Mighty Switch Force!
: WayForward Technologies
: WayForward Technologies
: Nintendo 3DS
: December 22nd, 2011
The talented developers at WayForward have outdone themselves yet again. With outstanding downloadable games such as Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Mighty Flip Champs, and Mighty Milky Way, WayForward presents their next addition to the Mighty series with Mighty Switch Force! A combination of platforming and puzzle solving that truly tests the skills of anyone who plays the game.
Players take on the role of Officer Patricia Wagon. Officer Wagon is a cybernetic enhanced police officer who uses her gifts to keep evil doers at bay. Armed with her trusty laser blaster and her amazing Siren Helmet, there’s no escaping Officer Wagon when she’s on the job. Lately there’s been a bunch of no good, dirty rotten scoundrels on the loose and they call themselves the “Hooligan Sisters.” The Hooligan Sisters are found throughout each stage in the game, and it’s up to Officer Wagon and Corporal Gendarmor, a mobile mech unit that transports Patricia away from each of her missions, to find the sisters, and toss them right back in jail before they can continue wreaking havoc across the city. Only you can help Patricia ensure that justice prevails.
Mighty Switch Force marks the first game developed and published by WayForward that takes advantage of the 3DS’s 3D feature. For WayForward’s first effort into the new format, yet again they introduce a clever and polished looking game that’s easy on the eyes. Previous games from the developers have given us original and memorable female leads, and Officer Patricia Wagon keeps that tradition going. The environments that Patricia explores are also a dazzle to behold on your 3DS. Shapes and colors in the foreground and background bring the game to life, more so given that particular objects, such as blocks, can move between the background and foreground with the 3D feature enabled. If you’re one who’s not too into the whole 3D thing, Mighty Switch Force won’t worry you with eye strain. You can always disable the feature, but it looks just as neat with the feature enabled even at its lowest setting.
You really do have to hand it to WayForward. Their games deliver very well in each area that makes a video game a real good one. One such area of talent is in sound and music. Patricia comes with her own set of vocals that personify the futuristic cop she is. “Gotcha!”, “Let’s go!”, “Justice served!”, “Switch it up!” is just some of Patricia’s exclamations that are peppered throughout the game.
Where Mighty Switch Force really shines though is in its music. There’s no doubt that games that have come before Mighty Switch Force have chimed out some great original music. The music heard throughout the game is by far the best in the “Mighty” series of games. You’re not doing the game’s soundtrack justice if you’re not playing the game while using a pair of headphones. It really does improve the experience all the more better and is something I would highly recommend doing when playing the game.
If you’ve played neither Mighty Flip Champs nor Mighty Milky Way, you might see how Mighty Switch Force could be taken for an action, platforming game by watching footage of it. In fact the game, like the games aforementioned, is a combination of platforming but a primary focus on puzzle solving.
Mighty Switch Force features a total of 16 playable stages in which the player must track down the escaped criminals, the “Hooligan Sisters” and lock them right up again in jail. Patricia is dispatched to the area of their whereabouts and must face a series of challenging puzzles to locate each sister and catch them in as little time as possible. For each stage a “Par” time is displayed, in other words, you can compete against yourself for the best time possible to beat what the CPU is demanding from you. Though, unless you’ve seen someone else play the game, going into the game for the first time will have you taking your time to solve puzzles and get yourself acclimated with the controls.
The gist of the game, including its controls, are simple to understand from the get go. Patricia’s Siren Helmet functions as the game’s ability to let you “switch” blocks from the foreground and background interchangeably, hence Mighty Switch Force. You can distinguish between blocks easily as they will have a particular appearance when the 3D feature is enabled. Passive blocks appear faded as they lie low in the background, but active, solid blocks will appear to be popping out of the screen. Blocks can either be hindrances or tools to aid you in completing a mission. For example, a solid wall of blocks can appear before you, blocking your path, but “switching” using Patricia’s Siren Helmet will instantly make the blocks fade into the background to allow for passage. As simple as the idea seems, soon enough you’ll be presented with some very clever puzzles that will test not only your depth perception but also you’re platforming, twitch reflexes, and timing. Often all these abilities will be tested all at once! Succeeding only adds to the satisfaction that you’re getting through the stage as best you can, and it looks impressive when you have it down pat.
Each Hooligan Sister can be tracked by using the lower screen of the 3DS. The lower screen acts as a radar of sorts, but is also known as the “Hooligan Tracker.” The tracker will always emphasize the location of the nearest sister in your proximity. The concept is easy to use and goes a long way to shave seconds off the clock if time trials are your kind of thing. When all five Hooligan Sisters are recovered Corporal Gendarmor will show up on the stage to pick up Patricia and finish the stage. He basically acts as the finish line for each stage. Again you can use the Hooligan Tracker to figure out where Corporal Gendarmor has landed in the stage, and once you make contact, the timer stops.
Along the way you may occasionally make mistakes, but who doesn’t? That’s why there’s a few checkpoints positioned around each stage and they are marked by the “Ugly Checkpoint Dog”, awww, yeah that’s what he’s apparently referred to. So if you see the pup hanging around the stage, passing by will automatically trigger your checkpoint and bring you back to that area if you make a mistake. It’s not just puzzles you’ll be solving, as there are a variety of baddies trying to slow your progress, or even stage hazards can slow you down, but getting trapped in a block by accidentally switching at the wrong time is the worst thing you can do.
With 16 stages total you can zip through Mighty Switch Force in less than an hour, even faster if you’re good at speed runs or time trials. That’s where the game’s replay value lies. Shortcuts exist in each stage and all are waiting to be found out and used to your advantage. The Par times for each stage can be intimidating at first, even near impossible before you absolutely start understanding how the game is played. Part of the fun is trying to break the game’s record, and even your own once you manage to beat the clock. Though once you’ve accomplished these demanding tasks, there’s not much more to do in the game. It’s a shame because with a new handheld peripheral as the 3DS, and its capabilities, it would have been great to see Mighty Switch Force take advantage of these capabilities such as including an online leader board, or some kind of clever idea with the 3DS’s StreetPass or SpotPass features. In any case, that’s something to consider for the future for this great line of games.
**As of May 24, 2012, Mighty Switch Force has released an update. Now five new levels have been added to the exisiting game. Additionally, there is a new stereoscopic 3D display that augments the graphics better than before. The game has also included a "retry" option directly in the pause menu, which was unavailable before. Not bad. The only thing is you have to download the full game all over again instead of a patch. Still, that's pretty cool. Your time with Officer Patricia Wagon is not over yet!
Although Mighty Switch Force can be zipped through in about an hour, don’t let that discourage you. This is one great game to play if you own a 3DS. Anyone who enjoys a good time trial challenge in video games has a great reason to play the game. The complete package that WayForward put together to make Mighty Switch Force is a highly distinguished one, and they’re quite talented for what they bring to the video game industry because of it. The price tag for the game isn’t bad either. I really enjoyed going back to beat the game’s time and even so when I returned to beat my own record time to set a new one. Mighty Switch Force is one of the best games designed for the 3DS’s 3D feature and I highly recommend logging into the Nintendo E Shop to give the game a download!