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Virtual Console Essentials: Mercs

Wolf of the battlefield...

There was once a time when the arcades were packed with vertically scrolling Rambo-style shooters. That time was the 1980s, and although Capcom's Mercs didn't appear until 1990, it's very much of that era.

Your job is to locate a kidnapped former US president by marching through enemy territory and laying waste to anything that moves. Your shirtless supersoldier packs some kind of minigun under his arm, firing a constant stream of fat blue bullets and lobbing grenades all over the place. It's completely mindless but it's a lot of fun.

BRINGING THE HURT

The bad guys roll up in pickup trucks with anti-aircraft guns on the back. Seconds later, they're engulfed in flames and you're trudging past the wreckage, looking for another village to torch. They pushed you - they will pay.

It's probably about as close to an '80s action movie as the games hardware of the day would allow. You'll have to use your imagination before the little pixellated warrior starts to resemble Dolph Lundgren, but he certainly walks like he means business.

The best feature of the original coin-op had to be that three players could team up and cause three times the havoc. Sadly the weedy Mega Drive couldn't handle that amount of awesome, and although the Wii is perfectly capable of emulating the arcade machine, we're stuck with Sega's single-player conversion on Virtual Console. No surprise, of course, considering the entire VC arcade collection amounts to less than 20 titles.

Close Close

However, the home edition comes with an excellent 'original' mode in which you gather a team of four mercenaries during your mission. Once they've been recruited, you can swap between them to take advantage of their different weapons.

Each merc has his own stats that can be boosted at supply tents. It would be nice to be able to invite a couple of friends along, but the remixed levels and character changes of this Mega Drive exclusive are at least some form of compensation.

BURN IT UP

Mercs is the sequel to Capcom's Commando, and is a far better game than its famous but slightly rubbish predecessor. There's a wide selection of weapons to find, including a flamethrower that's perfect for crisping up waves of enemy soldiers, and you can even go on a rampage in stolen vehicles. Tanks, boats, jeep and gun turrets are all at your temporary disposal, acting as shields to protect your health bar.

Still not sold on it? Original mode throws in a laser cannon and some homing missiles - the kind of arsenal that would make Sylvester Stallone mumble with joy. Come on, it's only 800 points. Leave your brain at the door and jump into some serious ACTION!

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