Mighty Switch Force taught me two things. Police officers will wear hot pants in the future and WayForward still has clever ideas for the 2D platformer genre. The game follows cybernetic police officer Patricia Wagon who has to capture hidden Space Hooligans. While Patricia has a laser pistol, her most useful tool is the Siren Helmet.
This item changes the world by making some blocks pop out while others collapse in the background. WayForward designed levels around this gimmick so players have to make platformers appear and others vanish. In Mighty Switch Force’s early incidents (read: levels) you get the hang of creating platforms by triggering the Siren Helmet mid-jump. There’s a certain rhythm to the game, which feels similar to double jumping or air dashing in other games. Later levels place walls between platforms so you have to use the Siren Helmet twice in one jump (once to make the wall vanish, once more to make a platform underneath you appear) plus make sure you have enough momentum to clear a gap. The trick is not hugging the wall and timing everything to the arc of your jump.
WayForward also weaved puzzles into the level where Patricia has to guide sentient bomb robots across gaps by making blocks appear and into Launch Blocks. Launch Blocks send walking bombs flying into stones and are also used to blast Patricia throughout levels. After you find all of the Space Hooligans (check stone blocks!) you have to get back to Corporal Gendarmor who will transport you out of the level.
Mighty Switch Force has sixteen incidents to beat, which will probably take you an hour or two (and maybe 15 of those minutes will be spent replaying incident 13). The opening stages feel like tutorial levels, but in the later stages Mighty Switch Force shines when the Switch Helmet mechanics come together. I was hoping for a second set of secret levels when I reached the end, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
Mighty Switch Force sounds like a short game with a brilliant gimmick, right? Kind of. Behind the 3D blocks, Mighty Switch Force is really a time attack game. The goal isn’t completing the incidents, it’s clearing them as fast as possible. WayForward set some tough par times to beat if you’re up for a speedrun challenge. The only thing missing from Mighty Switch Force is a reset stage button. If you want to start over you have to quit and then cycle through the main menu to restart the incident.