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Mighty Switch Force! – PC

Mighty Switch Force! – PC

msfhde boxPlatform: PC

Developer: WayForward Technologies

Publisher: WayForward Technologies

Release Date (WW): June 25th, 2015

Genre: ActionPlatformerPuzzle

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

There aren’t many well-known puzzle games these days that aren’t something in the style of Tetris, Bejeweled, or similar mix-and-match games. Those that do exist tend to be overlooked, regardless of quality, as they sit in the shadows of cultural giants. Mighty Switch Force! is one of these overlooked gems, though it has gotten enough recognition and love that it merited not only a free expansion of five bonus levels, but also an updated re-release on PC and Wii U: Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition.

The story for Mighty Switch Force! isn’t very complex, being set up in just one brief scene at the start of the game. You play as Patricia Wagon, a mechanically-enhanced police officer partnered with a fully robotic transport officer named Corporal Gendarmor, as she rounds up the five Hooligan Sisters that escaped on their way to jail. The Hooligan Sisters release numerous monsters, complicating matters, but nothing will stand in Patty Wagon’s way. As simple and straightforward as the story is, it does its job and quickly gets you into the game itself.

Jump, Switch and Shoot your way to those criminal scum!

Jump, Switch and Shoot your way to those criminal scum!

Officer Wagon is armed with a plasma pistol and a helmet siren. The former can fire rapidly, with no notable hard limit on how many shots can appear on screen, but the latter is what most of the game revolves around. Most buttons or keys are dedicated to this, in fact, so that you can use it however is most comfortable for you. The helmet siren allows Patricia to manipulate blocks in the level. The different kinds of blocks in this game make up the various puzzle sequences, combining together to form complicated, but quick tasks.

Every level, you have to round up the five Hooligan Sisters and return to wherever Corporal Gendarmor has landed. To my eternal frustration, Gendarmor seems to enjoy landing in hard-to-reach places, giving Patricia one more puzzle to solve before she can return to base after the first few levels. As said above, the Sisters also released monsters when they escaped, creating more obstacles in the way of rounding them up.

Patty has three hit points, dying in a manner akin to Samus Aran of Metroid if she loses all of them. The enemies may be an obstacle, as with the spike pits placed here and there, but the biggest threat to Patty is herself. Whenever you bring a non-launcher block to the foreground, if you’re in its space you’ll be smacked into the game’s screen, losing one hit point and respawning at the last checkpoint you tagged.

Levels are usually a couple minutes long at most, coming in bite-sized chunks. They all have a “par” time, which is a challenge time set by the game creators. Beating all sixteen Incident levels unlocks the five Bonus levels, which were added to the initial game for free when fans complained that it was too short. Even that wasn’t enough, though, as the PC and Wii U ports also include remixes of all twenty-one previous stages that unlock after beating the bonus levels, changing them to become much harder. Some of these difficulty changes are in the form of obstacles or threats that can get Patty killed, while others are threats to completing the par times for these levels.

It’s a fun challenge to try to par most levels, though a couple of them can be trying on a gamer’s patience. Given the built-in speed challenges, it’s to be expected that this game has a substantial speed-runner fan base, and can even make speed-runners of those who normally prefer to take their time with things. The addition of the Hyper levels can be a little intimidating, but if there’s anything I would’ve wanted from this game it would’ve been more of it.

Another unlock, which opens up at the same time as the Bonus levels, is the Mega Blaster. This is a blessing for anyone wanting to par certain missions, trading a large rate of fire for sheer, unending firepower; the large blasts from this gun only stop of they smack into a wall or a solid block, ripping through breakable walls and enemies without even breaking stride. It does knock Patty back a little, but just time your shots to compensate and you’ll be fine.

What? Not your idea of a perfect get-away? Nonsense!

What? Not your idea of a perfect get-away? Nonsense!

Taking the Mega Blaster and running through an old puzzle at a leisurely stroll is unexpectedly relaxing, as well; simply dominating a stage at your own pace, fast or slow, showing complete mastery over things. It’s almost like a miniature vacation, really, which makes this one of my go-to series when I need to lose some stress.

One thing that could be done to make Mighty Switch Force!‘s gameplay even better would be to allow the player to zoom in and out on Patricia. While you can move the camera to look around, it would help greatly to see the whole level on some of the more labyrinthine launcher levels.

Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition replaces all the pixelated graphics of the 3DS version with drawn sprites in a cartoony style, which works well with the sillier mood the game presents. Everything looks good, and you can tell what things are and what they’re doing immediately.

The music behind Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition is surprisingly catchy. It may not seem very impressive at first pass, but as you run a level over and over or drive through the scenarios and puzzles one by one, the songs do something very important: they never get annoying. They never wear on you or become a nuisance. In addition, some of these songs can get stuck with you after you set the game down, leaving a strong and enjoyable impact on players.

Although it might be normal for sci-fi settings, I guess?

I suppose it might be normal for sci-fi settings.

Perhaps my biggest gripe with Mighty Switch Force! as a whole is the fanservice-oriented character designs. Patricia’s uniform is not exactly what I’d call police standard, nor are the Hooligan Sisters all dressed as decently as one would expect from convicts. At least the cartoony graphics avoid making this overt sexualization, though it still seems more than a little odd. It’s not as big of a problem as it could be, but it’s there.

So, despite a couple of minor issues, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition is a fun game that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys playing platformers and exercising their brain a bit. Even the 3DS version, which is a little over half the price of the PC release, is a good buy, though with only a few dollars’ difference the extra levels are worth it in my eyes. Go on patrol with Officer Patricia Wagon and see how fast you can round up the criminals!

Written by Nerd Bacon

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