Mercenary Kings Kickstarter

Canadian developer Tribute Games and several designers from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Ninja Senki, and Skullgirls, among other games, are working together on a new Metal Slug-esque 2D action game called Mercenary Kings.

While Tribute, which created the multiplatform block-breaking game Wizorb (most recently released as a PSN Mini), revealed a debut trailer for the game back in June, the independent studio announced yesterday that it was “Kickstarting” Mercenary Kings with a $75,000 funding goal. It hopes to raise even more — $200,000 at best — and plans to integrate more gameplay features if it reaches certain milestones.

“We really want to make this game the best it can be,” the team wrote on its blog, adding that it’s “looking into” bringing Mercenary Kings to Steam. So far Tribute has confirmed that the game will release on PC and feature local four-player co-op, with possible online support and additional platforms “if resources allow it.”

“Tribute Games is a fully self-funded company,” cofounder Jean-Francois Major told GamesBeat. “We like to keep it that way as much as possible. We would rather not have suits telling us how to make games. Wizorb’s sales have really help fund Mercenary Kings, but we need a bit of extra help. This is where Kickstarter comes in.”

Gamers play as King, the most talented mercenary on Earth. His mission is to avenge his fallen allies and destroy a criminal organization located on an island in the Central American Pacific Coast. Different characters can storm the battlefield with you, such as the Gunsmith (who can craft firearms and upgrade your body armor), the Knife Expert (who can design custom blades), and the Shopkeeper (who packs all the supplies you’ll need). Major informed us that two other NPCs, the Colonel and Helicopter Pilot, “will help you in a much more engaging way during your missions.”

“We we’re big fans –and still are — of the Monster Hunter series, Castlevania, Metal Slug, and Contra,” he says. “So it only made sense to try to create our take on the games we enjoy playing.”

Paul Robertson (the art director for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) is overseeing the game’s main art style, and his assisting team consists of Major (programmer and environment specialist, who formerly worked on Deus Ex: Human Revolution), game designer and pixel artist Jonathan Lavigne (the creator of Ninja Senki and cofounder of Tribute Games), animator Jonathan Kim (the senior animator on Skullgirls), and background artist Stéphane Boutin (Monster Burner).

Composer Patrice Bourgeault (Ninja Senki) and sound designer Jean Chan (Wizorb) are also involved.

Mercenary Kings NPCs

Rewards for backers include digital copies of Tribute’s two games, a downloadable copy of the soundtrack and art book, closed beta access, a limited edition Bryan Lee O’Malley-designed hoodie, a chance to be an in-game hostage, and more.

Tribute Games has been designing Mercenary Kings “for a little while now,” says Major. “Our first prototype, which we showed for the Dream.Build.Play competition, was done in just a bit over two months.

“Kickstarter is an amazing platform. It really helps you direct your ideas on the right path. You can test the market without taking too much risk. If a Kickstarter project fails, you should probably go back to the drawing board. When it does reach its pledge, you have that much more weight on your shoulders. You need to deliver on your promise. Oh, and it also lets you see who your real friends are.”

So far Tribute Games has achieved 35 percent of its goal on Kickstarter.