Continuing the 'Mighty' series, WayForward has brought Patricia Wagon back in Mighty Switch Force! 2 as she continues to do her bit for the world. The cybernetic officer that helped the police force save Planet Land in Mighty Switch Force! is now a fire-fighter tackling the blazes of Tangent City in this sequel, out now on the Nintendo 3DS eShop for £5.
It's Super Mario Sunshine in 2D! Well, that's one of the first things that springs to mind once Patricia Wagon starts spraying her water hose about. A side-scrolling platformer with a difference, Patty's only form of attack is to shoot enemies with her hose, with long button presses spraying water harder and further, and short taps squirting it closer to her. It can wash away dirt blocks to clear a path and shoot through twisty pipes that must be arranged to hit enemies. The likeness to Super Mario Sunshine is apparent, even if it was never intended, but Mighty Switch Force! 2 remains a completely original game, and one that has brought back all of the fun and tricky puzzles of its predecessor.
The main feature that sets this title apart from other platformers is the shape-shifting of the world that can be activated at any time. With one button press, blocks that are in Patty's way can be pushed into the background, whilst others will suddenly appear in front of her. By switching blocks in and out of the background and foreground, great level designs come to fruition, as it forces players into tackling some clever platforming and puzzles. Furthermore, by correctly timing blocks to come into the foreground, enemies can be squashed up against the screen, resulting in a crack appearing on it for a short time. There's no shortage of amusing and creative ideas, here.
What's refreshing with Mighty Switch Force! 2 is how the stages aren't just linear left-to-right sequences; there are some levels that change it up, with Patty starting in the centre of an area and needing to work in all directions to clear the stage. Each one is about locating and saving five of the reformed Hooligan Sisters, as well as the optional very well-hidden Ugly Secret Baby, then making it to the pick-up point to exit the stage.
Some stages last not much more than a few minutes, but each one has a time trial time that can be beaten to unlock extras. While some puzzles can really drag levels out and leave players pondering whether these pre-set times can really be beaten, with a few replays, it's amazing how quickly everything falls into place, and actually storming around a stage, busting through the tricky sections and collecting each sister to set a new record feels nothing short of rewarding.
The only aspect that might be criticised is that once everything is done and dusted, that's really about it. There are 16 stages in total, and whilst that does seem like plenty given the extremely low price tag, it actually feels not enough once the game is beaten; the craving for more is there because the rest of it is so good! Some unlockable levels would have really given much bigger motivation to try and beat the time trial records. The original Mighty Switch Force! on Nintendo 3DS got a free DLC expansion that added more stages to the game, so perhaps the same will happen again in this sequel.
Brilliant level designs and head-scratching puzzles mean this will satisfy many platformer fans. Shape-shifting the world in tandem with precise jumps whilst squirting a water hose at enemies is bizarre, but has been pulled off in a way that nothing feels wrong; it's just fun.
WayForward knows how to sprite. Obviously it's a bump down from the Wii U version of the first game, but the animated characters are full of life and look fantastic on the small screen of the 3DS. More sharp and colourful sprite graphics like these are needed in 2D games! Stereoscopic 3D is used minimally, but effectively to bring the shape-shifting world to attention much better than in 2D.
Energetic with a little bit of everything, the soundtrack is another stand-out part of the game. Who would have thought a little dubstep could work so well in a side-scroller?
There are 16 stages to blast through, each with times to beat and hidden babies to collect, so there are a few hours of content. There is the craving for more when they are done, but it's worth every penny of the price tag.
Mighty Switch Force! 2 continues to provide a very refreshing side-scrolling experience on Nintendo 3DS. It's one of the most addictive platformers on the system, with tricky puzzles and high replayability. It's such a good title that even 16 stages doesn't feel enough, so hopefully some more will become available to download in the future, as was the case with the previous game. Again, like the first Mighty Switch Force!, online leader boards would have been a great feature to have, but for a mere £5, this is a bargain. Mighty Switch Force! 2 deserves a place in any 3DS owner's collection.