Platform shooter Mercenary Kings calls in free reinforcements next month

Mercenary Kings

Even if you don’t own one of Nintendo’s new hybrid handheld/home consoles, the Switch’s very existence has given a few studios a solid excuse to go back and revisit their earlier titles, polishing them up for a re-release on the new platform. While not all of these trickle back to the PC (I’m looking at you, Cave Storylongingly), sometimes we get the benefit of the additional development time.

The latest game to undergo a Switch-fueled spit n’ polish cycle is Mercenary Kings, the charming-but-flawed platform shooter from Tribute Games. Relaunching early next month with a ‘Reloaded Edition’ subtitled, it’s getting a small expansion’s worth of extra content; two new playable characters and some surprisingly major quality-of-life improvements, all free.

The thrust of the new version is your usual ‘NEW CHARACTERS, NEW GUNS, NEW LEVELS’ stuff, and I can’t fault that. The two new characters are a charming duo too – athletic lady Frigg jumps faster than anyone else in the game no matter how heavy her loadout, while worryingly huggable-looking murderbot C-Zar has thrusters that lets him slow his fall. While not the most thrilling of gimmicks, having four different character sprites in a 4-player game helps somewhat.

There’s also a bunch of new weapons – what looks like ten guns and ten melee weapons – which, due to their modular nature, means a slew of new crafting components to be mashed together into hideous frankenguns. Always good fun. Grenades have also received an across-the-board buff, which is good as they were a little bit rubbish before. The new level will let you stomp around in one of those Steel Soldier mech-suits and exact revenge on the game for making you grind them for parts in the original release. Speaking of grind, that seems to have been addressed as well.

What excites me the most about this new version of the game is, paradoxically enough, the more mundane changes. More important than any new characters or levels, the¬†Reloaded Edition¬†will allow you to buy crafting materials with money, rather than having to grind missions in hopes of finding the requisite loot drops – that alone is a game-changer. Better still, missions now tell you what rewards they’ll pay out in advance, and your mini-map will display the locations of all objectives, meaning no longer will you spend 80% of your time completely lost.

With these quality of life improvements, returning to Mercenary Kings sounds like a rather good time, and one well worth bringing a friend or two along for the ride on. The Reloaded Edition of the game will be rolling out on February 6th as a free patch for all.

20 Comments

  1. shinkshank says:

    The PC Gamer version of this article (which is to say the one that details news of the update) describes Mercenary Kings as, quote, “A more explosive Metal Slug”.

    I’m glad to see that the game was, indeed, “flawed” as I recall, and that I didn’t fall into an alternate universe where things that blatant lies are now true.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      The concept of Mercenary Kings was always Monster Hunter + Metal Slug. Problem is that navigating a layered 2D environment is far more abstract than a segmented 3D one, and replaying scenarios doesn’t feel as natural when the combat mechanics are only a step above Contra in complexity.

      The new version sounds like it smooths out the speed bumps a lot.

      • KDR_11k says:

        I liked it until they patched in that bosses could run away, in MH you just run through some regular terrain but in Merc Kings that often involved difficult platforming challenges and by the time I got to the new boss location it was just about to move again.

    • Baines says:

      Do not believe that Mercenary Kings is like Metal Slug, much less “a more explosive Metal Slug”. Like Dominic says, Mercenary Kings is Metal Slug crossed with Monster Hunter.

      What is absent from that statement is that the Metal Slug part of Mercenary Kings is honestly kind of mediocre. A lot of the Metal Slug influence isn’t even gameplay, it is the art style. The gameplay is Monster Hunter somewhat poorly crossed with a generic platform shooter. If the game had used a different art designer, people wouldn’t even have noticed that there was supposed to be a Metal Slug influence.

    • GameCat says:

      I remember beign disappointed when I’ve played it (thank god it was from some bundle). I’ve heard a lot of people comparing MK to MS but I’m afraid these people never played both games or maybe even didn’t see any gameplay footage.

    • Cesar says:

      I really hate it to see negative comments on this masterpiece of a game, I wish there were more out there like it.

      As the top review on steam this is a 2d mix of borderlands and monster hunter. A great mix in my view and something I would love to see repeated in more titles 2d and 3d alike.

      This game has very few to do with metal slug and that’s a great thing. Metal slug sucks, it’s a linear shot’em up just like contra, with no rpg elements whatsoever. You play them once from start to finish and the second time it’s exactly the same thing all over again. Metal slug fan boys should invent a time machine and go back to the past instead of trying to bring down such a good game as this.

  2. cuchlann says:

    I don’t suppose they’re planning to fix the problem where the online multiplayer hasn’t worked in like four years? Because I pretty much bought that game for online multiplayer and have never been able to get it to work. The internet seems to have many threads saying “yeah, they broke it but never fixed it.”

    By all means, if there’s a way to fix it, please let me know.

    • kraken says:

      I played a lot in online coop with a friend and never had a problem. Is this a public match only issue?

    • Axyl says:

      I played it in online co-op with a friend less than a week ago. Zero issues. Worth checking again maybe? :)

  3. KDR_11k says:

    Odd timing, just as Monster Hunter World comes out and that game has made shooting a more viable approach. Now you can load special ammo into that bowgun and it shoots like a heavy machine gun!

  4. BooleanBob says:

    Am I the only person who likes the original Cave Story the most? The things they do to those original tunes are nothing short of criminal.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      There’s about six different soundtracks you can pick from now, including the originals.

      IIRC, the 3DS version is my favourite.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Yeah, I’ve browsed most of them on youtube. Maybe it’s just preference for the ones I heard first, or just preference full stop.

        So the Switch version lets you switch between soundtracks? Colour me very interested. The lack of huzzah might still be a deal-breaker though :(

        • Dominic Tarason says:

          The PC version lets you pick too – it came in one of the later patches. The main upgrade the Switch version got was nicer graphics.

        • Dominic Tarason says:

          Ah yes, here’s the 3DS version soundtrack:
          link to youtube.com

          It has the same hard-edged synth sound, but slightly more complex instrumentation. As appropriate for the stereoscopic system, it adds more depth to the music without pulling it too far out of focus, and I think it’s included in the current PC edition.

          Switch just does nicer things to the visuals, like have ‘out-of-sight’ cave background fade into darkness rather than just remaining tiled.

  5. fuggles says:

    I can’t be the only one amused that they called her Frigg… Snigger.

    • cuchlann says:

      Is there a particularly funny story about the Norse goddess that I’m not familiar with?

    • Megatron says:

      My 9 year old school self had a smirk or two, yeah. :)

      As ever, Urban Dictionary has the clarification (Definitions 2 & 3) although I’ve only ever heard it in reference to women doing themselves.

  6. falcon2001 says:

    I know that Mercenary Kings was not a perfect game, but as a huge MH fan, it certainly scratched an itch for me. I’ll definitely be picking this up.