There are a bunch of good Game Boy games, both color and not, which seem to have been lost to time. At least it seems like it to me. I always seem to stumble across a game I have never heard of, or missed out on, when I look at the Game Boy games, I’ve collected over the years. Handhelds weren’t something I paid much attention to, so I wanted to look at the games I haven’t put much time into. The games are fun, cover every genre, and play well for the most part. Many of them I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing when I play them. There are no complete in box games in my Game Boy collection, I also don’t have the manuals for any of these games. One of the games I hadn’t heard of before was Mercenary Force.
Mercenary Force is a strange shooter. There were a few companies involved with the game’s development. There are some other games from these companies as well, and they also seem to be a bit different. When I first saw the game, I was thinking it was more of a tactical role-playing game (RPG) or it was an action platformer. I wasn’t really prepared for the strangeness of the game. I just wasn’t ready for the game I started playing after getting through the opening menu.
When you start the game, you create a team of four characters. This was the part which made me feel like I was going to start playing an RPG. There are five options, and you can select multiple of one class. This part felt a bit like the first Final Fantasy, or one of a dozen other RPGs. Assembling a party to go off and defeat the big bad guy at the end of the game. The classes are Servant, Samurai, Ninja, Mystic, and Monk. They have different attacks, attack range, and special moves. It really depends on what you want to try. Each of these classes costs money to recruit to your team, which makes sense because they’re supposed to me mercenaries.
This reminds me of a less annoying version of King’s Knight on the NES. Both games are shooters where you take on the role of a person. They can be a bit awkward at times, for different reasons. Mercenary Force is the better game in my opinion. It has problems but gives you the tools to get around those problems once you learn more about the game. There is a lot of flexibility in how you want to assemble your party. There are several hundred combinations of the characters you can make when creating your party. I’m sure there is a “best” combination, however, part of the fun for me was just experimenting with the different groups to see what I like the most.
Each of the mercenaries has their own attacks, hit points, and, except for the servant, their own special attack. There are four formations you can shift your mercenaries into. Forest formation has your group in a square, Mountain formation has them in a vertical line, Wind formation has them in a diamond shape, and Fire formation has two mercenaries in the back, one in the middle, and one in the front. The formations move as you encounter obstacles. You press the B button to shift between the formations. It’s an interesting way to change your field of fire. The enemies you encounter will also appear in these formations.
There are no continues in the game. This is a little annoying, but you keep playing until each of your mercenaries are defeated. There are also shops in between each level where you can replenish your life. The shop was a bit of a mystery at first. Three items are for sale in the shop. Sushi which increases your mercenary’s strength by one point, Medicine which increases your team’s leader’s strength by three points, and Tea which increases all your mercenary’s strength by three points. I had to look these up because I didn’t have the manual. This brought me back a bit. It was like renting a game or borrowing one from a friend. You might not know what the controls are or what the items do right away. So, you just need to do some trial and error to figure things out.
The more I play this game, the more I think it’s fun in a quirky sort of way. It’s a rather interesting game which takes a simple genre and does something to make it stand out. It’s a case of taking a chance on a different game play mechanic and making it work. While I like shooters like Darius, and Gradius I wish more of them would take a chance every now and then. It’s the weird shooters like this that make collecting games fun. You can find something you have never heard of and have a fun experience with it.
I’ll review another game next week. Playing these games is like putting a puzzle together. Some of the pieces are missing, there are distractions everywhere, and I must go find answers on how the picture should look. Finding more about this strange game has been part of the fun. I don’t know what game will be next. I just hope it will be as fun as Mercenary Force was!