Over the past two years the Nintendo 3DS e-shop has quietly matured into a home for a number of high calibre games.
Sneaking in at the tail end of 2012 was Way Forward’s Mighty Switch Force, the tale of cyborg enforcer Patricia Wagon and her attempt to round-up some naughty escaped prisoners. The game’s challenging combination of action, puzzling and platforming made it an immediate hit and an early flag bearer for the console’s downloadable service. It also made waves due to its retro aesthetic and genuinely effective use of 3D.
Hopes for Mighty Switch Force 2 were high and it’s pleasing to say that Way Forward’s sequel retains the style, exuberance and energy of the original.
The core game-play is fundamentally the same but a number of new features make this a distinct and worthy follow up. This time round Patricia’s laser had been replaced with a water hose gun, its effect on enemies remains the same but it requires a little more nuance to control, the arc of the jet often needing the gentle touch.
The hose gun’s abilities are directly tied to the new environmental additions. The 3D block switching mechanic returns, but there are also new block types that can be burned or melted or, most impressively, used to direct your shots through a network of pipes.
These new features are interesting in themselves, but it’s when they are combined that Mighty Switch Force 2 comes into its own, creating an array of challenging and inventive scenarios that require a heady mix of dexterity and foresight.
Like its predecessor, Mighty Switch Force 2 is not a long game, but it still manages to provide variety. Some levels are linear action pieces, others focused around arena type exploration. But although short, replay value is assured. Each level has cruelly set par completion time that at first seems impossible, but with practice (and a good memory) can be overcome. There’s also a hard to find baby to rescue in each level, as you do.
Visually and aurally the game is top class. The sprite based visuals are gorgeous (again beautiful in 3D) and Jake Kaufman returns with another excellent score that shoves a rocket up the 16-bit era. There’s also some brief but delightful voice-work, with Patricia’s natty one-liners always providing a smile.