By Jason Quinn / August 28th, 2019
|Title||Mighty Switch Force! Collection
|Release Date||July 25th, 2019|
|Platform||PC, Xbox One, Switch, PS4|
Mighty Switch Force! Collection is a collection of platformers from developer WayForward. It brings all the assorted Mighty Switch Force games together in one very convenient package. You get the first game, Mighty Switch Force!, Mighty Switch Force! 2, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, and Mighty Switch Force! Academy. Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive is actually the first game, just with some much higher-resolution visuals. The other games use lower-resolution sprites.
The core mechanic is the same throughout all the games. Traverse through each level, find the convicts hidden within, while using the switching mechanic to solve some light puzzles. The switching mechanic is very simple. Hitting the switch button causes some blocks to pop in from the background and other blocks to go into the background, allowing you to either jump on top of them or walk through them. This mechanic gets used in all manner of ways, and after every few stages a new gimmick will be introduced to make things trickier.
Starting with the first game, the premise is pretty simple. You, Patricia Wagon, police officer, are tasked with finding fugitives known as the Hooligan Sisters. There really isn’t much more to the story than this; a running theme through all these games is that the story never goes much beyond its initial premise. They’re very mechanics-oriented games. Levels get more and more complex, introducing new mechanics and layering them on top of old ones. There are also enemies to deal with, though they are generally just obstacles that are pretty quickly dispatched with your gun. The first gimmick introduced are launch blocks. Switching them on while standing in the middle of one will launch you in some direction until you hit something. Another gimmick are red and blue “lock blocks” that won’t switch off if you’re standing on them. If you’re on a blue block and switch, then blue blocks will stay on. The last one are cement blocks that have to be destroyed by blowing up bomb enemies near them.
Mighty Switch Force! mixes up these mechanics and creates all sorts of puzzles. It doesn’t seem like much, but there are only 16 levels, so it makes the most out of what it has without feeling ever feeling like you’re doing something you’ve already done before. The collection also includes levels that were originally DLC for some added challenge. For replayability, every level has a par time you can try to meet, and these par times are no joke. You’ll be having to really nail down your route through each level to hit these par times. Depending on how much you try to go for those, this game can last several hours to about 10 or so hours.
It’s a pretty simple concept, and it’s executed about as well as one could expect. It’s just a very satisfying-to-play platformer. The switching mechanic sounds almost too simple to base a whole game around, but the additional gimmicks complement it well. It does a very good job of introducing a new gimmick and getting you used to how it works, before it tests how well you can deal with them in more tense situations. The result is something that’s very fresh and interesting.
You do get the choice between the original and the Hyper Drive Edition, and there’s really nothing to differentiate the two aside from visuals. Personally, I kinda like the sprites of the original version a bit more, but Hyper Drive Edition still looks pretty good.
Moving onto the second game, we have a whole change in premise and with that some mechanical changes. Patricia Wagon is now a hose-toting firefighter. Rather than tracking down the fugitive Hooligan Sisters, it is your job to save them. The hose is a bit different from your gun. The gun blasts would travel in a straight line across the screen, while the water from the house drops down after a bit. This means you can’t take out enemies before they even become a threat. Also, there are now fires peppered throughout the levels that will damage you if you run into them, but your hose can take care of them.
Aside from that, much of the game is the same. An added mechanic are these tubes you can shoot your hose into to redirect the water. These can be blocks you switch on and off, and even part of the blue and red lock blocks. Another block is one that is on fire, and can be put out by spraying it with water. However, the fire will start up again after a couple seconds, so you have to be quick. In addition to rescuing the Hooligan Sisters, each level has a baby you can save, though it’s an optional challenge. You don’t have to do it, but saving all the sisters and finding the baby all under the par time is the logical thing you’ll want to work up to.
All my praise for the first game applies to this one. I’d say it’s as good, if not even better. Having to deal with the fires in each level might seem like they’d just slow you down, but effectively putting them out is satisfying too. The added mechanics also add quite a bit. Like the first game, there’s 16 levels. Unfortunately, there were no added DLC levels, so it might not last you as long as the first game.
The last game is Mighty Switch Force! Academy, originally released only on PC. The premise here is a bit of a prequel, with Patricia Wagon being a cadet learning the ropes in police academy, with the Hooligan Sisters also apparently being cadets. Levels play out like the first game though, where you have to track them down. The first noticeable difference between this game and the original is that you can see the entire level on one screen. This does mean you can see the whole level at a glance. However, the character sprite ends up being really small, and some levels can be rather hard to parse at first.
The gameplay is exactly the same as the first game, though the level design I’d say is taken to the extreme. I’d say it’s overall quite a bit harder than the first game, as it feels like the level designers just had no restrictions. They just crammed each level with whatever they could think of. There aren’t too many new mechanics, though one new one will reorient gravity so that you’re now walking on the ceiling. Another new thing is fairly subtle, where traveling off the stage in one direction will cause you to wrap around to the other side. More than one level even requires taking advantage of this. Another thing is something like an enemy spawner throwing out a nonstop wall of bomb enemies, and blowing one up causes a chain reaction where they all blow up, and there will be a brief moment you can pass through them.
I’d say this is my favorite out of the collection. The level design just never stopped being creative and experimental. The final level was an incredibly tough challenge, I struggled with it a lot more than in other games, but it felt fantastic when I finally conquered it. New mechanics are very fun, and old mechanics feel like they’ve been pushed further than the original games pushed them. For example, there’s an entire level that has to be navigated with launcher blocks. I do wish it borrowed mechanics from Mighty Switch Force! 2, but I suppose they wanted to keep things relatively simple and pure here.
Something shared by all the games on here is some absolutely fantastic music. I only ever played Mighty Switch Force! on the 3DS before, and those speakers just don’t do these tracks justice. They were composed by Jake Kaufman, and I’d say it’s some of his finest video game work. It’s just a plethora of high energy, upbeat electronic music. I even configured the sound settings to where the sound effects were totally silent so that I could just listen to the music.
Buying these games individually might’ve been a hard sell for some due to the almost non-existent story and generally very low run-time. The whole collection is a great value, though. For $20, you get three amazing platformers, and 20 hours worth of playtime, minimum.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
2D PlatfromerMighty Switch Force! CollectionPCPlayStation 4SwitchWayForwardXbox One