Review: Mercenary Kings Reloaded (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: Mercenary Kings Reloaded (Switch)

by James Charlton

Move out, Soldier!

Mercenary Kings is a classic run-and-gun Metal Slug style game that originally comes from a successful kickstarter campaign from a few years back. Here we are with a “Reloaded” edition on Switch which apparently removes a few annoying niggles that the original had. 

First off it has to be said, the pixelized visuals are simply gorgeous, very much aping the look of the old Neo Geo shooters, and it all runs beautifully smooth. The music is also fantastically retro, instantly tricking you into thinking this is a long lost classic that has been re-released on modern consoles.

Here’s a heads-up though. If you are unfamiliar with these types of games, be prepared to die a lot - right from the start. Despite having a tutorial, there isn’t any handholding going on here. You’re thrown into a mission with nothing more than a peashooter of a handgun and told to get at killing dudes. You have a health bar, but it will get quickly whittled down by the bullet-spongy enemies and course hazards. If you are to be successful early on you will need to train yourself to take things slowly and carefully and focus on the mission at hand.

Missions can involve killing a certain number of a certain enemy type (by shooting them), rescuing NPCs (by shooting them), or collecting materials (by shooting stuff). The latter links into a central progression system that allows you to upgrade your armour, weapons, and various attachments for your guns. In fact most enemies or critters in the levels drop some kind of material - glass, steel, lithium, you name it. However, there is a random element at play here so it can be frustrating when you’re looking for a certain type of material to upgrade your weapon and you can’t find it.

This point leads onto another gripe which is the level designs themselves. They are multi-directional and can be downright labyrinthian at times. Later on you even get doors and caves that lead to other parts of the levels making them feel ever more huge. You’ll really have to stick to your map and focus on the parts you’re supposed to be going to, and be careful not stray into the massive sections that are still accessible, yet are not part of the mission at hand. Furthermore, in boss levels they will actually spawn in different places each time which can make the hunt for them quite laborious, and if you die they respawn in a different place!

Perhaps the levels are so huge because this game supports up to four players locally and online. Yes you read that right, an online co-op game on a Nintendo system! It actually works flawlessly, just switch your game to online and within moments a human player will show up in your camp running around and shouting preset messages at you. I said it had online co-op, but I hope you didn’t expect text or even voice chat did you?

Anyway the games that I played work perfectly, with no noticeable lag or connection issues. The only problem I had was that I always got tasked with other people’s missions at ranks way above mine, meaning my guns (and skills) were too underpowered to be useful. Thankfully there is a “sorry” preset.

Overall there is a huge amount of content here wrapped up a beautiful retro homage to Metals, Gear, and Slug. However, if you are simply an admirer of the graphics and are hoping for a quick pick up and play shooter to play casually, there are probably too many annoying aspects that would quickly put you off, namely, the brutal difficultly, the respawning enemies, the constant material grinding,  and the confusing map design.

However, If you like the challenge of those old school run and gun shooters, and are sick of lugging your Neo Geo around on the train you will no doubt love this - it’s almost tailor made for you.

Final Score: [Casual] 6.0
Final Score: [Hardcore] 8.0

(Review code provided by the publisher)

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