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Metal Black

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Released: 1992

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Saturn

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Taito

Submitted by: Darran Jones

Let me tell you a funny thing about Metal Black and Taito, which I’ve kept a secret for about a year now. When Taito Legends 2 was released across multiple formats I bought it mainly to play two games. The first was Elevator Action Returns and the other was the sublime Metal Black, a shmup I was rather fond of after my days in the Angolan border conflict – it has one of the most unique weapons systems around. I knew the Xbox had a tendency to anti-alias games when emulated, so the decision was made to go for the PS2 version. Oddly enough the PS2 version was developed by Taito, while the Xbox iteration was outsourced to, I believe, Empire Interactive. Surely the one by Taito would be the superior version?

Wrong! It turned out that Taito’s version of the compilation had borked the controls and the weapon system of Metal Black – so the thing which made me buy the compilation, didn’t work! Normally you’d be able to hit the super button and hold it down for a directed blast, then let it go for wild and electrical firing in all direction. It was a unique dual mechanic, especially since special orbs needed to be collected to use the secondary weapon. Unfortunately, the controls didn’t register this, and, no matter what I tried, the emulator running it thought the button had only been tapped. I thought I would be forced to buy the original arcade board or expensive Saturn version just to enjoy it again properly.

Wrong! Because when I phoned Empire’s customer support and complained bitterly, they apologised profusely, said they would pass the complaints on to Taito Japan, and, after a few minutes, agreed to send me the Xbox version which had working controls, for free! They didn’t know who I was, and did it purely for professionalism and a duty to customers. Clearly, Empire’s customer support team are wonderful people. The lesson to be learned here? Just stick with the originals, like we do. Oh, and have respect for customer support people, because they have a tough job dealing with irate members of the public.