Review: Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition (Wii U eShop)

Arresting development

When Mighty Switch Force was released for the 3DS eShop it was quickly heralded as not only one of the service’s best games but also one of the best games on the stereoscopic handheld period. Faultless controls, addictive puzzle platforming and a healthy dose of WayForward’s trademark charm made it shine, and now with the release of the Wii U there's a chance it'll win over an entirely new audience with Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition.

The game is basically the same as the portable version: you play as robocop Patricia Wagon and have to track down the Hooligan Sisters as fast as you can through a variety of stages. The only moves in Patricia’s repertoire are jumping, shooting, and switching blocks, which forms the core of the puzzle-themed adventure. With a flash of her helmet-mounted siren, Patricia swaps blocks between the foreground and background, allowing her access to different parts of the levels.

There are 16 stages from the original game with five bonus extras, but completing them unlocks Hyper editions of each stage. While 21 levels that are designed to be beaten in a couple of minutes each seems like a paltry offering, each stage has a par time that you’ll need plenty of practice to come in under. You might feel pretty good about yourself after clearing a stage in three minutes, but with the par time of a minute and a half staring at you it won’t really feel like you’ve completed a level until you've shaved off a lot of that excess time.

While the block-switching mechanic was a great way to show off the 3DS’ chops, with so many things popping in and out of the foreground, the big pull of the Wii U version is the HD visuals. WayForward has earned a reputation for their gorgeous 2D art and it really shines on Nintendo’s newest console. Character sprites are large, their colour and detail bursting off of your TV screen. Despite the game being a race against the clock, you might find yourself stopping from time to time to just stare at the characters and their idle animations.

The game supports off-TV play, perfect for when you want to test your brain while someone else watches TV. When playing on the big screen the GamePad displays the radar that was on the bottom screen in the 3DS version. The TV has arrows pointing you to the nearest Hooligan Sister, though, so you won't be using it much.

The only thing missing from Hyper Drive Edition is some kind of online leaderboard. For a game built around beating levels as fast as possible, a way to see the times of the best players would have put it over the top. You can post your times to Miiverse, of course, as people have been doing, but having it built into the game would have been phenomenal. It’s more of a nitpicky complaint than anything, but with a game as incredible as this it’s hard to find anything wrong.

Conclusion

Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition is just as fantastic as its 3DS predecessor. The controls are flawless, the graphics amazing, the music some of the best we’ve heard in any video game. It all really comes down to which D you prefer, 3D or HD. The Wii U’s graphical muscle is the perfect partner for WayForward’s art gods, so even if you’ve already had your fill of the original there’s some pretty big incentive to double dip.