Game: Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Publisher: WayForward Technologies
Available on: Wii U only
One of the better 3DS titles available from Nintendo’s eShop, Mighty Switch Force takes a very simple central conceit and turns it into one of the most enjoyable head-scratchers available on the handheld. In every way that counts, the Wii U version is the same game, but with a handful of added extras to make it worth revisiting.
For those who haven’t played the original, Mighty Switch Force puts you in control of Patricia Wagon, an enhanced law enforcement officer on the trail of the escaped Hooligan Sisters, a bunch of scantily-clad cons on the lam. The special trick up Patricia’s sleeve is the ability to manipulate objects by phasing them in and out of reality. This allows you to, for example, make a block appear solid so that you can use it to reach a higher level, or make it disappear to reveal the access to a lower level.
Combining this ability with jumping and shooting, you’ll guide Patricia around increasingly intricate levels – or “cases” – avoiding enemies and traps to reach each runaway; collect them all and the level ends with a quick pick-up. The simplistic mechanics really can’t be faulted, and the lack of 3D is barely noticeable thanks to the gorgeous, vibrant HD visuals.
Despite the short, compact stages, the level of challenge is relatively high – especially if you’re looking to beat each level’s “par” time, which will often require nothing short of perfection. Finishing the original game won’t take upwards of 3 hours, but then you’ll unlock the Hyper Drive version of each level. These new stages have basically the same layout, but different themes and extra challenges increase the difficulty and achieving the par times will have you pulling out clumps of hair – though you’ll be enjoying every minute.
Given its former status as a handheld title, playing Mighty Switch Force on the GamePad instead of the TV doesn’t feel like much of a step up, despite the glossier visuals, but the extra levels are the main draw – even if you have to beat the original 16 to unlock them. WayForward Technologies have stayed impressively true to the 3DS iteration and the only changes they’ve made are improvements.
The music (composed by Jake Kaufman) is a perfect fit for the game’s frantic framework and remains untouched, acting as the ideal backdrop to the fast-paced, cartoonish fun. There’s nothing about Mighty Switch Force that isn’t immediately likeable, and even though the difficulty can occasionally leave you scratching your noggin or chewing on your nails, the real joy of the game comes from solving a level initially before retrying it straight away and perfecting it. The innate appeal of WayForward Tech’s game is that it isn’t just immensely playable, it’s immensely re-playable, too.
The lack of any kind of real story is never an issue because the gameplay itself is so pure, and the backdrop of a determined cop chasing down a bunch of hardened criminals (even if these are slightly over-sexualised representations of such) is entirely self-explanatory. Here the premise serves to give the platforming shenanigans some kind of context without ever trying to be deep or complex and, as such, it works like a charm.
VERDICT: There really isn’t anything wrong with Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition. It’s a faithful port of the 3DS version in which the only visible alterations improve the experience. The puzzle elements are perfectly integrated into each multi-levelled stage, and the par times give you the opportunity to make it as challenging as you like.
The only real drawback is that if you’ve already got it on the 3DS, you might not want to play through all 16 levels again to unlock the Hyper Drive versions – but then, why wouldn’t you? As a puzzle-platformer, Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition has everything you want and, particularly if you never played the 3DS version, is well worth downloading from the eShop.