In this long generation of console gaming, no genre of games has had quite the resurgence of popularity more so than the humble 2D platformer. Thought to be resigned to the handheld space, Nintendo's Wii brought along with it the blockbuster seller New Super Mario Bros. Wii that would thrust the genre back into the spotlight, and its humble little box also played host to such top titles as Rayman Origins, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby Epic Yarn, Klonoa, and Wario Land, to name but a few. The Wii U, for all its stumbling faults, has respectively carried on this trend straight from the get-go with not only Nintendo's own efforts both previous and upcoming, but from numerous other developers through the eShop. WayForward is one such developer - well renowned for its excellent 2D-based puzzle-platform games that usually take full advantage of their host hardware's visual grunt; Shantae being a key example. For Wii U's launch period, WayForward brought along an enhanced version of the 3DS downloadable title Mighty Switch Force! that was well received, and due to fan requests the same has happened for its sequel. How does Mighty Switch Force 2! fare in the sea of eShop, though?
The first Mighty Switch Force! told the brief story of a police officer called Patricia, who was commissioned to round up a group of escaped convicts across a multitude of levels. The player helped her do this with not only the basic run-and-gun style of gameplay, but also with a 'Switch' function that faded certain blocks in the level in and out of existence to create and unblock paths, defeat enemies that could not be blasted down with the phaser gun, or used as launch pads. Each level also had a timer that was more of a motivator to finish quickly rather than not letting gamers idle about, and each also had a 'Par' time for completionists to try and beat.
Mighty Switch Force! 2 essentially carries over the same gameplay structure to a degree that might be a little too much for some, but with a different backing narrative. This time Patricia is a firefighter with a water pack and hose gun going out to rescue civilians from hazards rather than arresting them. This water pack is the biggest difference between the games as it not only acts as a pressure gun to defeat enemies but also as a tool to wear down obstacles and 'activate' objects in the levels. Beforehand, players simply pushed the action button and Patricia would fire a bullet. Now, though, the water pack's strength is tied to how long the button is held for, starting as a brief squirt amounting to a steady stream of H₂O, which leads to a number of interesting and imaginative puzzles. Aside from the five civilians that need to be rescued per level before being extracted, there is also a small baby to search for that requires more thought to get to yet is never vital for completing the stage. This new element brings a surprisingly satisfying twist to the game that feels all the more gratifying when finding everyone and beating the Par time.
When WayForward brought the first game to Wii U owners, it came in the form of the Hyper Drive Edition, which was essentially the same game with a beautiful Flash-like HD facelift and difficulty level increase. For the sequel, however, whether to save time to satisfy the fans asking for the game or to prioritise other projects in the works, it remains in the chunky sprite-look that the 3DS version has. This is not really a deterrent as such, thankfully, because the game now brings a strong nostalgic resemblance for older gamers, and a more unique look that stands out amongst other eShop titles. It is a shame to see Mighty Switch Force! 2 not carry the clean sharp look of its predecessor, though. The sprites might not fare well on an HD TV, depending on personal perspective, but like all older-looking games it looks simply great on the GamePad for Off-TV play where the option to switch screens is a clear advantage this version has over its handheld equivalent. Aside from the overall look, however, the game is bright, colourful and well animated, with excellent art stills breaking up each level.
Like most of the titles in its development history, WayForward has also composed a highly energetic and satisfying soundtrack for the game, utilising a mixture of classic bit-tune melodies with a pumping score to keep the player motivated. Controls are very flexible for the game with pinpoint D-Pad movement accuracy and a wide choice of pads to use; the GamePad for a Radar screen and Off-TV play, and a Wii U PRO Controller or Wii Classic Controller for more conventional play.
Mighty Switch Force! 2 knows what it is and does its job very well; a conventional single-player puzzle-platformer minus the filler of multiplayer and online play. A couple of dozen levels that steadily climb in difficulty will keep a regular player on their toes, and a platform enthusiast will get a kick out of beating the Par time targets. For fans of the first game, the sequel scratches that itch for more quite adequately, but it won't be the title to convert those unfulfilled by the original.
Tight controls and solid level design complement the 'Switch' mechanic perfectly, with a decent amount of challenge and goals to tempt the most dedicated of purchasers. The Water Pack is a welcome change from the original, but the rest can feel overly familiar at times.
An eye-catching sprite structure that will either appeal or repel purchasers depending on personal perspective. The top-notch animation and colour, however, will soften the blow to a vast degree.
Yet again a solid effort with catchy tunes that blend in seamlessly to the levels, and a sufficient amount of voice work for the main character.
Strictly a single, offline affair, Mighty Switch Force! 2 nonetheless offers a lot for its asking price, especially if willing to try to beat everything it has on offer.
A solid sequel that does just enough to change up the formula without looking like a Downloadable Content Add-On, Mighty Switch Force! 2's Wii U presence is slightly hampered by the lack of visual enhancements its predecessor receive, but that is in no way a reason to miss out on it. A great addition to a growing library of top eShop platform puzzle titles.