Vive la Résistance
Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition is an interesting blend between Mega Man style platforming and Monster Hunter-esque missions and upgrades. Players take control of a member of the Mercenary Kings, the greatest warriors-for-hire on Earth, as they aim to take down a dastardly military group called CLAW.
Like Monster Hunter, the main draw to Mercenary Kings — for me, at least — is upgrading weapons. The main method of attack is a firearm that players can make upgrades to its stock, magazine, sight, and more. Admittedly, I don’t know much of anything about the ins and outs of guns, nor do I care to, so I appreciate that the customizations in Mercenary Kings were more over-the-top than realistic. Each new piece requires several different materials that players can find across a variety of missions, and each of those pieces offers different statistics that affect the gun’s rate of fire, damage, magazine size, and more. This can get pretty grindy, though, as some of the materials are harder to find than others.
That grind may be alleviated depending on how much enjoyment players derive from the missions themselves. Missions are broken up into a long list of tiers that act as difficulty levels, and send players through a handful of different environments — ruins, POW camps, military cities — as the Mercenary Kings take on CLAW. There are a handful of different types of missions, and some are definitely better than others. Standard neutralization missions will send players hunting for “X” amount of a specific enemy to kill, or to defeat all the enemies marked in a zone on the map. Boss missions are the most difficult; the boss, which is usually in a giant mech suit, alternates between a couple of set points on the map and the challenge comes from the small quarters players are stuck fighting in.
Most missions may last from ten to 15 minutes, except for gathering missions that are almost always a slog. In gathering missions, players must collect a certain amount of materials to complete the mission. The location for each material is marked on the map, but there’s no mini-map on the HUD so players will be swapping between gameplay and map-checking pretty often.
I’ve seen the platforming and gunplay in Mercenary Kings compared to Metal Slug, but it’s a lot closer to Mega Man. Metal Slug is more fast-paced and frantic, whereas Mercenary Kings is slower-paced and methodical. Jumping even feels heavy like an early Mega Man game, and players can only shoot up, down, left, or right. This makes shooting flying robots a little annoying at times.
There’s a lot of personality in the basic enemies and bosses — this is where the Metal Slug inspiration is obvious.The pixel artwork is beautiful and detailed; however, while animations are fluid, the bouncing breasts for all the female characters is shameless fan service at best.
With Friends Like These
Online play changes everything for Mercenary Kings. Players can jump into random public rooms or play with friends online, and there doesn’t seem to be a restriction on joining missions; I was able to join missions that were several tiers above where I was at in the game.
Playing with three other players online makes things a lot more fun. Boss battles are easier and even the plodding gathering missions are enjoyable. There is one snag, though, and this happened to me a couple times. Similar to Monster Hunter, everyone in the party shares three lives, and the mission is failed when all three are expended. It’s incredibly frustrating when one bad player keeps dying against a One-Eyed Joe and causes the mission to fail after spending 15 minutes gathering materials.
I can’t imagine playing Mercenary Kings offline now that I’ve played so much of it online, though. It’s one of the funnest online co-op games available on Nintendo Switch.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition was provided by Tribute Games.