By Robert Ward . June 19, 2013 . 1:00pm
If you’ve played the first Mighty Switch Force!, you’ll know what to expect from Wayforward’s first ever sequel in the Mighty franchise. Like the first game, your primary tool is the Siren Helmet, which lets you phase blocks in and out of existence with the press of a button. You’ll need to strategically wield this helmet to traverse each stage; except this time, you’re here to save the Hooligan Sisters, not incarcerate them.
Additionally, Patricia Wagon’s turned in her badge and laser pistol for a Planet Land Fire Brigade suit and Infinity Dousing Apparatus (Or, you know, hose. Whichever you prefer).
Officer Wagon’s less destructive arsenal leads the game to promote a “progression through suppression” model—that is to say, the puzzles rely more on effective timing and level architecture than rapidly firing the laser pistol to clear the path ahead. New equipment means new puzzles—some old, some familiar. Among the new ones in Mighty Switch Force! 2 are water redirection puzzles.
In some areas, you’ll be able to shoot water through certain blocks to reach areas that house sponge-like enemies carrying a Hooligan Sister, or to wash away blocks that are simply in your way. To make it more challenging (and I mean more challenging), some of these blocks will correspond with different colors you have to lock in or out of existence in order to redirect the water properly. If you don’t think ahead, some areas of Mighty Switch Force! 2 will keep you busy scratching your head for up to ten minutes.
Mighty Switch Force! 2 introduces you to old mechanics like blocks you can lock into existence by standing on them much earlier than the original does—but there’s a cruel twist: instead of two colors of blocks, you now have three to work with. There were parts, especially in Incident 0.13, that depend on making the correct assessments from the beginning of the stage. One misstep and you’ll have to trek all the way back to a block of a given color to reset the puzzle. This element in particular was so strong in Switch Force! 2 that I’d happily say it was the primary focus of its puzzle element, or at least the most challenging aspect.
These elements only seem to make the game a rehash of Mighty Switch Force! if you’re casually playing through the stages, but when you can really start to feel the game’s changes is when you start trying to beat each stage’s par time. Mighty Switch Force! 2 is built around the time attack concept, even more so than its predecessor. That, along with hidden “Ugly Secret Babies” (which I’d look for just to see Patty apathetically punt it to safety), gave it more replay value. Oh, there are unlockables, too—but I won’t spoil them for you.
(That’d be like looking up the video of Samus removing her power suit at the end of Metroid if you were stuck on Mother Brain—in more ways than one.)
Of course, no Mighty Switch Force! game would be complete without the accompaniment of an outstanding soundtrack by Jake “Virt” Kaufman. Truth be told, the music featured in Mighty Switch Force! heavily influenced my decision to pick up a 3DS. Even if some levels in the sequel aren’t as stellar or striking as they were in the first Mighty Switch Force! game, the music made every incident worth looking forward to. With the Mighty Switch Force 2 album now sitting at number one on Bandcamp, it’s easy for me to say that the games’ stellar musical arrangement is the Midas touch that makes the game a little golden nugget in your 3DS library. After all, who doesn’t want Rescue Girl blazing from their 3DS in every public situation?
The soundtrack is great on its own, but when paired with the vibrant, masterfully animated world of Mighty Switch Force!, the passively flirtatious personality of Patty Wagon, and the charmingly aloof Hooligan Sisters, it forms a truly mutually exclusive experience. The game creates a fitting world for the music, and the music forms a fitting backdrop for the world.
Mighty Switch Force! 2 is short, sweet, and to the point. It doesn’t spend as much time introducing you to new puzzles as it does elaborating on the elements that made the first Mighty Switch Force! such a strong platformer, but that shouldn’t detract from the games arguable improvements that make it a yummy, bit(e)-size experience.
Food For Thought:
1. You don’t have to grab the Ugly Secret Baby to get a par time—you can do both separately.
2. With the lock-blocks, remember that whatever you’re standing on won’t phase into the background if you use the Siren Helmet. This will make your experience much, much more fluid.
3. Mighty Switch Force! 2 is a great way to make frustration feel rewarding.
4. If I haven’t said it enough already, consider purchasing the Mighty Switch Force! 2 soundtrack on Bandcamp. Kaufman delivered his promise to make the instrument stems available for remixing due to its success, so if you’re into that, go and try it out!
6. Despite being a $5.99 eshop title, Mighty Switch Force! seemed to garner enough of a following that the expectations for its sequel were more akin to a full-fledged game than a short one. That says something about the potential of Wayforward’s new IP.
7. Beautiful sprite work and an amazing supporting soundtrack makes me dream up a world where Capcom has entrusted Mega Man to Wayforward and Jake Kaufman. Capcom seems to have pressed the “retro trophy” stamp on the blue bomber’s profile, restricting him to making special cameos instead of having fully devoted titles. They trusted Wayforward with DuckTales, which looks phenomenal, so maybe they’ll come to and let them baby another one of their games?