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Found 7 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Mercenary Kings

    Developer: Tribute Games Publisher: Tribute Games Platform: PC (Steam), PS4 (PSN) Release Date: March 25, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature You might not remember it, but in 2012, Tribute Games ran a Kickstarter for an awesome-looking arcade action game called Mercenary Kings. It took a while to release but certainly not as long as some other crowdfunded projects out there. Now that the game is out we can appraise how successful it was at meeting its goals, or more importantly, how fun the game is regardless of intent. Mercenary Kings is a 2D action platformer with roots in classics such as Metal Slug and Contra. The spirit of these titles is kept alive thanks to pixelated artwork and similarly fast gameplay. After selecting from a list of missions, you set off to a stage to complete its given goal. Usually, orders are pretty simplistic. Find a certain amount of item, person, or take someone out and then head back to home base to select a new mission. The basics are simple enough, but there“s definitely more to it than that. Between missions the player can upgrade their weapons, get their goods modded, and stock up on other supplies. One weird facet is a simple crafting mechanic which facilitates upgrades. No, it“s not like Minecraft. All you have to do is collect craftable objects during missions and then bring them back. Items are all over the place, either popping out of enemies as they die or locked in easily-breakable chests. Thankfully, there“s no limit to how much of the crafting stuff you can carry. The same is not true for more mission-imperative items. With that said, you can easily ignore most of this stuff and simply get to shooting up everyone in sight. Enemies come in a handful of types such as sniper, robotic snail, and other obvious cannon fodder. Each has their own tactics for efficient termination, but often you can employ the same general ones. For many characters, simply ducking and waiting between bursts of fire is good enough. It“s a shame that "waiting" is at all a part of the gameplay, though, considering Mercenary Kings wants to be a totally frantic experience. When the game is at its best, you feel like a real badass. After getting the basic mechanics down it is easy to work through enemies without a scratch. It“s not too hard thanks to the fact that enemy bullets apparently fly in slow motion. For whatever reason, there is an active reload mechanic, though, which can lead to trouble. During each reload session you can cut down on time by hitting the reload button at the right time with an on-screen prompt. Because the prompt always shifts the "best" spot, you“ll need to keep an eye on it. As such, you might be thrown temporarily out of whack with the rampant destruction around you. This may be just one unfortunate design decision but the more glaring issue is the missions themselves. As previously stated, there are a few types that reoccur a ton. They could effectively be considered "fetch quests" in many instances since you just need to find their markers on the map and head there. With little variety in general gameplay, Mercenary Kings can become a very tiresome experience indeed. It“s a tremendous shame considering the game otherwise has a great deal of visual polish. With art by famed pixel artist Paul Robertson it stands as one of the most attractive pixelated indie games to date. However, there is a weird proclivity to make nearly every female character in game have tremendous, jiggling breasts despite characters“ otherwise chibi-style frames. If you don“t mind (or, instead, enjoy) that then the art will probably appeal as 100% awesome. The soundtrack is also suitably awesome for a modern 2D action game. Although the gameplay is incredibly repetitive, you may find it a ton of fun when getting together a group of friends to play. Local co-op includes slots for four players and amps up everything. As bullets spew all over the screen, you“ll find accomplishing missions much easier than before. This changes them from being chore-like to entertaining experiences. You can also play online but, again, you“ll want to set up a time between friends. Strangely, the online player base seemed quite dead - or I was just online at all the wrong times. There was so much work done to make Mercenary Kings look and feel like a very cool retro game for the modern age. But there are still points where it falters. Those who enjoy (or can look over) repetitive missions cannot ignore the bugginess. On nearly every gameplay session the game would crash. This is purely in regards to the PC version. Thankfully crashes were always upon mission start rather than during one, but it was still an annoyance. In many ways, Mercenary Kings is a polished, entertaining product. It has excellent artwork, imaginative bosses, and fun references to other games. Gameplay is also easy to get a grasp of. However, thanks to the decisions to limit the game in scope via dull missions, the appeal quickly starts to wear off. Those who have the option to should play local or online co-op to enjoy the entire game. Otherwise, you“ll likely find yourself worn out before long. Pros: + Mastering the game feels very rewarding + Lovingly detailed pixel art + Online and local co-op for increased mayhem Cons: - PC version seems prone to crashing - Missions are far too repetitive - Active reload mechanic is an unneeded annoyance Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent Mercenary Kings had a lot of promise and partially lives up to expectations. Just don“t go into it anticipating the next Metal Slug and it“ll satisfy your 2D action platformer needs. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Mercenary Kings Screenshot 4

    From the album: Review Images

  3. Marcus Estrada

    Mercenary Kings Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  4. Marcus Estrada

    Mercenary Kings Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  5. Marcus Estrada

    Mercenary Kings Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  6. Developer: Tribute Games Publisher: Tribute Games Platform: PC Release Date (of Early Access on Steam): July 22nd, 2013 There's just something about nostalgia that makes us want to go back to older games, games that we played as a kid or in our teens. Games on the SNES or Neo-Geo had vibrant colors, great music, and some addicting gameplay. Mercenary Kings nearly perfectly catches this same vibe of nostalgia and uses it the max with some fresh, more modern gameplay ideas. Mercenary Kings primarily takes from two games about 10 years apart- Metal Slug and Monster Hunter. Is this a bad thing that it copies concepts from two equally classic games? Well, for the most part, not really! Gameplay consists of your slightly customizable character running around, shooting your weapon in the four basic directions (up, down, left and right), killing baddies. Crafting new, fancy weaponry is also a key part of being successful in the currently ~60 missions in the game. If you don't have a bigger gun, you can't defeat the bigger enemies, right? The gun crafting, while not too complex, seems pretty neat from the start. You have a wide variety of "parts" that you can attach to your little base weapon that make it larger and more cool-looking. Do you want to make a pistol that looks like a shotgun? Get a pistol base and put tons of shotgun parts all over it. You can also have different ammo for your gun, but certain guns will only take certain ammo, which makes sense. The way you get different materials to craft parts is through killing enemies and picking up what they drop. Beyond that, the RPG elements sort of stop, which is a bit unfortunate. You have a military rank, which is like a level, but all you do to rank up is just complete missions for a flat XP grab each time. There's 60 missions in the game currently (with a confirmed 40 more to be added by release), and each is fairly long, so the game isn't really lacking in length at least. Depth? Perhaps, but if you play with friends the fun can be endless. It doesn't really feel like a game meant for co-op though, so playing by yourself is perfectly fine. Each mission for example tasks you with a different objective, but if you watch your map it isn't too hard to find where to go. Well, the game is still fairly challenging. You can only take a few hits before dying, but you merely respawn at the last infirmary you passed by. The time limit, however, is your greatest enemy. Can't find all 8 hostages before the 15 minute limit is up for that mission? "Mission failed!" The somewhat low time limit on some of the harder missions and how the game doesn't seem to be meant for co-op are my only two major complaints however. Every other aspect of the game is stellar! The gorgeous SNES/Neo-Geo style graphics are lovely, and the animations are very fluid and sometimes amusing. I swear, Tribute Games and whoever does their art do some amazing retro stylized graphics! The rockin' chiptunes are equally great too though. I made sure to listen to some of the catchy tunes while I worked on this review and sometimes even while just sitting at my computer doing nothing. That main theme on the title screen is gold! The music will not disappoint! One thing I'll say before concluding this look at what will probably be one of the best pixel-art games this year is that the keyboard+mouse controls are pretty bad. The options menu is blocked so you can can't change anything yet, and the default keyboard controls are really strange. I immediately switched to just using a controller because it felt way more natural and not awkward and weird. This is definitely a game that you can only use a controller on for now, so keep that in mind before you check it out! Honestly, Mercenary Kings feels much more like a finished game with a few small nitpicks that can be patched in with "version 1.1", if you get what I mean. This doesn't seem like an early alpha that is barely playable, no, it's a full game pretty much. So, I highly recommend you play it! It's not an insta-buy as is, but if you can wait for the price to drop or don't mind the $15 price tag, this is a fantastic game to check out!. If you aren't into platformers with a lot of shooting in them like the Metal Slug games, this isn't for you most likely. If you're fine with that though, this game is a ton of fun and with friends it's even a bit more. In it's current Early Access state, Mercenary Kings gets a: 8.5/10 "Whether its solo or with friends, move out, cut down CLAW and save the world!"
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Steam Early Access Brings Mercenary Kings to Lineup

    Usually Valve unleashes multiple Steam Early Access games each week. For this week though only one game made it through. Perhaps this means Valve are being more cautious with the games allowed on the service? Or maybe they're just taking a little break before hammering users with a million more alpha/beta games next month. In any case, a really promising title just hit Early Access and it's Mercenary Kings. Although the game is still in beta, Tribute Games have already provided a fairly solid product. The current version available already includes 60 missions! According to the developer, they're aiming for over 100 missions in the final release. The 2D shooter looks like a mix of Contra and Metal Slug with really appealing pixel art. Both single and multiplayer co-op are included (local or online). If you're interested in Mercenary Kings then be prepared to spend $14.99. Or, if you are willing to bet that you (and three friends) will love the game then try out the 4-pack for $44.99.
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