Mighty Switch Force 2 is a puzzle platformer that channels some serious retro vibes. As soon as I started the game up, it felt like I was playing something from my 16-bit past.
Running around as a firewoman, you need to put out fires, jump from platform to platform and save enough damsels in distress to trigger your awesome mecha-suit to get you out of the level. Using your switch powers to make blocks move into the foreground or background combined with your powerful hose, you can push enemies off ledges, dissolve muddy blocks and generally solve platforming puzzles to complete each level. In that sense, the game is rather straight forward; you don’t even get a tutorial or instructional level. However, mastering the game, and beating the time trials, now there’s a real challenge.
When Mighty Switch Force was released on Wii U, it was giving a full HD update. This iteration was not, and it certainly shows. It’s not that the game is bad looking, but it certainly isn’t beautiful. While this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, it doesn’t really make sense for a sequel. Even the music is reminiscent of retro gaming: upbeat and exciting, but ultimately repetitive and low quality.
Less than excellent graphics are manageable, however the lack of precision for impact got a bit frustrating. Sometimes my fire-lady could hang halfway off a platform, and yet when switching I could get smashed by a block when my toe was barely touching it. Sure, the game seems to be playing on nostalgia when it comes to design, but I still want modern precision. This became particularly frustrating in later, more difficult levels when I would plummet or be smashed to death due to lack of certainty if I was on a platform or not.
Mighty Switch Force 2 is a challenging puzzle platformer – while there are checkpoints throughout a level, you still only get a certain number of lives before you die and need to retry again from the beginning. As for actual level design, while they build upon each other and often seem familiar, each level gives a distinctive challenge. Sometimes it’s all about the fire, while other times it’s using logic to switch the right blocks together in order to move through obstacles or get your water hose to reach through a series of pipes and destroy the right blocks. In the end, it is still a puzzle platformer – plenty of timed jumping necessary to save those damsels in distress.
I’m sure there is a story behind this game, but it was never really explained. There is the odd picture of my firewoman character with the ladies that she has rescued, or maybe some sort of robot attacker, but I’m still completely unsure of the premise of the game. That said, does it really matter? Puzzle platformers are not exactly story driven – it’s all about level design and gameplay.
Despite some moments of awkward design, Mighty Switch Force 2 is a really fun game. I enjoyed working my way through each level and overcoming the unique challenges. It ignited that same platformer joy that old school NES games used to. Sure, I would get frustrated or irritated, but I kept going back for more. I knew that if I just timed things right, made that jump, killed that one enemy, I could get through the level. In this way, WayForward’s platformer strikes the perfect balance between challenge and success; never too easy or too hard, Mighty Switch Force 2 is strangely addictive and definitely enjoyable.
That said, I have no desire to return to the game, replay levels and get through the time trials. It may have been better as a casual game to play on the 3DS, but it makes no real use of Wii U features – the game feels like I should be playing it on an arcade set-up. It certainly was fun while I was playing it, but it is ultimately forgettable.