WayForward’s puzzle-platforming series first debuted on the Wii U eShop back in November of 2012, when the developer gave the original Mighty Switch Force! an HD facelift and deemed it the Hyper Drive Edition. This time, the sequel — which released for download back in June on the 3DS — has been ported to Nintendo’s current home console without any altering of its makeup. To learn this will possibly disappoint some of you, but since cosmetics only go so far anyway we suggest you hose those tears away. What’s most important is how the game plays.
If you’ve posed as a police officer in the original game (in either of its forms), you’re going to get a lot of the same in Mighty Switch Force! 2, but this time around Patricia Wagon has enlisted her services in another form of public safety: fire-fighting. Armed with a water hose instead of a gun, players will need to extinguish fires to clear pathways, take down or push enemies off ledges and use this mechanic to solve puzzles. Outside of the usual switching of blocks in and out of the foreground, there are now pipes that need to be aligned to direct water to a point of interest. It may sound like a gimmicky inclusion, but it actually fits right into the existing framework and feels very natural.
Depending on what you expect from a sequel, you may be a little let down to learn those are about the only new changes to the formula. Many of the enemies are back, levels and their design can feel familiar and you’ll still need to recover five Hooligan Sisters per level. In a way — especially considering the short length of these titles — Mighty Switch Force! 2 feels like an add-on or an expansion more than a sequel. But that’s really an argument of semantics, more than anything, as the production values and few hours of entertainment are totally worthy of the price tag. Plus — and most importantly — the game plays extremely well.
Those already Switch Force initiated may not find the puzzles to be as perplexing this time around, but for us, Mighty Switch Force! 2 succeeds in its playability. Some levels can be platformed through without exploding in an inferno of emotion, while others present a cerebral challenge — rarely did we get stumped, because persistently fidgeting with the puzzles can eventually lead you to a solution. This ensures that things keep moving at a brisk pace, which is pretty essential given the optional goal of clearing the stages in a given amount of time. Conquering these par times isn’t easy, and tracking down the single baby trapped in each level — which needs to be punted to safety, of course — further extends this challenge.
Upon spraying through all 16 stages for the first time, you’ll unlock a helpful tool for perfecting your speed runs and powering up Patricia. Our first playthrough clocked in around two hours, though it’s worth noting that we were taking our time as we went. To cap off the campaign, there’s a pattern-based boss battle to give everything a climactic feeling. When finished, we were left wanting more — but in the best way. This is where the in-one-sitting length becomes a positive more than a negative, as we’re now more likely to re-enlist our fire-fighting skills from time to time.
The GamePad is utilized in the exact manner as the bottom screen of the 3DS, which provides a radar indicating the location of the next damsel in distress. We didn't really find ourselves using this feature because there are also on-screen cues directing you where to go next. Those of you used to throwing down fisticuffs over TV time will be happy to know that off-screen play is available at the tap of a button. Another minor change is that the television screen now has a HUD (with health, timer, and tally of rescued sisters) instead of all of that information being relegated to the 2nd screen.
With its detailed pixels mixed with lively colours and Nintendo-like enemies, the game clearly aims to charm, especially if your love for gaming has been burning since the 16-bit era — or before. And it’s not just about what’s on the surface; Mighty Switch Force! 2 captures the essence and spirit of games from the early 90's masterfully. These days, there’s no shortage of modern games that visually aim to replicate the look of retro titles, but it’s been a long time since we truly felt we were playing a new Super Nintendo game. We lost ourselves in the experience and didn't let go until the final credits rolled.
So in summary, the only real weakness of Mighty Switch Force! 2 is that it's more of the same. But carrying more weight than any criticism we made in this review is the fact that the game is loads of fun to play. If you enjoyed the original and aren't expecting the sequel to redefine its formula, you'll likely love what's on offer here. The only potential consumers we can't quite recommend this to are the ones that already own the 3DS version, considering it's just a port.
The ported pixels look charming on the big screen, the energetic soundtrack keeps a beat in your step, and above all, the game plays great. Mighty Switch Force! 2 might not offer drastic changes from its predecessor, but given the brevity of these games, we think more of the same is in no way a bad thing. Anyone who already owns the 3DS counterpart more than likely won’t find any reason to reinvest in this duplicate, though Wii U owners that have yet to switch their attention over to the series should feel confident jumping in. The Mighty Switch Force! series is on the cusp of true platforming greatness and we can't wait to see what those talented folks at WayForward will bring to the table next time around.