I didn’t ever play those 2D side scrolling shooters as a kid. I came into the game a couple years after all that Contra/Metal Slug/Metroid kinda died and went away (although I did have a good few blasts on Forgotten Worlds for the Genesis, god that game was strange). So when I stumbled across Mercenary Kings for the PC and PS4, I was a little hesitant to add it to my collection, I felt as though it was going to be one of those throwback games, where reference after reference to the golden oldies is made and the game just goes straight over my head.

And you know what, exactly that situation could be occurring, but I don’t care, because this game is extremely fun.

Tribute Games haven’t really done anything new with this 2D side scrolling platform shooter, but they’ve taken absolutely everything that every other 2D side scrolling platform shooter has done and perfected it to become what could possibly be one of the greatest 2D side scrolling platform shooters of this generation (we really need to think of a shorter genre for this game).

It’s graphically pleasing, spritey (yeah that’s a word now) enough to retain that old school feel whilst quirky enough to place itself amongst the modern and the soundtrack is no different. Visually it’s like Braid meets Ghouls and Goblins, sound-wise the game sounds like how you remember all those great genesis soundtracks sounding, before you replay those games and realise how bad they were.

. The weaponry available to your character as he blasts his way through the storyline is ever expanding, with new weapons and armour and “mods” (personal upgrades) that you have to craft through items you find whilst out shooting things in the face. “Ooh look a piece of wood, I’ll wipe this blood out of my eyes and then put it in my backpack so I can make a gun with it later”. There are so many missions to complete, a good few hours will be sunk into this game I assure you, whether you are a master scroller or not, and you better hope you are because this game gets rather tricky in places rather fast.

I could not praise this game enough, it perfectly encapsulates everything that I could have wanted from a 2DTriple S (nah that just doesn’t roll off the tongue like 2D Side Scrolling Shooter does), as a guy who was a sceptic about the entire genre beforehand. Go out, grab your coins, and add this game to your collection, you will not be disappointed.