Call me a sucker for nostalgia, but I’m always going to be a fan of pixellated side-scrolling games. I grew up on the Nintendo with games like Contra and moved to arcade classics like the Metal Slug series. So, when I heard that Tribute Games was creating their own homage to these classic games with Mercenary Kings Reloaded; I knew that I had to jump on board and try it out. Now, the ‘Reloaded’ part of the title is because Mercenary Kings has already been released in 2014 through a Kickstarter campaign. This new game is now available on the Switch, Xbox, PC, Vita and PS4, which is where I played it. By releasing the reloaded version, Tribute Games has included a bunch of extra content, including all new knives, guns, and much more.

You start the game by jumping into the role of one of the heroes. Your basic objective is to complete a level within the allotted time by picking up weapons along the way that will help you kill the nefarious bad guys known as CLAW. The game takes approximately 15 hours to complete but the levels are filled with non-stop action, pretty tough A.I., and enough variety on the maps to make it an engaging experience that never feels stale. It’s the exact type of game that you plan on just jumping in on and playing for a few minutes and suddenly lose a couple of hours of your life because you just upgraded a gun and want to try it out on a bunch of baddies.

As I had mentioned previously, the graphics are 16-bit and glorious in that way. The animation of the weapons shooting and the baddies exploding is pretty fantastic. I love the level of detail that goes into a game like this because it goes to prove you that you don’t need cutting-edge graphics to make a fun game. Just give me something that doesn’t get me bored with cut-scenes and over-explaining the plot points and I’m a happy gamer.

One addition to this game that sets it about from it’s genre predecessors is the ability to loot. This allows players to hunt animals, find chests, or replay missions in order to gather materials. In return, these materials allow players to craft new weapons and armor, giving Mercenary Kings Reloaded light RPG aspects that make its gameplay feel entirely rejuvenated. You also have the ability to have 3 of your other friends join in on the fun with in a co-op mode!

It may be a trip down Nostalgia Road but Mercenary Kings Reloaded is one I’m willingly wanting to skip on down. The controls are tight and responsive, the graphics are filled with pixellated goodness, and the action is pulse-pounding and different upon every play through. I really did have a great time with the game and look forward to sharing with all of my friends for a fun weekend shoot-em-up!

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher.