Trombone Gun Shooty Blues: Mercenary Kings

What gross injustice. Those bushes aren't even armed.

Once upon a time, Tribute developed Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game, and it never came to PC and everyone got sad and died. It’s a fairly dismal tale, but a true one. Now, however, our fortunes have flipped, as Tribute’s next game – the marvelous looking, equally throwback-y Mercenary Kings – is only coming to PC. At least, for now. It’s a co-op-friendly megaton blast of run ‘n’ 87 bazillion gun action, a fusion of Contra and Borderlands by the looks of it. More importantly, two words: TROMBONE GUN. It’s in there, along with oh-so-many more delectable craftables. See them in action after the break.

BOOM BATHOOM RATATATATA [jazzy trombone solo]. That’s what I hope this game will sound like. Here is the greatest and best description of Mercenary Kings in the world. It’s not just a tribute. (It’s also pretty much the only one.)

“In this frantic 2D action game, you are part of the Mercenary Kings, the most skilled team of warriors-for-hire on Earth, but when your comrades have fallen and the fearsome forces of CLAW have seized an island-wide top secret Laboratory Base, you must do what it takes to stop them. But you’re not going in unprepared! Your back-up is made of a crew of rogue geniuses and experts of their field! Able to craft & customize guns’n’blades or upgrading body armor, you’ve never been this ready to join the fight.”

Mercenary Kings is hitting Steam Early Access on July 22nd. The side-scrolling shootyblammer is going for just $15 in its unfinished state, which sounds pretty fair. But, as ever, everything might not necessarily, you know, work, so spend wisely.

It looks quite nice, if not spectacularly innovative. I do miss Scott Pilgrim’s cotton candy rainbow of a color palette, though. Hopefully other levels offer more than the graybrowns we all fled back to the 16-bit era to escape. But enough from me; I have to start work on my weaponized ska ensemble. What are your thoughts on this one?


  1. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    Paul Robertson is the best. He also did animations for Wizorb, the Fight Fighters episode of Gravity Falls and the short Kings of Power 4 Billion! see here link to and here (nsfw) link to

    • Reapy says:

      Ahh nice, i saw that episode and couldn’t help thinking that it should be in a game.

      This one is very metal slug looking, nice.

    • siliciferous says:

      Paul Robertson is brilliant. I just happened to re-watch Kings of Power %4 Billlion a week ago, and right after that looked up his sites and found out about Mercenary Kings.

      • Shadrach says:

        Big fan of Paul Robertson here as well, although I’ve obviously not been keeping up with goings on. This looks like a lot of fun, comparisons to Metal Slug definitely are in order.

        I just hope it won’t be too frustrating, I am getting too old for hyper-twitch gaming but still am a sucker for retro platformers.

        Hopefully it’s controller-enabled!

    • Synesthesia says:

      Ha! You beat me to it. He is an amazing pixel artist.

  2. GameCat says:

    Looks like slow paced mix of Metal Slug and Mega Man, meh.

    Damn, world badly needs another proper Metal Slug game with kickass intense action, ‘splosions and shiny, well animated pixelart. At least I need.

    • BTAxis says:

      Don’t forget crassly unfair, quarter-eating levels.

    • GameCat says:

      No, MS for me always seemed to have fair difficulty which provides challenge that isn’t impossible to beat.

      Also Merenary Kings remind me a bit of Maple Story, that 2D platformer MMO.

    • mechabuddha says:

      As someone who loves Metal Slug but who has shit reflexes, this looks like it was designed for me.

    • Mr. Mister says:

      Have you tried Intrusion 2?

      • GameCat says:

        I’ve played demo, it was sluggish as hell, but maybe it was just framerate drop. I’m gonna try full version that I got from Humble Bundle.

        For me Metal Slug is still ultimate platform shooter with fast, challenging gameplay, funny and fluid animations, great music, graphics and SFX, Michael Bay-ish explosions, pseudo nazi dictators and aliens and overall wacky crazyness.

        No, you can’t just beat that. This is a rare case of game where EVERYTHING is just perfect.

        • Mr. Mister says:

          I never liked the staticness feel of the 8-directional bullets, which is why I personally liked Intrusion 2 more. The boss battles are also fundamentally different: while Metal Slugs’ have more pixel art quality and explosions, Intrusion 2’s, while more scarce, have “presence” and are far more dynamic.

          Though Intrusion 2 was made by a single guy, so obviously its assets pale in comparision to Metal Slug’s.

          • GameCat says:

            Staticness? I’ve tried Intrusion 2 again (now with better rig, so without slowdowns) – it’s sloppy as hell. Do I really need to move some rocks to be able to jump on that ledge? Do I really need reload checkpoint after death? In Metal Slug after death you just jump in the action again.
            Bullets are slow and sluggish. You doesn’t have grenades and knife.
            I don’t know how you can say that this is better than Metal Slug, even when we talk about subjective feelings.

          • AvistTorch says:

            Thank you! After seeing the game lauded all over the place, I thought I was the only one who thought Intrusion 2 was bad.

