Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PC, Switch, Xbox One
Publisher: Tribute Games
Developer: Tribute Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

It?s pretty remarkable what a fresh coat of paint can do for a game. Take Mercenary Kings, for example. When it first came out on PS4 as a PS Plus title back in 2014, its reception was, at best, mixed. While some people admired the way it borrowed from games of yesteryear like Metal Slug and Contra, it had its fair share of detractors, too — myself included.

It?s a sign of how far the game has come in four years that, playing its Reloaded Edition, all the criticisms I had the first time around no longer seem as significant. The biggest improvement, of course, is just that the game works. After all, when Mercenary Kings first came out on PS4, there were points where it was chugging pretty noticeably. Now, by contrast, it runs perfectly smoothly, even on the Vita.

Similarly, the original version of Mercenary Kings had a pretty steep learning curve. This time around, things seem a little more balanced. Rather than throwing everything it has at you right off the bat, the game eases you in with some easier missions — then it gets tough.

Some things remain the same, to be sure, but it?s the stuff that the game did well to begin with. It still borrows nicely from its influences in a way that comes off as a homage, without ever seeming too derivative. Likewise, the game puts an impressive array of firearms at your disposal, allowing for all kinds of satisfying explosions. There are more weapons on Reloaded Edition, but they feel more like icing on the cake than a necessary corrective to a major issue.

Having said all that, your enjoyment of Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition will still depend to a very large extent on how much you enjoyed games like Metal Slug or Contra. If you didn?t like them before, you?re probably not going to like a game that borrows from significantly. If you did, however, then you can rest easy with this game/homage, knowing that it no longer gets in its own way.

Tribute Games provided us with a Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B+