Nostalgia is at times the sugar pill you’ve always wanted and Mercenary Kings Reloaded has that in spades. From subtle 80’s action movie references to pixelated artistry, Mercenary Kings brings the pain in just about every category a side scrolling shooter fan could ever ask for. That is, until you truly get into the grind of things.

So many different guns and knives can be crafted as you gather loot.

Mercenary Kings checks all of the boxes of the games it looks to pay homage to. The Metal Slug boxes are the directional shooting, the pixelated gore, and the arsenal of weaponry. The Diablo boxes are the loot (that you need for crafting i suppose) and the various items you can use to heal, destroy, and assist all of the mayhem you plan on causing all of the C.L.A.W. operatives you encounter. The Contra boxes, if there are any, would probably be the difficulty and the precision jumping required from map to map if anything. Throw a few more boxes in there and you can add melee weapons and gunparts that you can craft and use to make thousands of different guns and blades. Still, with all of that grandiose gaming artistry, Mercenary Kings still only partially sates my bullet hell desires.

There’s also a new mission that grants you a mech to destroy ALL of CLAW!

When you first touch down in a mission, you quickly find out that all of your enemies take quite a few shots to take down. In a way, this kind of steals the ‘bad-assery’ from your experience right off the bat. A part of what makes each of the other nostalgic classics so great is the ability to breeze through a majority of your foes coupled with tight jumping controls to allow for the most amazing dodging a fake Rambo has ever seen! Mercenary Kings kind of misses that mark with their enemies. While each have personality and a difficulty all their own due to crafty placement, they seem to absorb way too many bullets. That could be an effort to force you to utilize the gun crafting system a bit more but when you first start out, this does take away from the appeal of the game. The whole package as delivered seems a bit stiff on the controls and sluggish on the action side of things.

Frigg and C-Zar do jump different than the original soldiers but to what end?

With that said, this also puts a valuable emphasis on coop play which is where Mercenary Kings shines. With up to 4 of you (either local or coop!) jumping and pouring through ammo boxes on your way to untold bodycounts, Mercenary Kings manages to find a nice sweet spot for up to 4 friends looking to play a relatively mindless shooter that holds a bit of depth. That depth, of course is layered in the mission selection (which in this Reloaded edition has icons to describe the mission purpose) and weapon crafting systems wrapped around the difficulty level described before.

Yup, local coop is possible.

With characters that have subtle differences in how they jump, the appeal of using different characters is there but not exaggerated enough to be much of a positive or negative personally.

Still, with Mercenary Kings looking and sounding as great as it does, this is probably a perfect time suck for those looking for another Nintendo Switch or PS Vita game to cop. The online coop features and the simple yet relatively deep crafting will quickly become a fav on mobile platforms. Also released on the PS4, X1, and PC, Mercenary Kings Reloaded is a great retro styled coop addition to any gaming library.