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            Waltorious says:

            I found Intrusion 2 improved significantly after the early levels. Things thankfully move away from “push the rock and use it as a stepping stone” and towards ‘blow everything up with extreme prejudice”. I was bothered by the slow bullets too at first, but it clicked for me when I realized that the game is like a combination of an action platformer and a shmup, complete with dodge-able bullets. And you do get grenades, in the form of a grenade launcher, which is an awesome weapon. The basic guns feel weak (except for the grenade launcher and plasma rifle), but encouraged me to be imaginative and shoot explosive barrels or knock down guard towers or hijack mech suits instead of just shooting everything. And the bosses are awesome.

            It’s still a different beast, but it’s worth sticking with it. At least make it past the first boss before you give it up.

          • Gargenville says:

            And to be fair to the Intrusion guy even at the height of big-budget 2D sprite pushing arcade games the list of teams who could out-pixel-animate Nazca was awfully short. Like, Capcom could if they wanted to (SF3 mostly) but it was a long ways down from there to the next best in the business.

            The main thing I don’t like about Intrusion is the fussy Abuse-style mouse-aim, ha.

  3. Syra says:

    Was that a trombone gun? Can we worship slaanesh while playing this game?

  4. G_Man_007 says:

    Will you get to play as Inspector Gadget?

  5. squareking says:

    Environments remind me a little of the Sunsoft Batman on NES. Then there’s Mega Man, Contra, some Metroid and Metal Slug…hitting some nice nostalgia notes. And it just wouldn’t be complete without gratuitous zipline boobies.

  6. socrate says:

    The only bad thing ive seen about this kickstarter was that it was extremely not well advertised and that the higher goal had one of the most stupid things ever aka when we reach 175k tier we can make a console version…

    I really hate paying for this…Dev need to start working on one thing at a time when they go on PC and stop screwing us up and trying to make it so we pay for the making of all port…if you’re going PC then concentrate on that…since i would rather see more diversity in the game then just know that my money is just going into making a console port instead of adding new stuff which they dont have much for a 15$ game quite frankly…starbound as a gazillion variety and planet to explore…you can build,fight,farm,explore,craft and cook…and play music(what will they add next)…this is basically a mapplestory with metal slug theme and a really small crafting system which look uninteresting and very limited seeing as they didint gather alots of money in the first place…

    so far they are at only their first tier of 75k which mean only 4 boss and 15 enemy…if the game would offer more then just combat i would understand but it being extremely limited mean that this isnt big at all…it also mean only local co-op…which is unthinkable to me at this point

    If they want to make a console version for a game just do another kickstarter and dont mix these things with us as a PC gamer always getting screwed up in the end,with console only title that are paid under the table to get “exclusivity” which we never as PC gamer have and never will have since the exclusivity we get is only because of the lack of restriction PC offer as a system and as a lack of controller restriction,we aren’t usually limited since you can use pretty much any controller you want….i just can’t deal with these things anymore when we always seems to get the short end of the stick all the time because they see us as pirate when in fact i see modded Xbox 360 all the time…now that the PC market is booming again and that what ive seen on the next gen console is pretty mediocre they now come back to us like nothing happened….

    • alseT says:

      Holy run-on sentence Batman!

      Though I understand where you’re coming from. Exclusives suck when there’s no platform holder on PC to pay cash money for the privilege. Our advantages are mostly ease of distribution, higher cuts and bigger market for indie devs.

  7. Randomer says:

    Who’s is doing the soundtrack on this? Love that sleek chiptune sound!

  8. Siimon says:

    Holy 4-player Local Coop! Shut up and take my money!

  9. peetabix says:

    Nathan, Mercenary Kings was also annouced for the PS4 at E3.

    • BisonHero says:

      Yeah, Mercenary Kings was on stage during the middle of Sony’s E3 press conference, though yes, Steam Early Access will be the only way to play the game for a while.

  10. The Random One says:

    This looks like the hyper-violent reboot of Commander Keen. I rather like it.

    I also like how the lady merc in the video’s preview is cosplaying as Camry.

  11. Zyrxil says:

    Ok, that’s nice and all, but where’s our playable version of Pirate Baby Cabana Battle?? Been waiting almost a decade!

  12. Ein0r says:

    First thought: This looks pretty cool.
    Second Thought: Could need a higher concentration of enemies on the screen; it looks a bit slow. (compared to the memories i have from contra at least)

    • honuk says:

      considering scott pilgrim was excruciatingly slow, I wouldn’t get my hopes up

  13. honuk says:

    I know it’s supposed to be an homage and all, but those character sprites may as well have been lifted directly from Metal Slug

  14. JoshuaMadoc says:

    I’m going to kick the ass of that someone that told me that this game would be a console exclusive.

  15. Danda says:

    I’ve tried the beta and it’s not very exciting. There are grind quests in which you get lost in a maze trying to kill just the right enemies who have the ore you need to complete the mission. If you miss them, you start running around backtracking and looking for a corner you haven’t visited yet (which is hard to tell). It’s really annoying.

  16. Bagpuss says:

    “Only coming to PC”… because consoles didn’t want it?

  17. Shodex says:

    It looks nice, but from what I’ve seen the pacing is a bit too sluggish.