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Old 07-09-2013, 08:01 PM   #1
Golem
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Rate this review: Mighty Switch Force 2

Mighty Switch Force 2 (3DS, Wayforward, 2013)

High: Making a series of jumps and switching phases in quick succession without a pause in my forward dash.
Low: Halting my forward momentum to fit together some pipes.
WTF: She regains health by collecting floppy disks?

In the future, says Mighty Switch Force 2, firefighters won't need giant trucks. Instead, they'll arrive on the scene of an emergency courtesy of a flying robot suit, only to be faced with puzzle platforming challenges. It's the same concept that the original Mighty Switch Force applied to the future of the police force, and gameplay remains much the same as the first title. Newcomers will find a streamlined puzzle platformer, and those familiar with the franchise can enjoy what they already know, just with a new coat of paint.
Mighty Switch Force 2 is a 2D puzzle platformer, bringing with it conventional mechanics: jumping and walking left and right. However, as with the first Mighty Switch Force, protagonist Patricia Wagon uses a special switch. At the press of this switch, the entire world swaps phases. Most of her environment will remain unchanged, but specially marked switch blocks will either turn on or off. While a block is on, Miss Wagon will bump against it and can use it as solid footing. While a block is off, she can see its translucent form, but she'll pass right through it.
Patricia Wagon will need to make the most of these mechanics to navigate levels. Each one contains five victims to save (simply by touching them) in order to open the level exit.
Despite bearing the label of puzzle platformer, most gameplay time is not spent experimenting with various outcomes before reaching a solution. The puzzle element of Mighty Switch Force 2 is simple. You can only turn blocks on or off, and it doesn't get much more complicated by the end of the game.
Rather, the game adopts a typical platforming rhythm. Patricia runs and jumps through levels, and her jumps mark the implicit beat of gameplay. The switch button throws another piece into this rhythm. While guiding her through obstacle courses constructed of various switch blocks, I'd notice my thumb rocking back and forth between the jump and switch buttons.
For instance, the first level contains a flat stretch with spiked pits along the way. The gaps were too large to cross by jumps alone; I had to turn on switch blocks in the middle of each gap to create safe footing. I'd walk up to a gap, switch the blocks on, then jump to those blocks. Then came the next stretch: again, it went walk, switch, and jump, walk, switch, and jump. Though your ultimate goal is to rescue five people and reach the exit, Mighty Switch Force 2 will teach you implicit rhythms like this one along the way.
By the end of the game, I was accustomed to switching multiple times during a single jump, creating a race to reach the right configuration before Patricia fell onto a bed of spikes. Solving a given puzzle and finding the right time to switch is simple enough. The devil is in executing that timing correctly.
In that sense, the music does well to match gameplay with its own beat. Poppy melodies are set to dance rhythms and dressed in a variety of electronic instrumentation, resulting in tracks that sustain a lively beat over a melody that stays fresh.
However, Mighty Switch Force 2's coat of paint on the formula develops cracks.
This time, Patricia Wagon packs a water hose for dispatching enemies and extinguishing fires. Using the fire hose means waiting a few moments for it to rev up from a drip to a stream to a blast, putting mindless pauses in gameplay. Additionally, later levels introduce pipe mazes for carrying water. Constructing these invites Patricia to stand still as you determine the right configuration of pipes, sucking any rhythm out of the gameplay.
Granted, Mighty Switch Force 2 also adds one optional baby to save in each level. You can only save one of these maguffins by clearing an optional platforming segment in the stage, creating an extra challenge for the experienced Switch Force player. It's a satisfying one at that, considering the low difficulty of the stages.
In fact, with its low difficulty and toe-tapping music, Mighty Switch Force 2 makes for a catchy game. Even the graphics are eye-catching; bright red fires contrast against dark blue night skies, and hapless human victims recoil when Patricia accidentally (or purposely) sprays them with water. Despite a few hiccups in its rhythm, Mighty Switch Force 2 keeps a driving beat.

7/10

Disclosures: This game was obtained via download and reviewed on the 3DS. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode (completed 1 time). There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: While there is no nudity, the game has earned an E10+ rating from the ESRB for suggestive themes.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: None of the audio is crucial to gameplay.

----

Any advice you guys have is much appreciated!

I got some great feedback on my The Last Story review, but didn't follow it up. Hoping to get more serious this time, since I'd like the practice.

Concerns:
-Too much first person?
-Not enough aesthetic commentary?

Last edited by Golem; 07-16-2013 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 07-13-2013, 04:37 AM   #2
Pedro
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Re: Rate this review: Mighty Switch Force 2

Howdy Golem

Seems decent, however the big issue for me here is that I didn't find the game mechanics and objectives to be laid out clearly at the start, so as someone who knows nothing at all about this game, it was a little hard to follow.

Maybe it would be better to not write these couple of paragraphs in the first person, but just outline them in third person? Just a suggestion.

Quote:
Walking through the first level, I found a normal platforming rhythm: walk, jump a gap, walk, jump a gap. Then came an extended gap with only translucent blocks in the middle.
At the press of a button, Patricia Wagon—your firefighting protagonist—will switch phases. Blocks that are translucent and pass-through on one phase will be solid ground on the other. Blocks only have two states, so you've only got two phases to switch between. You'll need to master this technique to collect—I mean save—five victims per level and open up the level goal. Danger is most often present in the form of spike pits, enemies, or squishing Patricia against the screen by phasing a block on top of her.
So, running along that first stage, I'd walk up to a gap with pass-through blocks, press the switch button to turn the blocks solid, then jump to those blocks. The rhythm changed: walk, switch, jump a gap. The switch button threw a new piece into platforming rhythm, and it created a satisfying beat as my thumb rolled between the jump and switch buttons.
Because I was only turning blocks on or off, switching was simple. At any given moment, I could easily see which blocks would turn on and which would turn off. As a result, I rarely stopped in my tracks to consider puzzles. Instead, I cleared most platforming scenarios by sussing out the right sense of rhythm: when to jump versus when to switch.
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:44 PM   #3
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Re: Rate this review: Mighty Switch Force 2

Thanks for the advice. I've taken a look and tried to be more explicit (edited the first post). It's an overhaul, but I think it makes more sense.

Last edited by Golem; 07-16-2013 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 07-20-2013, 06:07 AM   #4
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Re: Rate this review: Mighty Switch Force 2

I think that makes it a lot better; nice job!
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:05 PM   #5
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Re: Rate this review: Mighty Switch Force 2

Awesome, glad to hear. 8)
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:27 PM   #6
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Re: Rate this review: Mighty Switch Force 2

Hey Golem,

Nice, clean read. You do a great job of laying out the rhythm of the gameplay in particular. By the end of the review I had a real sense of what working my way through the game would look and feel like.

One quick suggestion, and this could just be me: Maybe give an example or two of what you consider to be archetypal puzzle platformers at the top. You use the term quite a bit and discuss how it does and doesn't apply to MSF2, but I hadn't given much thought to puzzle platformers as a separate genre before, so I spent a lot of the article wondering what games I've played would fall under the category (Runner 2? Fez?). Again, this may just be me being unhip.

Anyway, nice job!
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