Tuesday, 8 April 2014
First Impressions - Mercenary Kings
Mercenary Kings is a great example of how aesthetic can establish a misleading sense of expectation. Paul Robertson's chibi characters explicitly evoke Nazca's Metal Slug series, prompting the belief that this game would share similar core principles. I booted up with an idea that Mercenary Kings would be a scrolling run and gunner, ideally a playable version of Robertson's seizure inducing pixel animations. As it happens, the game isn't anything like that at all. Mercenary Kings is instead an RPG wrapped up in NES era design ideas.
The effect is actually quite confrontational. Instead of breezy dashing, players are stuck navigating vast multi-layered levels against a strict time limit. Enemies respawn as soon as their starting point is out of view, and mission related item drops aren't quite as regular as you'd hope. In this sense Mercenary Kings seems like a prank, everything about it seems to scream superficial arcade shooter, but instead it's a vast, repetitive resource hunter. As with their Scott Pilgrim game Tribute take a brief, sugary experience, extending and embellishing it to the point were it ends up something completely different.