Mercs was a Capcom coin-op released to arcades in 1990. As the follow up to the classic Commando, it kept to the formula of a lone soldier marching up the screen and shooting all-comers. Albeit with some contemporary touches. Up to three players could dive into the action simultaneously. There were power-ups and different weapons dotted about the game in destructible crates, and each level climaxed in a face off with the customary boss. Mercs was very well received, did quite well and received home conversions to most computer formats. Sega snagged the console rights and subsequently released the game for the Master System and MegaDrive. The latter, of course, being the best version by some distance.
While lacking the multiplayer options of its arcade parent, MegaDrive Mercs is a superlative product. The game is faithfully replicated within the the machine's technical confines. The bosses are as big 'n' beefy. The animations are all present and correct, including the satisfying fiery deaths when enemy soldiers are touched by your flame thrower. And, if anything, the music is slightly better with a greater range of tunes. The gameplay is the same too. Just waltz up the screen, shoot people, collect power ups, weapons, and health - what could be simpler. Except Mercs allows you to commandeer enemy vehicles. Jeeps, motorised dinghies, gun emplacements, even a tank can be seized hold of and turned against their owners. Thought Halo was the first to do this, eh?
As a teen dosed up on Hollywood militaria, post-apocalyptic science fiction, and the quatrains of Nostradamus, I concocted my own cringe-worthy narrative that played in my head alongside the on-screen action. It involved, basically, a genetically modified super soldier I had sent into battle against the forces of evil. Through that hokey fantasy, my own agency as someone who could impose their will on the world was affirmed.
Or perhaps my chin-stroking musings in 2015 are reading too much into it.