Developed by Tribute Games, Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition is an interesting blend between Mega Man style platforming and Monster Hunter-esque missions and upgrades. Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition is a re-release of the 2014 title that was simply titled – Mercenary Kings. 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. This “Reloaded” edition features two additional characters, Frigg and C-ZAR, as well as an additional mission and a few more knives and guns. The story of Mercenary Kings isn’t engrossing, but it does fit the “action movie” mold really well. The character you play as is part of a group of mercenaries who are out to stop an evil organization called CLAW. These CLAW dudes have been getting their hands dirty with biological weapons and a host of other stuff that evil organizations tend to dabble in. Your group has set up a camp at an undisclosed location where they are planning to bring down CLAW.
The first thing you’ll likely notice about Mercenary Kings: Reloaded is it’s visuals. The game is drop-dead gorgeous, especially if you consider yourself a sprite-connoisseur (I’m not talking about the soft drink). The hand-drawn environments and characters are all full of charming details that pop off of the Switch’s screen. The animation is beautiful as well. Each and every character has as a bounciness to them. The obvious comparison when it comes to Mercenary King’s visuals is Neo Geo’s Metal Slug series. Similar to that series, even the enemies look cute. Well, except for when their head is shot off and blood is gushing everywhere. Fans of retro visuals, in general, will fall in love with the sprite work presented here
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. 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.
Most missions are basic in nature and will simply require you to take out certain enemies. The more structured missions will task you with rescuing hostages or locating a fellow mercenary who’s lost on the battlefield. Some missions might even have you capturing a member of the CLAW organization. These capture missions can be confusing at first because the game doesn’t tell you exactly what is needed to be done. After a handful of failed missions due to me killing the enemy, I finally decided to utilize one of the special weapons that I was able to purchase from Golden Gate. The mission ended in a success after that, but I felt as though this info should have been explained in the mission briefing. Locating a boss enemy was another task that was never explained. But again, after some experimenting, I finally realized that the skulls on the map determined where the boss “could” be located. It’s times like these that I wish game manuals were still around. Even though you’ll be given different tasks to complete missions, some players might feel as though they’re doing the same thing over and over again. This is because the missions often take place in the same location. Not just two or three times either. I’m talking dozens of times! You’ll be fighting the same enemy time and time again because you’ll be revisiting the same map over and over. Now, there is some good to this. You’ll know exactly what enemies to expect to come across, so you’ll know what routes to avoid.
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. 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 play with my friends PwerLvlAmy (a fellow YouTuber) and Shinobu Bad Request on missions that were several tiers above where they were 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. It’s one of the finest online co-op games available on Nintendo Switch.
Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition is a neat combination of Monster Hunter style grinding and Mega Man platforming and gunplay while at the same time It’s like they took two of the most beloved retro run and guns – Contra and Metal Slug – and added a crafting system. As long as you don’t mind a little repetition, you’ll get a ton of enjoyment out of this title. If you’re a big fan of games packed with charm, you NEED to play Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition.