In sixteen levels, Mighty Switch Force 2 made me reconsider if I'm actually any good at games.
The downloadable game had me suiting up as Patricia Wagon, a former police officer who uses her firehose-like Infinity Dousing Apparatus and block-switching Siren Helmet to put out fires across Planet Land. Each level is full of different blocks with various purposes and effects, but Mighty Switch Force 2 is good about teaching you how each block is used in order to get through each level. Using both game mechanics and my own rusty reflexes, I doused, shifted, and jumped my way across each level, finding each of the five Hooligan sisters and a single Ugly Secret Baby. Take a hit or meet a pit, lose a heart. Lose three hearts and you start at the beginning of the level again.
I was able to polish off most of the levels on the first try, so you're probably wondering where the difficulty lies.
Well, Mighty Switch Force is at its heart a time attack game. All sixteen levels have a par time, ranging from one to two minutes. The closest I got to par time was 53 seconds. Many of my times were four, five, and six minutes more than the par time. And that's without trying to get many of the Ugly Secret Babies, which represent an extra challenge for players.
Many times I was cruising along, thinking I was doing pretty well, only to look up in the top left corner of the screen and see my timer speeding past the par time. It's not Battletoads hard, but it'll either push you to be better or make you question the skills you thought you had deep within. Certain types of people play time attack games like this; they're the same types of people that play bullet hell shooters or Dark Souls. They see the mountain and they want to climb it. I'm not that guy.
Beyond that, a slavish focus on beating times, reaching hard achievements, or playing certain extra hard game modes requires a certain affinity for the game you're playing. I've been there with SSX, Mark of the Ninja, or Splinter Cell. There's that moment where you're enjoying the game, you see the trophy just out of your grasp, and you think, "I can reach that." I never had that moment with Mighty Switch Force 2. I'm pretty sure most of those par times are completely out of my reach, and so my desire to replay the game over and over again is diminished.
On the bright side, as you're soaring past each level's par time, you'll be treated to some solid 2D animation with a great soundtrack. Composer Jake Kaufman did amazing job on the game's soundtrack and it's worth noting that you can buy the entire thing – name your price – on Kaufman's Bandcamp page. Paired with Kaufman's music, the graphics make me feel like I'm playing a classic Sega Genesis game. The nostalgic feeling is one of the reasons I dived into each level again and again, despite my continued failure.
At sixteen levels, one could call Mighty Switch Force short. Finishing every level rewards you with a powered-up version of the Infinity Dousing Apparatus and that's about it. The time attack nature of the game is key to its longevity, making it closer to a golf or driving game than a straight-forward platform or puzzle game. If that's not something that intrigues you, than Mighty Switch Force 2 may not be your jam. That said, Wayforward made a solid game and at $5.99, it's worth it if you're up for the challenge.
I certainly wasn't.
The Nitty Gritty
- Visuals: Decent sprite work from Wayforward with some great animation. Unfortunately, most of the game is square blocks. Nothing to write home about.
- Music: Excellent, Kaufman puts together a soundtrack that's worth the price of the game alone.
- Interface: Simple controls that get out of your way and let you fail at your own pace. Menus are straightforward, as you're going to be playing the same levels again and again.
- Lasting Appeal: As a time attack game, replayability is the main focus. Beating levels isn't too hard, it's getting below those elusive par times that'll kill you.
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