By Werner Ruotsalainen on Sat, 08/18/2012
UPDATE (08/24/2012): the price of Metal Slug 3 has just been slashed to $3.99. A definite buy at that price!
Metal Slug 3 (iTunes link; $7) is one of the major game releases of late, receiving very good or even raving reviews (that of Touch Arcade is HERE)
Having found out that the initial – rather high – price didn't get slashed after a month of the release, I've purchased the title today, only to find out the promised, external hardware game controller (iCade) support just didn't work.
A quick note: other, decent iCade-friendly titles
BTW, speaking of price slashes and hardware controllers, two other, excellent, iCade-friendly and also recently-released titles have received major price reductions in the last weeks:
1, Alien Breed (iTunes link; TA review): an excellent port of an old Amiga game. While it's fully optimized for analogue on-screen dual sticks and the iCade only supports the traditional digital eight-direction directions for moving and absolutely no direction controller for aiming, I was able to play through the classic episodes entirely in about three hours without any previous playing experience using my iControlPad in iCade mode. (For example, it was only pretty late in the game that I've found out both the pocket map and the (virtual-$25k) laser gun are definitely worth purchasing in the in-game shop.) That is, while there still isn't a way of controlling the game in the best possible way, it's certainly playable and, which is most important, highly enjoyable if you play it with a Bluetooth game controller (iCade, iCP etc.). The game is a mixture of action game and a title that makes you think very hard when, for example, you plan the escape route you must follow during the self-destruction countdowns. (Read: it's not just a “dumb” shoot 'em up.)
2, Dynamite Jack (iTunes link; TA review). Another must-have for every iCade (iControlPad) fans: a beautiful game, particularly on a Retina-screen iPad 3. The game itself is a bit short (I've played it thru in about four hours total, using an external iCP, enjoying it REALLY much) but there are a lot of community maps, which may give you additional enjoyment in the future.
Back to the subject (Metal Slug 3 and hardware game controller support):
I've done everything to make my iControlPad work with the game. I've tried all tricks listed in the dedicated TA thread (see for example THIS and THIS one) – in vain. Finally, I've given up and took a closer look at the recently-released BluTrol 2.0 (on which I've first elaborated HERE), the brand new version of the hardware game controller connector for jailbroken devices.
Fortunately, it worked with Metal Slug 3. Furthermore, not only with the iCade (and the iControlPad with its iCade emulation mode), but also a lot of other Bluetooth controllers: external BT keyboards, ZeeMote JS1's, Wii Remotes and PhoneJoys too.
This is how I configured the native iCade (iCP) touch emulation:
(as usual, click the images for the much bigger originals!)
Note that I've assigned jumping (button B on the far right) to the left shoulder (rear) button (and not another button on the front right) because, this way, I can easily jump and fire at the same time – with two different hands.
Of the listed non-iCade (iCP) alternatives, I've tested the first two (external BT keyboards, ZeeMote JS1) with the game.
External Bluetooth keyboards
iOS gamers have long been asking me whether it's possible to emulate the iCade with a Bluetooth keyboard – after all, the iCade emulates a BT keyboard. It has been, so far, impossible as it would have been very hard for users to not only press the key for, say, “Up” direction, but also the (completely another) key for signaling the end of pressing the (virtual) direction key.
Now, with 2.0, BluTrol started supporting this. An example screenshot of its mapping the BT keyboard using Metal Slug 3:
Unfortunately, you can't redefine the standard D-pad keys (ASDW) – for example, can't use the directional keys on the keyboard. This is also mentioned in the intro text of the BT keyboard support:
Nevertheless, at least you can use Space or some other keys (see the above screenshot.)
Another piece of good news: all(!!!) kinds of Bluetooth keyboards are supported, even the first-generation (“white”) Apple BT keyboards, in addition to the newer-generation ones. This is definitely good news for owners of these old keyboards – now, they can be used for controlling games.
The ZeeMote JS1, so far, couldn't really be utilized on iOS at all. If you remember my old video (YouTube link; dedicated article) where I used its (then) mouse-only emulation mode to control a game, you know it was pretty much useless for game control.
Now, this is no longer the case. While its analogue stick still isn't the best to be used in strictly digital readout mode and its buttons are definitely cramped, it may still turn out to be better than the on-screen controls of Metal Slug 3 (or other games, for that matter).
A screenshot of mapping it to Metal Slug 3:
By the way, how does Metal Slug 3 compare to other (even past) Metal Slug titles in the AppStore?
1, Some years ago, there was an iPhone-only “Metal Slug Touch”. It received very bad reviews (an example) – the game was pretty much impossible to control (tilting only in a platform shooter?!), had low-quality audio. No wonder its initial (taking the “quality” of the title into account, very high, $5) price was finally slashed to $1 and, after that, the entire game has been removed from AppStore.
2, a new, free(!) title, Metal Slug Deluxe 2012 (iTunes link) was released some three weeks ago. It's just a shameless copy of the original game and should be avoided by any Metal Slug fans. It's not even worth downloading for free. (A dedicated TA thread worth checking out is HERE).
3, finally, you can always use emulators on jailbroken devices. iFBA is stated to be pretty good (Cydia info page; TA discussion). I haven't personally tested it myself so I can't really comment on its quality. It is sturely much faster on today's hardware than, back in 2007, the FBA port on Windows Mobile (my dedicated article from back then, also elaborating on Metal Slug, is HERE.)