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 Story… longingly), 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.