Mighty Switch Force! for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U
The online offerings for the Nintendo 3DS eShop are one of the great unsung strengths of the system, with Mighty Switch Force being one of the better known games on offer. Mighty Switch Force is certainly a fun little game, but oddly lightweight, lacking the intricate joy of PullBlox or the devilish platforming fun of Mutant Mudds.
Mighty Switch Force has very little in the way of a plot, with the player taking on the role of cyborg police officer by the name of Patricia Wagon as she rounds up escaped convicts.
The developers of this game, WayForward Technologies, are American, but the style of the game feels very Japanese. The level backgrounds reminded me very much of Mega Man, with the anime inspired character design making giving this game a distinctly 1990s Japanese sci-fi style. Now, this style isn’t used in any particularly interesting ways, but that it was nice nonetheless.
Mighty Switch Force takes the player through a few levels in which the objective is to discover the convicts before being picked up in her giant robot mech thingy. The actual jumping is awkward and imprecise, with the inclusion of a blaster leading to a highly unsatisfying (and unnecessary) combat mechanic. Where this game sets itself apart from other games in the field is in its ‘shifting’ mechanic, where certain blocks can be bought in and out of existence with a touch of a button, to create new blocks for jumping, or to smash enemies out into the screen. This can get fairly intricate, with several ‘shifts’ sometimes needed within a single jump, as well as becoming fairly tricky. It’s a simple mechanic, but a really fun one, with complications such as blocks which can launch the player (or bombs) in particular directions adding to the intricacy.
Sadly, there really isn’t that much in this game, with relatively few short levels making this game feel very lightweight. There’s a lot of incentive for replaying, with ‘par times’ for each level offering time challenges for those who are into that sort of thing.
The presentation for this game is silly and charming. The sparkly catch phrases of the main character managed to fall on the side of whimsical rather than annoying, with the sound effects giving many of the actions a satisfying edge. The music is a joy, with that high synth energy which was the trademark of the 1990s SNES or Mega Drive platformer. Combined with fluid animation and a lovely crisp art style, this is a really slick looking and sounding package.
Mighty Switch Force is a lot of fun whilst it lasts, but that sadly just isn’t long enough. Nintendo have previously been reluctant to offer sales on its digital content, as Microsoft and Sony do on Xbox Live and PSN, but they seem to be dipping their feet in the waters on Wii U, and if you spot this on sale, either the 3DS original or the Wii U HD update, I’d recommend giving this a go, but it just isn’t quite worth the full price.