The cozy room with its five display units was a stark contrast from last year's towering green monolith on the show floor, complete with a selection of arcade cabinets telling the history of SNK. I liked it this way though, since I could actually hear what Michael Meyers, a PR veteran of twenty-six years experience, was saying. Something almost impossible on the convention center floor. E3 seems to have caught SNK at a bad time with little finished product to show. A number of titles still early in development, and 2D games already released in Japan suffering the same roadblocks Sony US is prone to. What they did have can be summed in three words: Mostly Metal Slug.
Metal Slug (GBA)
This is a port of the original Metal Slug Super Vehicle 001, and still a bit early since none of the enemies had been implemented so far, but you could wander around and admire all the visual detail that they managed to stuff into the small cart. It controls well on the SP, though a little hard to judge with nothing to shoot at.
Metal Slug Anthology (PSP)
Pure happiness. If you're a fan of the Slug series with a PSP on hand I can't see any reason not to own this game. It's got six titles, from one to five with the inclusion of X, in faithful arcade ports that run smooth as tank treads, including ad-hoc support for taking on these evil armies with a friend. There's also three screen modes that can be changed at any time with a tap of the triangle button. While technically widescreen is stretching out the pixels a bit, it didn't look distorted to my eyes. This was the way I played through parts of three different Slugs before another appointment forced me to leave it behind. Sigh.
Metal Slug Anthology (Wii)
It wasn't playable, but I think it's worth a mention since it will offer both the traditional control method of the run 'n gun series, and a mode that will take full advantage of the Wii's motion sensing remote, such as making pitching motions to lob your grenades at offending enemies. Unlike their dealings with other companies in the past, SNK has found Nintendo to be a very supportive partner in this effort, so don't be surprised if you see more of their titles appearing on both Wii and DS.
King of Fighters 2006
This is what I came to the SNK booth for. I was a huge fan of Maximum Impact, and had to struggle to resist the temptation to import the sequel. After waiting a while watching someone fumble with Iori, I got my chance to try out the new characters as well as some of my favorites from the 2D series, such as Kula and Billy Kane. Then someone made the mistake of taking me on. He didn't last very long; not against my man Billy who looks and plays almost exactly like his 2D counterpart. KOF2k6 features thirty eight characters, for nearly double the roster of the previous game, each bearing a wide assortment of outfits, with references from Evangelion to Gundam. There's also a number of gameplay and visual tweaks, from the addition to just impacts to more detailed character models. I can't get enough of it, so expect a glowing review sometime in the near future.
SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters DS
Another month or so of development time, and this would have made it to the show floor, but unfortunately the game hadn't reached the point where it was possible to make a stable demo. Being a long time fan of the series of the neo-pocket, I couldn't help being just a little disappointed to be left waiting before I can finally get my hands on it. As screens show, it's been completely revamped for the DS with all new story and art, featuring over three hundred cards spanning the rich history of both companies, from their rival franchises in the dim past to their modern efforts. How much the gameplay has changed is hard to say at this point, but I can only hope they deepen the strategy without sacrificing the pick up and play feel that made the originals fun.