Review: Mechstermination Force (Switch)

A boss rush bonanza that embraces the glory days of run-and-gun games!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/29/2019 20:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Bold aesthetic makes it feel like playing with toys; great character and boss designs; power-ups later in the game helps keep gameplay fresh
Poison Mushroom for...
Difficulty and short length might put off some fans

Cuphead might be a headline stealer thanks to its sharp gameplay and even sharper graphics, but a similar game has come along that also does a fantastic job with boss rush-style, run-and-gun gameplay. Mechstermination Force is that title’s name, which is fresh from the mind of über-creator Bertil Hörberg. Hörberg is the mastermind behind the Gunman Clive series, which is a platforming shooter reminiscent of Capcom’s Mega Man franchise. Much like Gunman Clive, Hörberg has used Mechstermination Force as a platform to expand upon the classic shoot ’em up gameplay of yore with modern graphics and mechanics, making it one of the premier indie games on Switch.

Players can choose between four different characters to tackle the campaign with. There are technically five to choose from, as Gunman Clive himself becomes playable if a save file for Gunman Clive HD Collection is located on the system when booting up the game! The other four soldiers aren’t named, but they’re nonetheless a nice, diverse selection of characters that feel reminiscent of characters like Bill Rizer of Contra while also feeling like all-new, original creations. It’s the sort of diversity that I, as a minority, enjoy; it doesn’t feel pandering or insincere. It’s just a group of cool, unique people with no muss or fuss made about them.

All four of the members of this quartet operate the same, so it makes no difference which one is chosen. Much like the legends of the shooter genre such as Metal Slug and the aforementioned Contra, in Mechstermination Force, the heroes can shoot in all directions up and around them. There’s also the ability to crouch, which comes in handy when tricky bosses employ deadly tactics that make evasion the top priority. Hörberg isn’t content to simply mimic what’s come before however, as the player also has a powerful melee attack to utilize, as well as the ability to upgrade with things like Magnet Gloves, Boost Boots, and more. There’s a profound sense of empowerment bestowed from all of these different weapons and tools which makes battles feel both chaotic and exhilarating.

As a boss rush game, Mechstermination Force doesn’t feature traditional platforming stages. Instead, the towering MegaMechs consume the entirety of each mission. Players must work to topple the mechanical goliaths by targeting glowing red spots on their bodies and destroying them. That might sound simple enough, but there’s a lot more to it than aiming and shooting. The mechs do everything in their power to obscure their weak spots in a variety of different ways. Sometimes these glowing points are tucked behind parts of a mech’s body, while other times the mech must be scaled like a building in order to reach the glowing nodes. Figuring out how to bring down a MegaMech is thrilling and always different, making every battle a joy.

Part of what helps keep the gameplay fresh in Mechstermination Force comes from those aforementioned upgrades. The boss fights take on a whole new dimension when double-jumps and climbing are added to the player’s repertoire of moves. Suddenly, determining how to bring a MegaMech down becomes an even more cerebral exercise. One particularly exhilarating battle had me scaling a mech’s legs to try and hit a spot in its torso from down below, then having to reach its head and fire downwards into plates concealing its weak spots. The creativity on display in Mechstermination Force is on a different level compared to so many other mediocre run-and-gun titles.

Mechstermination Force isn’t the longest game, but that’s no negative, just an observation. There’s nothing wrong with cutting to the chase, and there’s also nothing wrong with a developer focusing on what a game does best as opposed to bolting on extraneous extras. This is a perfect example of all meat on the bone and no fat. It’s fun to imagine Mechstermination Force with actual platforming stages littered with baddies to blast, but ultimately it feels like Hörberg is a master at zeroing on in what best serves the games that he makes. The gauntlet of MegaMechs in Mechstermination Force sucks players in from the outset and never lets go. This is a must for any Switch owner.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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