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Metal Black S-Tribute Review

Official Score

Overall - 50%

50%

Metal Black S-Tribute is a bland port of what amounts to a bland shoot-em-up. Its leveling system is novel, but everything from its action to its feature play things far too safe to consider over greater entries in the genre.

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A dystopian future awaits with the release of City Connection’s Metal Black S-Tribute, a port of Taito and Bing’s 1991 shmup cult classic. Should players level up their beams and grab as much NEWALONE as they can carry, or is this SEGA Saturn port a bit long in the tooth?

Metal Black S-Tribute Review

Boarding their fighter ship and traveling down to Earth, players will navigate dilapidated cities, space, dreamlands, and even a mirage of the mind as they set out to take down otherworldly threats.

Along the way, players will collect red, yellow, and blue cluster power-ups known as NEWALONE to boost up their beam level and take down any threats that may stand in their way. One can boost their level up to five, dishing out a healthy amount of damage with their standard shot. There’s even a chance to bring a friend along in a two-player frenzy.

However, one can also fire off their beam energy as a get-out-of-jail-free card to move to clear the screen in a frenzy of flash. While it does drain this meter back down to level one, this scattered lightning attack can cause massive damage to even the greatest threats. Think of it like a super bomb from other titles and you wouldn’t be too far off of what is found in this particular title.

This system in Metal Black S-Tribute is its greatest hook, but it doesn’t quite have the same impact as similar systems. Leveling systems in Gradius or Risk System integrated it far more into their gameplay, but it feels more as a nice-to-have the same impact here.

As a result, the approximately 40 minute runtime of Metal Black S-Tribute is a little too by-the-books. Longtime fans have seen this setup play out countless times before, from the flurry of bullets to the tiny hitboxes to the intense action. There might be a bonus stage that has players locking on to threats, but not even its flashy presentation and impressive scaling effects from more than 30 years ago can hide its boilerplate setup.

Unfortunately, this proves to be a straight port. There is the chance to rewind, add scanlines, include unlimited continues, and make other minor tweaks, but the suite of options is not that much different than the most basic features of RetroArch or MAME. This could have been an opportunity to make this title truly shine, but it ultimately amounts to being an overpriced ROM on the Steam store.

Metal Black S-Tribute is a bland port of what amounts to a bland shoot-em-up. Its leveling system is novel, but everything from its action to its feature play things far too safe to consider over greater entries in the genre.

This review of Metal Black S-Tribute was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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Casey Scheld

Casey Scheld has more than 15 years of experience in the gaming industry as a community manager, social media director, event specialist, and (of course) gaming editor. He has previously worked with gaming start-ups like Raptr, publishers like Konami, and roller derby girls at PAX West (check out Jam City Rollergirls)! Gamers Heroes is a passion project for him, giving him a chance to tap into the underground side of gaming. He is all too eager to give these lesser-known heroes of the indie space the attention they so rightly deserve, seeking out the next gem and sharing it with the world. Previously making appearances at events like CES, GDC, and (the late) E3, he is all too happy to seek out the next big thing. For those that want to talk shop, send over a tip, or get an easy win in a fighting game of their choosing, be sure to check out his social media channels below.

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