reviews\ Dec 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Review: Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition on Wii U is challenging, charming, and cheery


Mighty Switch Force is heralded as one of the best releases on Nintendo’s 3DS eShop. The WayForward-developed title quickly made its way into the hearts of many, winning people over with its bright visuals, enjoyable soundtrack, undeniable charm, and challenging platforming gameplay. The game is now available on the Wii U eShop as Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition, and while not much has changed since its 3DS debut, the addition of revamped levels and those sweet HD visuals make this title very easy to recommend for adopters of Nintendo’s latest platform.

Unlike most 2D platformers, Mighty Switch Force is more about clearing levels within a set time limit and less about getting from point A to point B. You play as Officer Patricia Wagon, a dedicated cybernetic cop who doesn’t take guff from anyone. It’s up to you to scour 16 stages in search of escaped convicts, each of which is every bit as charming as Wagon herself. Five female prisoners are scattered within the confines of each stage, and clearing these stages consists of apprehending all of these ladies with shady criminal records.

Mighty Switch Force Hyper Drive Edition - Wii U -

Robocop's got nothing on Patricia Wagon.

Levels start off fairly simple, so much so that you may actually find the first few a bit boring. It doesn’t take long for things to pick up, though, and soon you’re tasked with avoiding dangerous enemies and maneuvering around hazardous obstacles. Your main ability is the block-switching technique, and it’s utterly insane seeing how well this mechanic is employed as the game progresses. You’ll see certain blocks that are faded out onscreen and others that are completely visible. By using your switch ability, you can make the opaque blocks pop out and the solid blacks fade, opening up new paths in the process.

Mighty Switch Force isn’t a simple game, though — at least not in the later stages. Blocks are placed ever so precariously, and the game quickly challenges you to switch blocks at crazy speeds as you traverse over pitfalls. Certain instances force you to switch blocks while in mid-air, and the timing needs to be pixel perfect if you want to succeed. Add to that a lot of clever enemy placement which also requires you to simultaneously use Wagon’s laser gun, and you’ve got some truly remarkable and wholly refreshing platforming on your hands.

As previously stated, Mighty Switch Force relies heavily on clearing levels as fast as possible. That’s not to say you won’t have fun if you play the game at your own pace, but given how every stage has a preset par time, collecting all of the escaped convicts under that set time makes for a real challenge. That’s why it’s a bit of a shame that there’s absolutely no leaderboard support in Mighty Switch Force. While browsing the game’s Miiverse community page, I noticed that a lot of players really like sharing their fastest times with others, so the lack of online leaderboards feels like a missed opportunity.

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Officer Wagon don't take no guff from nobody!

Another gripe some folks may have with Mighty Switch Force is just how short the main game actually is. There are 16 main levels plus five bonus levels which were released as free DLC on the 3DS version. Clearing all of those will unlock Hyper versions of each. These revamped stages are based on the regular levels but add more enemies and challenges, upping the difficulty significantly. Despite the fact that you can probably clear the main game in about four hours, playing through the Hyper levels will add a few hours of play time, and attempting to beat the par scores adds a ton of replayability due to just how tough that feat is. So while Mighty Switch Force may seem short, there’s plenty of game there for folks who want to test their mettle.

As far as Wii U specific features go, WayForward has added some neat options aside from the Hyper levels. While playing on your TV, the GamePad acts as a radar that directs you to the closest felon. It's kind of cool, but because you have indicators on the TV telling you where to go next if you're near a criminal, it isn’t entirely useful (though I did find myself using the feature whenever those hooligans weren’t nearby). You can also play Mighty Switch Force in its entirety on the GamePad. This is really cool if the TV is occupied, and you can switch between the TV and GamePad at will through the pause menu.

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Fun fact 1: This is an official results screen at the end of a level. Fun fact 2: There's actually some really pervy fan art out there.

Visually, Mighty Switch Force has always been a candy-like treat for the eyes. That fact is only emphasized on the Wii U thanks to the great HD capabilities of the system. As good as Mighty Switch Force may have looked on Nintendo’s dual screen handheld, it looks notches better on an HD TV. A bit of color quality is lost when the game is moved over to the GamePad, but even then it still looks absolutely great. As for the sound design, Mighty Switch Force has a superbly catchy soundtrack that harks back to the days of the Sega Genesis. You shouldn’t be at all surprised if the game’s themes stick with you long after you’re done playing. The only thing I found odd about the sound was just how loud the game is when that initial loading screen pops up after selecting it on the Wii U menu. Seriously, why is it so loud?!

Mighty Switch Force on the Wii U triumphantly transfers a previously incredible handheld experience to the home console space. The game is fiendishly challenging and deceptively lengthy if you want it to be. Even after you’ve gotten through the 42 clever stages, it’ll take some doing to beat the par times. The lack of leaderboards and the sometimes frustrating challenge later on will certainly test a few players’ patience, and if you already own the game on 3DS, you’re probably fine skipping this version. Having said that, Mighty Switch Force feels right at home on the Wii U, and it’s a bold, charming, and satisfying eShop game that just begs to be played.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.


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