While Shantae will likely always be the series WayForward is best known for, its Mighty series has enjoyed a sizeable degree of success on Nintendo's DSiWare service. Now, the developer is looking to carry that success over to the 3DS eShop with the release of puzzle-platformer Mighty Switch Force. While the game is once again quite different from its predecessors, its unique gameplay and art style make it every bit as original and engaging.
In Mighty Switch Force, you take charge of Officer Patricia Wagon. Your task is to round up all five of the escaped Hooligan Sisters and then make it to the extraction robot in order to complete the level. Since these sisters aren't too keen on being captured, they'll attempt to hide from you in strategic locations around each level. To reach them, you'll have to navigate your way through a host of platforming challenges, along with a barrage of enemies bent on stopping you.
While there is certainly quite a lot of platforming to be found throughout Mighty Switch Force, it's the puzzle aspects that give it such a unique spin. You'll still spend a considerable amount of time running, jumping, and shooting your way through levels, but it's the switch mechanic that forces you to don your thinking cap on from time to time.
There are a host of different block types, each with their own unique set of characteristics. Some are just regular blocks that can be switched in and out of the screen for you to walk upon, whereas other blocks can shoot you off in specific directions or be screwed into the screen so they will remain intact even after you press the switch button. It's this variety of blocks that gives the game its unique puzzle elements and will require you to to use the switching mechanic at very specific times. You can even use these blocks to manoeuvre or destroy enemies, which will be required at times in order to progress through the level.
There are 16 levels — or "incidents" as they're labelled — for you to tackle. While this might seem like a small number, many of these levels are quite lengthy, especially when you factor in the time it will take you to solve the puzzles. As you beat levels, new ones will unlock. You'll even be timed in each level as you shoot for the rather strict par time, yet another reason to go back and play levels again in order to earn the blue star that comes with finishing under par.
As with most WayForward releases, controls are perfectly responsive and very well thought out. Even when you find yourself jumping, shooting and switching in rapid succession, there's never even a slight hiccup in the intuitive control scheme. Add in intricately-crafted level designs and you've got not only a solid level of challenge, but also all the tools with which to beat them.
When it comes to visuals, very few developers have quite the magic touch with sprites that WayForward exudes. Not only are the characters and enemies animated to perfection, but the backdrops show a stunning amount of detail and superb palette choice. Combine this with the amazing 3D depth and you have a visual presentation that's as good as we've seen on the system to date. The game might be a download title, but it features a stunning level of polish more akin to that of a retail release. And if you think the screenshots are gorgeous, wait until you get a look at it in full 3D.
To help drive the intense platforming action there's an upbeat musical score with a techno-influenced style. The music might seem an odd fit at first, but you begin to see just how fitting it is when packaged together with the offbeat visual style the game employs. To further add charm, there are also a host of voiced dialogue snippets and impressive sound effects that liven things up quite nicely.
As impressive as its first two previous Mighty releases are, WayForward has managed to kick things up a few notches with this third title. Not only is the switching mechanic extremely well implemented, but the visual and musical presentation the developer has moulded around it is equally amazing. Mighty Switch Force is easily one of the best games WayForward has crafted and just the type of top-tier 3DS title Nintendo's eShop has been in dire need of.