Mighty Switch Force!
3DS Download | WayForward | 1 Player | Out Now | $5.99 / £5.40
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2nd July 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
You control Patricia Wagon, a star officer who is motivated by the thrill of the chase as she must bring in a gang of criminals known as The Hooligan Sisters. They may have avoided prison and set off a nasty enemy force in the process, but they haven't been able to do much for themselves. With the villainous mischief makers still under lock and key figuratively-speaking, you won't have to chase anyone down dark streets at night. Visiting different scenes in a cybernetic city where crime has erupted all over, you will need to use your radar found on the Touch Screen to locate and then apprehend these escaped convicts. Players are not required to gather them up in a specific order as all five members of the group will always be in their pre-determined capture spots from the get-go. Because of the usually logical way things are organized, there's rarely ever a need to do a great deal of planning. However, working out the most efficient way to recover all the criminals takes on importance when you return to levels already completed and go for medal times. So when the game does call for you to plan out your route, you'll want to make sure that you don't have to venture too far backwards to meet up with your supervisor, Corporal Gendarmor, who serves as the exit point.
Accessible controls have you making your way across each environment by using the Circle Pad and jumping across platforms with the B Button. Equipped with your trusty Pellet Shooter, you can defeat the monsters that have popped up as a result of these hooligans escaping with a press of the Y Button. You will also have to use the A Button to activate the blue police beacon located on top of your helmet. What this does, in keeping with the name of the game, is flip platforms from a visible to invisible state in order for you get to where you need to go. These aren't just for getting you to higher ground, though. In some areas, you will actually have to use these with correct timing to squish enemies and cause explosions or, in the case of the shielded creatures, open up a locked gate. This beacon can also be used to bring out launchers that propel you in the direction indicated. In both these cases, while action is at the forefront of the gameplay mechanics present, there's also a puzzle element introduced that adds value and great interest. This is just one area where the game shows off its extremely pleasing level design.
Further areas of smart level design are seen throughout, at times showing signs of retro inspirations without being overly in-your-face about it. Monsters in this game aren't just meant to be swept away, but are included in the overall design in a way that's maybe not dignifying but certainly appreciated in the context of purposeful design where everything exists for a clear reason and not just filler. There are times where you will need to use explosions created from bomb enemies to destroy blocks of stone that not only block your path, but may also be concealing one of the criminals you're after. Players will go from trapping an enemy with Patricia's switch-triggering abilities to actually helping it get across to an opposite end. You may even have enemies accompany you somewhere, as seen when you need to launch both yourself and an enemy using separate yet side-by-side launchers. Naturally, this is done for your long-term benefit, but just in the way the game incorporates enemies into the mix brings with it brief moments of entertainment and satisfaction.
In discussing other aspects of the game's design, you can tell that much thought was given as to how well-suited they were going to tailor the difficulty level. And I must say that even though I originally thought less of the attribute I'm about to describe, in the end the difficulty factor never ever becomes a turn-off, and we have the following features to thank for that. The first is the presence of checkpoints, represented by what's referred to as the "Ugly Twitching Dog". Charming? Yes. But more than that, this canine's appearances are always appropriate for setting benchmarkers for players to return to after just getting past a trying area. Without the regulation of this feature in particular, levels where you have to do a lot of launching would lean towards becoming tedious for the reason that you'd have to backtrack and lose progress as you jump down from a higher point.
Adding to all of that is a life system that keeps it simple by giving you three hearts to work with while also being an acceptable element to benefit from. The game is a bit generous with its presence of life pick-ups (digital cards), but when it comes to the loss of life over minor errors in judgment resulting from quick reflex button changes, the game shows itself to be reasonable in not allowing every trap and possible mistake to result in your dear end even when you're on your last life. Once again, I at first thought this to be a bit of a stretch, but as I progressed further into the experience, my appreciation for it grew as it became something that helped ground my feet firmly in the experience, preventing me from giving any thought that was even closely associated with wanting to give up. Along with the elements just described, the ruling addiction factor present in this experience makes leaving prematurely practically impossible.
In a game space where everything comes together with such refinement that the projected feelings of excitement become naturally inclusive and recognizable, Mighty Switch Force is an irresistibly joyous experience. WayForward is to be truly commended for all the hard work they've done in connection with this game, and there is one prime reason why I feel such praise is deservedly necessary. Not only does this game grab you really, really fast, but it makes you want to be a part of the game world, developing a desire to actually take on Patricia's role as though it were your own. Mighty Switch Force is like a surprise box on your front porch with decorations that you can't take your eyes off of and an accompanying card that expresses apologies for any emotional pain that has arisen over being disappointed or even burned by games of recent memory. Yes, with heaps of charm that carries an underlying warmth to it, Mighty Switch Force feels like a gift made specially for you.
I sensed all sorts of positive vibes emitting from this game, from touches both big and small. As an example of the former, the game's graphics are a sight to behold with layered backgrounds that are inspiring, as well as both foreground elements and sprite work that you'd be hard-pressed to complain about. An example of the latter would be when enemies (or even you, yourself) are caught in front of a switchable platform when it becomes active. The resulting squish effect will push the character up against the screen and produce a glass-cracking visual effect that becomes especially noticeable due to the notable use of 3D in this game. But you know, as great as these attributes are, what's truly amazing is Mighty Switch Force's soundtrack in the way that it seamlessly immerses you into the experience and never lets go. In many ways unconventional through its eclectic craft of stylized themes with a palpably invigorating tone, the music in this game feels highly retro-inspired whilst still remaining original and bringing with it feelings of excitement thanks to some happy hardcore themes. With the flair of a Michael Jackson track that you can't resist dancing to, Mighty Switch Force is inundated with fantastic audio and visual treats that everyone will absolutely respond to.
Content-wise, the game features a total of 16 stages with five bonus stages extending the experience for a bit longer. Thanks to the presence of difficult medal times, players should have no trouble convincing themselves to continue playing even after the final boss has been defeated and the gang has been rounded up. Despite being on the shorter side, it makes a really strong case as to why you should get involved nevertheless. Even if it only lasts, what, 2 to 4 hours, it will be some of the most enjoyable hours you can have on the eShop, I kid you not. And with great drive existing to continue playing for as long as possible, even to the point of wanting to start over and do it all over again, you won't easily shake the effect that Mighty Switch Force has on you both during and after the experience.
Immediately stunning in form, design, and impact, Mighty Switch Force rises above both Mighty Flip Champs and Mighty Milky Way, commands the stage with an in-your-face attraction, and goes so far as to tell them who's boss. Owning its funky personality in a way that will quickly convince you that it has the sincerity of a true friend, it would be a crime to overlook what is an essential downloadable experience. While not perfect, Mighty Switch Force demonstrates excellence in its components to create such a firm grip on players that it simultaneously communicates the core essence of what a videogame is supposed to be.
28/30 - Excellent
Gameplay 9/10 - Great controls that are easy to get into, level design satisfies on multiple levels, elements to the core design are thoughtful and purposeful
Presentation 10/10 - Players will respond to touches both big and small, environments are inspiring and look great in 3D, amazing soundtrack
Enjoyment 5/5 - Very exciting to play thanks to the game's design, feels warm and special, highly immersive, develop a desire to live in the created world
Extra Content 4/5 - Not a long experience but still highly enjoyable, bonus stages, will definitely want to go back to completed levels and aim for medals
Equivalent to a score of 93% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System