Mercenary Kings Reloaded – Nintendo Switch Review
Originally released for PC and Playstation 4 back in Spring of 2014, Mercenary Kings gets a revival on Nintendo Switch early this year as Mercenary Kings Reloaded. Coming off the heels of a successful Kickstarter, the game was developed and published by a small team that goes by the name of Tribute Games. Many may notice the intricate, colorful, and lively 16-bit art style as the team is comprised of several artists and developers of the critically acclaimed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. The game features many hours of content with over 100 levels of frantic 2D “run n’ gun” action. The game places a heavy emphasis on multiplayer, as it allows for both local split screen co-op and online play with both friend and public lobbies. Anyone that is a fan of arcade style beat em up’s with heavy emphasis on customization won’t want to miss this title.
The premise and narrative of the game is quite simple. You play as one of four members of the titular Mercenary Kings as they try to take down the evil organization that is C.L.A.W. (Cybernetic Loyal & Active Weapons), led by the villainous Commander Baron. Beginning as a “recruit”, you must complete a certain amount of missions in the respective rank before moving on and climbing the ranks until you are able to reach the honor of General. Each level, or mission, of the game is set up to be a direct objective ranging from rendezvous points to complete extermination in which you must eliminate a certain number of opponents to proceed. You are given a time limit, as well as additional bonus missions that earn you extra cash rewards.
The cash that you accumulate throughout your missions can be used on a large array of customizable options for both your character, and your weapon. Character enhancements, or “Bionic Mods”, allow you to gain extra perks in the game such as speed boosts and higher defense. Weapon customizations require very little explanation, yet still offer a surprising amount of versatility for a 2D retro-style shooter. Players are able to modify the general type of weapon, range, damage, and even bullet type. These modifications also come at the cost of materials that are dropped randomly by enemies killed in each mission, some of which are much more rare than others.
The gameplay and customizability allow for multiple different types of strategy to emerge. From the most purist approach of going through the game with the starter weapon, to a very detailed and methodical armory that preys upon enemy weaknesses, the game can have its moments of difficulty. While the game definitely demands some form of strategy from the player, with its time limits and gruesome enemies, the actual variety the game has to offer can sometimes appear to fall flat. Every “rank” serves almost as a stage or a level that stays fairly static and limited.
As a direct result of this, the soundtrack often gets repetitive as the music doesn’t really change until you progress to the next rank and its respective landscape. This would have the players seeing the exact same landscapes for around ten missions doing very similar objectives that all involve killing the same type of enemy in fixed locations. These enemies also tend to respawn very quickly at times. This isn’t necessarily a negative, as it allows you more chances to obtain materials that they drop, but it can also be seen as a way to artificially inflate the difficulty and occasionally make the missions more monotonous.
As a whole package, Mercenary Kings Reloaded plays well, and finds its home on the Nintendo Switch. Seeing as each mission tends to have time limits from 5-30 minutes, it makes for an appropriate title to have on the go while playing in bursts. Bundle that with the ability to play with a single Joy-con and split the action up in 2 player split screen (albeit the fact that the map takes up a lot of space on the Switch’s relatively small display when doing 2 player) makes it yet another great game to have in your Switch library for the revival of “couch co-op” that seems to be the M.O. for Nintendo’s latest console.
*Review Copy was provided by Tribute Games, Mercenary Kings Reloaded is Also Available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.