Mercenary Kings Reloaded (Switch, XBox 1, PS Vita, PS4, PC)

Mercenary Kings Reloaded is a challenging (but fun) retro side scrolling shooter where players shoot first, ask questions later, oh and pick up any loot that was dropped. Four player local multiplayer is supported via splitscreen, making this a great fast-playing multiplayer game (particularly on Switch, reviewed here.) Players team up to accomplish timed missions (rescue, elimination, collection) which reward characters with cash money and materials to collect. Players can use materials (and cash) at the home base to improve their weapons, armor, and even personal upgrades. The game doesn’t roam far from its roots of dodge bullets and shoot everything that moves, but that’s a good thing.

Mercenary Kings Reloaded is a pretty standard platform shoot-em-up where players venture out into levels, shooting most things in sight while trying to avoid being shot. Characters have unlimited ammo, but can also carry limited numbers of healing rations and/or other toys like a shield to hide behind. Characters lose health when hit and can heal up with their limited rations as they play. Characters can be knocked out entirely, but have a few extra “lives” that put them back in the game fully healed but usually back a few screens from their previous progression. Characters in multiplayer games share extra lives so one poor player can use them all up fairly quickly. This is dangerous because if someone dies and there are no more lives left, the mission immediately ends in a failure.

Mercenary Kings starts out with a short tutorial mission where players are sent out to kill off some animals in a short, easy mission. While searching for the correct animals, players also collect materials and supplies left behind when enemies are killed. Materials collected can be sold off at the base for cash, but more importantly they can be used to create upgrades for equipment, guns, armor, and even mods to their person. This is where Mercenary Kings stands out from the pack of other platform shooters. The gameplay is fine and a somewhat story based progression (new levels are unlocked as you gain in rank) but being able to trick out your character however you want keeps you coming back for more (just need a couple more steel to get that new sight for my rifle!) For example, I chose to go with a high powered shotgun with 7 or so shots before reloading while my eldest son went with a lower powered (per bullet) submachine gun that had dozens of shots in its magazine.

As I understand things, the “reloaded” part of of the game are usability improvements to the game like clearer maps, the ability to buy materials for cash, and more characters and guns. If you have played the game previously (on another platform) the new additions significantly improve one’s quality of life.

I found Mercenary Kings Reloaded to be a great multiplayer experience for my family. I like that the game splits the TV screen into four parts. We don’t have to spend all our time trying to stick together in just one screen as we progress. (I believe we even got it set up so that our 3 player game conveniently has a map in the fourth quadrant.) My sons and I have enjoyed venturing out on missions, looking to see what new sorts of materials we can find in order to build and purchase upgrades. This is currently the main draw of the game for us. The battles and missions (and the materials we can collect on them) are how we pursue our next upgrade. At first, I found the game difficult (for the three of us) but it was clear we needed son the younger to up his game somewhat so he wouldn’t just burn through all our lives. It also improved immensely as soon as we unlocked the ability to start upgrading our weapons. We had collected piles of materials by the time we got to a point where we could do anything with them. Mercenary Kings Reloaded is not a AAA high-end game with huge replay potential. However, it is a solid independant game with plenty of gaming value in a lower price range. Fans of shooters and definitely fans of local co-op gaming opportunities on the Switch should check it out.

Kid Factor
You are soldiers, with guns and knives, fighting other soldiers (and animals, and robots, etc…) So there will obviously be some violence. In its favor, most things just blow up and fade away without dwelling on any particularly gruesome details. Even on the easiest settings (especially before you are able to purchase upgrades) the game can be difficult, but it is gaming experience rather than strategic expertise that is needed to play. Despite the war theme, objects are pixelated and damage is not glorified, so I am comfortable with my mid-elementary son playing the game, especially since it is a blast to play together as a family.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!