Review: Mighty Switch Force! 2

Although brief, WayForward’s latest is charming and inventive.

By Po-Yi Ho. Posted 07/02/2013 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Brilliant and creative gameplay
Poison Mushroom for...
Unexplored potential

Mighty Switch Force 2 is like an introductory course numbered 101: all breadth, little depth. There is nothing inherently wrong with breadth, but as a sequel to a great game, Mighty Switch Force 2 does not deliver the depth and polish expected from gifted developer WayForward.

In Mighty Switch Force 2, you control a fire fighter capable of rescuing stranded damsels and crying babies in a fiery, post-apocalyptic world. There are close to twenty stages in all and in each stage, you must rescue five distressed victims to unlock the exit. To do so, you must fight fires and enemies with your water gun and solve puzzles with your ability to bring elements in and out of the foreground from the background.

These two mechanics make up the core gameplay in Mighty Switch Force 2. On their own, the mechanics are fun but predictable. For example, some enemies have face plates immune to your water gun, so you must attack them from behind, and some locations are unreachable unless you switch a block from the background to the foreground. But together, these mechanics shine. For example, to get by the enemy with waterproof face plates, you can bring a block from the background to the foreground right on top of the enemy, destroying it immediately.

There are also blocks that can direct water flow, letting you solve pipe puzzles with your water gun. The game also boasts other clever peripheral mechanics that create brilliant puzzles. The most memorable puzzles involve colored blocks that do not switch between the background and the foreground if you stand on blocks of the same color. The parity introduced by the colored blocks sometimes forces you to switch blocks from the background to the foreground in midair, creating real-time action in an otherwise self-paced game.

With each stage clocking in approximately ten minutes on the first pass, the game lasts at most five hours, time well worth the game’s $5.99 price tag. Although incomplete, Mighty Switch Force 2 mitigates its brevity with its creativity and challenging replayability. Each stage hosts one terrorized baby in an elusive location, often challenging to find or to reach. Furthermore, the game sets a “par” completion time for each stage, motivating you to find the fastest route to completion. In this sense, the first pass serves as exploration and afterwards, each stage becomes a puzzle to be solved in its entirety. These time-attack challenges are especially difficult in stages with colored blocks because you can lose precious seconds iterating through different combinations of colored blocks in the foreground.

The genius replayability created by the baby puzzles and the time-attack challenges highlights the incompleteness of the game. Mighty Switch Force 2 introduces a new gameplay mechanic in every stage. As a result, the beginning of every stage is similar to a tutorial and surprisingly, the final stage is no exception. The mechanism introduced in the final stage instills a great sense of urgency, but the tutorial-esque beginning minutes of the stage removes all of the supposed finality. Mighty Switch Force 2 harbors so many great ideas, but none are well developed. We learn who the presidents are in History 101, but that is not very fulfilling. We want to learn how the presidents interacted with and influenced history. I am no developer, but I would love to see at least a couple more stages to synthesize every wonderful idea introduced in Mighty Switch Force 2.

Ultimately, Mighty Switch Force 2 succeeds in creating new and interesting gameplay, but fails to realize the massive potential behind its inventive mechanics. With the recent and ongoing boom of quality from indie puzzle platformers, titles in this competitive and mature genre cannot afford to be incomplete. Moreover, the nature of puzzle platformers does not tolerate incompleteness; since every puzzle has an intended solution, the genre traditionally leaves no room for emergent gameplay. With incomplete puzzles and unexplored potential, what is left for Mighty Switch Force 2? Make no mistake, Mighty Switch Force 2 is charming and intriguing, but coming from beloved developer WayForward, Mighty Switch Force 2 should be so much more.

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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