If you haven’t heard of Off Base Productions, chances are you’ve seen their work. From instruction manuals and web design to packaging and strategy guides, Off Base is a top of the line Creative Services firm, and has worked with companies such as Nintendo, Square Enix, Capcom, and Sony, among countless others. But it’s their newest endeavor that caught our attention: a line of self-published, limited edition strategy guides for independent games, the first being for the upcoming and highly anticipated Mercenary Kings.


With 2D shooter gameplay that Off Base Senior Editor Josh Richardson calls, “Metal Slug meets Mega Man,” Mercenary Kings by Tribute Games was funded entirely by donations through the website Kickstarter. As a fan-funded title, there is understandably some hype surrounding its release, and Off Base is following Tribute’s example by crowdfunding for the game’s strategy guide, the Mercenary Kings Master Codex.


In recent years, with the rise of forums and fan-made walkthroughs, printed strategy guides have seen a significant decline in popularity (see: Nintendo Power). If you’re like me, as much as you love the smell of a new book, you’re probably finding it more and more convenient to google cheats and free walkthroughs. This is where Off Base’s proposed line of strategy guides is different: they are much more than books that are, as Richardson states, “toss[ed] aside once you’ve beaten a game.” Instead, the Master Codex returns to its roots as not only a game companion but an art book, complete with artwork produced by Tribute Games, and is sure to retain monetary and aesthetic value for years to come.

A mock up of the variant cover by comic artist Corey Lewis.
A mock up of the variant cover by comic artist Corey Lewis.

For backers of this project, the rewards are hardly insignificant. While you can donate as little as $1, for only $20 you receive a hardcover copy and digital copy of the Mercenary Kings Master Codex, and for slightly more you can pick up quite a few exclusive goodies, such as art prints, an embroidered patch, and a custom bullet-shaped flash drive. Pledge $5,000 and you are given the opportunity to write a mission walkthrough for the guide itself; donate $10,000 and you are automatically promoted to an “Executive Producer” of the guide. But for those of us with slightly more meager earnings, there are still tons of rewards for a very fair price. What gamer doesn’t want affordable, exclusive merchandise? Add to that the knowledge that you’re contributing to something that wouldn’t have been possible without you, and you’ve got one sweet deal.

Fan or not, you have to admit that this is pretty sick.
Fan or not, you have to admit that this is pretty badass.

A beta version of Mercenary Kings is currently available for purchase from Steam via the Early Access program, but Off Base hopes to correlate the release of the Master Codex with that of the definitive Mercenary Kings PlayStation 4 edition, which is currently set for launch later this year. For more information on the Mercenary Kings Master Codex and how to donate, visit the project’s Kickstarter page or check out offbaseproductions.com.

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