WayForward Technologies has built a reputation for themselves as a quality purveyor of 2D titles, both with their own IPs (the “Mighty” series, Shantae, etc.) and as a go to developer for licensed products (A Boy and His Blob, Contra IV, etc.) Sure, they release a few bombs, especially in the licensed arena, but the sheer amount of quality 2D games that they have developed over the years has put WayForward on the radar of most fans of the second dimension. Their loosely connected “Mighty” series has particularly stood out with some of the most consistently high-quality games on the Nintendo download services, including games on the DSiWare service (Mighty Flip Champs!, Mighty Milky Way), the 3DS eShop (Mighty Switch Force!), and a Wii U port (Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition.) Mighty Switch Force! 2 is the first sequel in the esteemed “Mighty” series; does it live up to the legacy of the name?
Water versus fire. An elemental struggle as old as time itself.
If you haven’t played the original Mighty Switch Force!, it was a 2D platformer / puzzle / shooter that put you in the role of Patricia Wagon, a police officer tasked with capturing a group of escaped convicts known as the Hooligan Sisters. One of the first things you will notice about Mighty Switch Force! 2 is that Patricia has left her job as an officer of the law to become a firefighter (rendering her previously clever name an anachronism?) to focus her time on putting out fires and rescuing civilians. The Hooligan Sisters are also back, and they must have duly served their time, because they are no longer escaped convicts that need to be captured, but innocents that need to be saved from the raging fires.
Mighty Switch Force! 2 controls fairly identical to the original, which is to say, relatively standard, yet smooth 2D action / platformer controls. The only real change is that instead of a gun you now have a water cannon, and holding down the shoot button leads to a steady stream of water. As with the original, I had a few minor difficulties with the way that the game sometimes demands some quick movement between the various buttons to jump, shoot, and switch platforms, but for the most part the controls are pure 2D goodness.
On the presentation side, things have remained fairly consistent. WayForward always creates some crisp, beautiful 2D graphics, and Mighty Switch Force! 2 is no exception, although I would have liked to see a bit more differentiation from the art of the first game. The 3D effect pops nicely, which is definitely a good thing, as the gameplay relies on it. And Jake Kaufman is back with another upbeat electronic soundtrack, composing some excellent tunes, as always.
Someone has to rescue all of the "babes" out there!
The gameplay of Mighty Switch Force! 2 is very similar to the first game. In addition to jumping and shooting, you have a button that will “switch” (hence the name of the game) certain platforms and other objects from the background to the foreground, and vice versa. This switching mechanic is at the core of the vast majority of the gameplay, and manifests itself both in challenging reflex-based platforming, as well as several tricky puzzles to solve.
The platforming side of things hasn’t really changed much, other than having to put out some fires at times, including a new “stove” type platform which will reignite itself quickly after being extinguished. The enemy types remain pretty familiar as well, and although my memory of the original game is a tad bit foggy, the game seems to have downplayed enemy interactions to focus more on the platforming and puzzles. Many of the puzzles still involve maneuvering an enemy to his or her demise in order to progress, however. Other returning elements include red and blue switches that you can lock down by standing on, and purple switches that can propel you through the air.
Mighty Switch Force! 2 has a few new elements to mix things up as well. In addition to using your water cannon to attack enemies, it is also used in conjunction with pipes to redirect water, and many of the puzzles that use this element are some of the most creative that the series has seen yet. A green lock switch has been added to go along with the red and blue lock switches, adding another dimension to the lock switch puzzles. Unfortunately this is about it for the new additions, and as they don’t really appear until later in the game, you’ll be treading through a bit of familiar territory before experiencing them.
Apparently this is how water works. Who knew?
Another addition that is much appreciated is the optional rescue of a single baby in each stage, which generally adds a degree of challenge beyond that which is seen in the required parts of the game. This additional challenge can take the form of platforming, puzzle solving, or both. The rescue is accompanied by a hilarious (if very wrong) sound bite and animation; I’ll let you experience this for yourself without spoiling it.
Much like Mighty Switch Force! before it, Mighty Switch Force! 2 is a very short game. It took me about 2.5 hours to complete all 16 stages (the same number of stages as the original game), and another hour to rescue all of the babies that I did not save my first time through. The amount of content in the original game felt light at the time, and I had hoped that WayForward would have tried to make this sequel a meatier package, but alas, that was not to be. Mighty Switch Force! 2 once again has “par” times for each stage that you can challenge yourself against, but with no online leaderboards, my motivation to work at my times was not very strong. The original Mighty Switch Force! eventually received free DLC that added 5 more stages to the game, boosting its short length a bit, and I can only hope that something like this is in the works for Mighty Switch Force! 2.
Although I did enjoy the original Mighty Switch Force!, I felt at the time that it was much too short and didn’t fully develop its core switching mechanic enough, and I came into the sequel looking for WayForward to take their excellent concept and give it the execution that it deserves. Unfortunately, Mighty Switch Force! 2 is a relatively safe sequel that, despite some additions stemming from Patricia’s new role as a firefighter, feels a lot like the original game, including the short length and limited amount of stages. Mighty Switch Force! 2 is still a fun game, and some of the firefighting elements add that burst of freshness at times, but I can really only fully recommend it to fans of the first who need more and don’t mind paying $5.99 (NA) for a couple of hours of gameplay. Everyone else may want to wait and see if some free DLC is in the works again first.
I'll probably check this out soon enough. I'm trying to whittle down my backlog of 3DS platformers, starting with Rayman Origins, and then taking down Mutant Mudds and the original Mighty Switch Force!.
Even if this game was more of the same, I think it'd be worth it.
Btw, what's the difference between a score of 8.0 and 8.1?
We have a range of scores within each category, thus allowing the reviewer some flexibility. For instance, I think both Mighty Switch Force! games are "great" games, but I scored this one slightly lower than I scored the original game, as it feels very familiar in a lot of ways and the new additions aren't quite enough to make it feel like a solid step forward.
I think going after the par times is the real meat of these games. It's fun learning the levels in order to get through them as quick as possible. While using the cheater OP fire hose that blasts through everything in its path, of course.
And just like the first game, you get sexy time title screen for beating all the par times : p
Here is how I feel about that though... that this game isn't any more ideal as a time trial game than any other platformer, really, despite WayForward stressing that as a big element of it. In fact, I'd probably argue that something like Mario or DKCR has more potential as a time trial game because they have a better sense of flow / rhythm. Adding a time trial mode into a platformer is just kind of standard stuff nowadays, especially in these indie games, and in my eyes it doesn't really excuse the shortness of the game itself.
Plus some of the stages that are "maze-like" are just kind of annoying to do as a time trial. It's less about skill at that point, and more about memorizing.
Sort of? But you won't earn Golds unless you memorize when to roll short jump and when to roll full jump because a lot of the time you have to be jumping to land on enemies that aren't even on-screen yet.
@Het_Nkik I know, but to me there is a difference between saying "you need to do this to get the best possible times" versus "you need to do this to get any kind of reasonable time, period". I can jump right into DKCR stages and feel like I'm at least doing pretty well without any huge roadblocks, whereas in games that have puzzles or maze-like sections, you just hit that wall and think oh, yeah, I kind of have to memorize this part before even thinking of doing a real time trial here...
That's been my experience with time trial games, anyway.
There's still a lot of memorization in something like DKCR but it's kind of a combination of skill, muscle memory, and level memory, whereas something like MSF is mostly the latter, with the former only sprinkled in here and there (some jumps and switch timing can be really strict, but they're few and far between).
I hear that.
But I still have fun going through levels in MSF as fast as I can.