Review – Mighty Switch Force 1 and 2 – Charming Hidden Gems

Today, I’d like to talk about a game, technically two, which flew under the radar for most people: Mighty Switch Force 1 and 2. The reason for this is that it isn’t a AAA game made by a huge studio, and being an arcade game available on the 3DS and Wii U doesn’t exactly make it jump out in most people’s eyes. The Mighty Switch Force games have a growing cult following, which is what eventually prompted me to try the game out, after being enticed by the cute artwork. The Mighty Switch Force games are budget platformers that use an eponymous switching mechanic in order for the player to phase blocks in and out of reality. This simple gameplay relies greatly on good level design, and the MSF games mostly succeed. It’s easy to get lost in the big releases and miss these tiny gems. Even some indie games will make massive waves such as Bastion, or Flower, but games like Mighty Switch Force will often go completely unnoticed. This is why I’ve decided to commit today to reviewing them. For the most part, unless I mention otherwise, I will be talking about the first game, and only highlighting the second game’s differences later.

Upper leg garments get in the way of law enforcement.
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The premise of Mighty Switch Force is that your character, officer Patricia Wagon, has to catch several convict sisters who escaped from jail. The premise really doesn’t go far past the artwork, and it’s never entirely clear what’s actually going on. This may sound like a detraction, but it isn’t. All of the best platformers rely almost entirely on crazy for their plots. Mario has to save the princess of mushroom people from a tyrannical king of evil turtles who rule over various creatures from sentient bullets to carnivorous plants. Donkey Kong has to reclaim his banana horde (he cares not for expiration dates) from another giant reptile, who sometimes thinks he’s a pirate, or a doctor, or a boxer. And I don’t even know with Rayman. The concept works for Mighty Switch Force even when they flip it (pun!) in the sequel and have Patricia become a fireman in order to save the same sisters she was catching in the first.

Very charming art style and the 3D on the 3DS version that actually works.
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There are three buttons in Might Switch force. There is one for jumping, one for firing your gun and a final one for switching blocks. This last one is the most important for obvious reasons. You will be shifting blocks in and out of reality so you can effectively platform on them. WayForward uses this mechanic effectively most of the time and manages to make some really solid levels that rely on equal parts quick reflexes and some brain scratching. There are blocks that phase in and out of existence, and coloured blocks, which you can control whether they phase in or out by standing on them, leading to various configurations or colours being active at the same time. Shooting is commonly used to dispatch enemies, but it can also be used for puzzles by blowing up bomb enemies in the right place Altogether it makes for solid platforming.

Phase in those arrow blocks and send yourself flying.
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The objectives in each stage are the same. You must collect the sisters, who will be scattered throughout the stage. When you collect all of these sisters the exit will appear in the form of a robot police vehicle that you’ll use to ride off into the sunset. Each stage has a timer and there is a time target to meet in order to “par” the stage. These time targets can lengthen the rather short game for those who are obsessive and need to do things as fast as you can. Not all stages flow well with a time trial mode, and some are chores to do so, which is occasionally a problem. The reward for making par on each stage is as old school as it gets: an alternate title screen, which may not be enough to push people for some of the harder times.

While it isn’t worth an entire paragraph, the music is actually really good in this game, as are the charming vocals.
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Mighty Switch Force 2 feels more like an expansion to the first game than a sequel, which makes sense. After all, being a budget game means that WayForward isn’t in the position to reinvent the wheel. What they did was make Patricia a fireman, as I mentioned earlier. Of the core gameplay mechanics, they changed her gun to a firehose that fires water in an arc and that’s about it. There are a few new puzzles, particularly the ability to direct water through certain blocks or douse fires off of enemies. Overall, however, the game doesn’t really feel that different, and I would seen them as two parts of the same game. Another new addition is a new objective in the game. On top of par goals, you can now search out for a hidden baby in each level. The reward for collecting all of them is more substantial than the par goals and goes beyond the simple joy of watching Patricia kick the babies to safety.

Now she’s a fireman! Fortunately, her police cruiser mech changed jobs with her.
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Both Mighty Switch Force games are fun and a steal at $5 and $7 respectively. There isn’t a ton of content, but more than enough at that price point. Of the two games, the original is slightly more fun and better designed, but that shouldn’t dissuade people from trying the second. It can be hard to sell a platformer these days, especially on Nintendo’s systems where Mario, Donkey Kong Country, Kirby, and the like are still very popular. However, if you’re hankering for a game that’s a little different and bite sized, then you can do far worse than Mighty Switch Force and I urge you to try them out if you’re a fan of platformers.

Mighty Switch Force Score – 8.5

Mighty Switch Force 2 Score – 8.0

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer.

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