets lie embedded in the beach, foreshadowing the game’s epic climax…
“Main Theme from Metal Slug” also received a rockin’ remix by Jake “Virt” Kaufman titled “Rocket Lounger” that featured some excellent guitar work and sax. While the SFX break in the middle is a little odd, it still stands as one of the best game mixes out there and a staple to any vgm collection.
The main composer, Takayushi Hiyamuta, worked for Irem (Undercover Cops, R-Type) before leaving with the rest of the splinter group to form Nazca Corporation, which made Metal Slug. He composed most of the music for the first four games in the series (includes X). The music from the first seven games was printed in the Metal Slug Complete Sound Box (2006) which was a pretty neat collection, but one that would set you back about $140 at the time (about half the average cost of a Neo Geo cartridge, btw).