Officer Wagon has a big problem – a gang of sexy criminals have busted out of jail, and it’s up to her and her alone to put them behind bars again. Over sixteen levels, Wagon will sprint, leap, and blast her way through various obstacles and enemies to capture five fleety jailbirds per level.
Although she does have a gun, the game is primarily puzzle based (like Mighty Flip Champs) – but is it exciting enough to warrant a $5.99 price tag?
Like most puzzles games, each level has pretty much the same concept – capture five criminals, then find the exit. Gameplay itself is quite frenetic, as the main “switch” mechanic can be activated at will.
Like the recent puzzle/platformer Outland, you’ll find yourself switching blocks in mid-jump quite frequently, which will put your reflexes to the test. Eventually, you’ll encounter spring blocks that will launch you in various directions (a la Donkey Kong Country), and other such contraptions that help keep each stage varied.
MSF’s gameplay is fairly basic (buttons for jumping, shooting, and switching blocks), but the game does you no favors in explaining anything, unless you read the virtual manual on the 3DS’s home screen (which most people don’t even know exists), and even then, it only really tells you the buttons.
While some people may have issues with the lack of tutorial (which is usually pretty standard these days), I actually found it refreshing, and it reminded me of the olden days of cracking into an NES game completely blind. Pretty much every level introduces a new concept or block, which will basically force you to replay multiple times to get the par time – or at least until you understand how they work.
One of the biggest issues with Mighty Switch Force is it’s length – with only 16 levels in the game’s entirety, it feels much, much shorter than WayForward’s previous puzzle game Mighty Flip Champs, which basically has twice as many levels available.
Levels range from 30 seconds to around 3 minutes maximum to complete (par time), so if you put two and two together, there isn’t a whole lot of single playthrough value here. Additionally, it’s a bit jarring to have the par time immediately given to you on your first attempt at a level. Instead of simply completing the level at your own pace for fun, you might feel inclined to continually quit the stage to obtain the par time.
Also, the par time is just one flat time – you either make it, or you don’t. The game would have easily benefited from a Bronze, Silver, and Gold ranking system, so at least people feel some sense of accomplishment. Lastly, even if you do push forward and obtain these par times, there’s no way to share them, because there is zero support for leaderboards and streetpass transfers. To add to the frustration, there’s no option to restart the level – you have to quit out and re-select it each time.
Despite these shortcomings with the length of the game and it’s replayability, Mighty Switch Force looks superb. In fact, it looks so good that it could easily be converted into a Saturday morning cartoon, and the colorful cast of characters (including the strangely adorable Ugly Checkpoint Dog) really shine, as does the soundtrack.
The 3D effects aren’t anything to write home about, but they are very good for a simple downloadable game. In short, I really hope that more developers follow suit and actually decide to make 3D games for the 3DS eShop – the world needs more companies like WayForward.
WayForward is certainly pushing Nintendo portables…well…forward! All four of their downloadable DSi/3DS titles are must haves, and some of the best on the platform. Although they’ve been making licensed games for quite some time now, it feels like they’ve finally found their original IP cartoony groove, and I really hope they stick to it.
This review is based on a digital copy of the 3DS game Mighty Switch Force.