Mighty Switch Force! – Video Game Review
By Eric Stuckart
With Pushmo being the sole exception, there hasn’t really been too much in terms of must-have downloadable titles for the 3DS. Granted, unfortunately that’s a given with Nintendo’s typically behind-the-times approach to digital distribution, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
On the bright side, you can now add one more title to that small list of games that are well worth your time and attention on the handheld: Mighty Switch Force! Don’t let its somewhat anime-inspired looks fool you, the game is a pretty addictive puzzle platformer, from a developer that knows how to inject old school gameplay into their titles. Sure, Bloodrayne: Betrayal didn’t go over as smoothly for players as Shantae: Risky’s Revenge (another excellent piece of DSiWare that you should download immediately if you haven’t done so already…), but you can’t argue that it wasn’t going for a type of difficulty that isn’t found in today’s games.
Mighty Switch Force!, on the other hand, lends its difficulty more to the puzzles, in terms of how to solve them, with an added challenge found in solving them under par time. One part Mega Man with a big puzzle twist, the game centers around cybernetic police officer Patricia Wagon, who in each stage is charged with catching the five escaped Hooligan Sisters, who are hidden throughout the expertly-designed levels. After she catches them all, she has to report back to her robot partner, Corporal Gendarmor, and move on to the next level. From a story standpoint, that’s all there is to it, leaving the gameplay to speak for the game itself. It’s all very silly and whimsical, approached with an innocence that can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages.
Using her Helmet Siren with the push of the X (or either shoulder) button, certain blocks will enter or exit the foreground, creating a path for her to continue on her way. On top of that, there are plenty of environmental hazards, such as spike pits, enemies and walking bombs, the latter of which can come in handy to break through certain types of walls. Later on in the game, different types of blocks come into play, including ones that don’t switch out if the player is standing on them, as well as ones that act as canons, firing Ms. Wagon across the level, or until she hits a wall or the unexpected enemy. Armed with a pistol that functions much like the aforementioned Blue Bomber’s Arm Cannon, she is able to destroy some of the enemies she encounters by shooting them, and others by using her helmet to literally shove them into the screen by making blocks materialize. However, if players aren’t careful, she is susceptible to the very same fate.
The thing that I really liked about the game is that the puzzles are designed in a way that you know where you have to go, but the path there is not always the most obvious. Also, with the absence of the types of cheap deaths that tend to pop up in a lot of old school platformers, it centers the gameplay directly on figuring out the fastest path to each of the sisters and trying to beat the par time, a goal that becomes increasingly addictive as the difficulty curve starts to really ramp up.
However, for as fun of a game as Mighty Switch Force! is, it does have a few flaws that prevent it from becoming a true gem. For starters, there are only 16 levels total, with nothing else except the ability to unlock a better blaster after beating it and a different title screen if all of the levels are beaten under par time. This is the type of game that can be beaten in a few hours, depending on skill level, and beating the par times really isn’t that difficult until the last few levels. Considering the shortness of the game, it unfortunately ends just as it feels like it’s fining its stride. Also, while it changes up the gameplay slightly from level to level by introducing different types of switch blocks and enemies, the only level that really stepped up its game was the final one, which altered the gameplay in a way that threw a rhythmically challenging twist into the whole affair.
Despite the game having a very charming, sprite-based visual style — a style that works quite well in 3D, might I add — I felt that the game’s presentation could have used a little polish. The main menu screen is a little bare bones, merely listing the levels, with nothing else except the toggle switch for the new blaster after the game is beaten. Also, for a game that relies on beating par times, there’s no option to restart the level from scratch. Rather, you are forced to exit the level each and every time you want to restart. If you’re anything like me when it comes to beating times on levels, you know when you mess up and you’d rather just restart. It wouldn’t have to be mapped to a button, as that could prove to be annoying to accidentally press while on a roll, but its presence in the pause menu would be much appreciated in a title such as this
None of those flaws really take away from how fun the game is, though, and for $6 it’s really hard to argue with its slightly short length. Mighty Switch Force! is not for everyone, but fans of puzzle platformers should have a ball with this title, and much like Pushmo, I hope that games like these open the doors for more developers to start creating more quality downloadable titles for the 3DS.
Front page image and screenshots from wayforward.com/mightyswitchforce.