Sidescroller fans will have plenty to do in this split-screen shooter
Tribute Games, the developers of Wizorb, showed off a playable build of their Metal Slug-esque Mercenary Kings at PAX East this weekend. Does it look familiar? Yeah, it’s that awesome retro-looking side-scrolling shooter from part of the team that designed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game.
The rep for Tribute Games rounded up four of us on the floor to play two missions — a fetch quest, and a boss fight. Since the game had full split-screen support, all four of us could go do our own thing while the mission was playing out — effectively allowing only one person to have to do the quest, while everyone else goes off and grabs some cash or power-ups.
The fetch quest was pretty standard fare, but the boss assassination mission was a lot more unique. By using the mini-map, you’ll be able to see possible spawn points for a boss character, which are randomized every time you play it. It’ll help with replay value for sure, as you grind your favorite maps for cash.
My favorite aspect of the fairly standard retro shooter gameplay is the fact that there’s a “perfect time” reload mechanic, just like Gears of War. A little bar will appear over your head, and if you press the reload button at the exact time, you’ll get enhanced bullets — lest you take longer to reload after a screw-up. It’s a neat little way to add some tension to a 2D game like this, and something you rarely see in these games.
I also got a chance to check out the shop, which is pretty robust, to say the least. There’s a number of different knife combinations (pizza cutters?!), guns, and attachments to keep you earning money for a long, long time. Different guns will change your speed and movement range in a number of different ways — such as a bigger gun decreasing your jump height and overall speed. Controllers will also be supported at launch.
I got a Metal Slug vibe aesthetically, but conceptually, the level design reminds me of Bionic Commando — especially given the verticality to the maps I played, and the emphasis on going inside of buildings to find goodies.
Nothing about Mercenary Kings blew me away, but it was a really fun multiplayer experience, and there’s a lot of depth here. As a couch co-op game in an era that mostly focuses on just online play, it’ll be a ton of fun. Look for it later this year on Steam.