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Mighty Switch Force 2 review

WayForward's platformer is more expansion pack than sequel

If the job of a sequel is to refine or reinvent, Mighty Switch Force 2 doesn't quite do enough on either count. It's really more of a level pack, a game firmly aimed at those who finished the original and fancied a little more of the same.

Sure, protagonist Patricia Wagon's now rescuing the Hooligan Sisters (the original's gang of skimpily attired criminals) from an inferno with a powerful water gun rather than a pistol, but its 16 stages of puzzle-platforming reuse just about all of the first game's best ideas without introducing many of their own.

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For example, you'll still jab a button to make transparent blocks solid, creating platforms to land on while you're in mid-jump. You'll maliciously smash enemies you've lured into position against the screen, either to open a gate that unlocks when they die, or simply to get them out of the way.

You'll leap athletically into boost blocks that send you arrowing over large gaps or up to new heights. You'll frown intensely as you work out how to lock platforms in place to create a route through to the next Sister.

You'll undoubtedly swear profusely at the exacting nature of the platforming as a slightly mistimed switch squishes Patricia like a bug hurtling full speed into a windscreen. You'll swear even more profusely as you fall three-tenths of a second outside the astonishingly strict par times for each level.

Aqua Scream Blunder Force

That isn't to say it's entirely bereft of new ideas. There are enemies you'll need to pump full of water until they explode to reveal the Sister they've swallowed, while new tiles channel your water flow to dissolve mud platforms or hit unsuspecting enemies from afar.

The stages where you redirect the flow using locks and switches prove the game's most entertaining conundrums, but WayForward would rather you run gauntlets of flaming platforms that you need to temporarily douse before jumping on them. We were reminded of Mario Sunshine's Corona Mountain in these stages, mainly thanks to the mix of satisfaction and relief we felt when we beat them.

Of course, those who conquered the original won't mind too much that this offers a steeper challenge, but Patricia's water gun may just be a frustration too far. It fires out jets of H2O that are absolutely fine for hitting targets at a distance, but you have to let it peter out to a dribble for closer hazards, which simply isn't intuitive when you're hurrying to the next bit of safe ground.

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Couple that with the longer levels and the harsher par times and we felt less enthused about replaying them this time around. Not least because Patricia's piercing shriek as she runs out of hearts remains one of the most irritating death cries we've ever heard. And trust us, when you're speed-running you'll hear it a good deal more often than you did in the first game.

All that said, Mighty Switch Force 2 shares all the original game's strengths: the gorgeous art, the earworm soundtrack and the smart level design that (mostly) stays the right side of fiendish. It's not as consistently enjoyable as the original for our money, but if Mighty Switch Force merely left you wanting more where that came from, rather than a more substantial overhaul, then you'll find little to argue with here.

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  1. MartinIsAwesome Saturday 10th Aug 2013 at 11:54

    I've been playing this game and I absolutely love it, as much as the first game. With that in mind, I think it is totally unfair to call it a meer level pack. The variable pressure water gun forces you to think about tackling the platforming-puzzles and enemies in a completely different way to teh first game's straight-shooting blaster weapon.
    You say that it isn't intuitive, but I'd argue differently. The moment you press the button to do a single shot, you notice straight away that it doesn't squirt at full power. Then you try holding the button and you realise that the pressure gradually increases to it's full potential. Likewise, releasing the button makes the pressure drop gradually as the stream of water returns close you you. You know, just like when you turn on a real water hose (or a shower ) and adjust the pressure from the tap. It then becomes pretty obvious how this game works. Just because it forces you to stop and focus on your water-pressure control is exactly what sets it apart from the first, and it makes you try out different techniques for extinguishing flames from afar. All stuff that you couldn't do in the original.
    It also shows you than trying to steamroll your way through the stages, whilst fine in the first game, just won't cut it here. You have to play the stages at you own pace first to familiarise yourself with the layout andfigure out the most efficiant way of tackling the obsticles, even it if means jumping a small flame instead of putting it out, or risking taking a hit to give you a few seconds of invulnerability (which you can do as health-up items are much more common this time around). As a result, I rarely get the death-scream, which really isn't as bad as you say it is (the screams in Golden Axe are way worse, just saying).

    TLDR; I generally don't agree with your negatives and it's so more than just a level pack.

  2. 9 Times Saturday 10th Aug 2013 at 16:06

    Has anyone noticed the final percentage summary rhymes?

    Well, sort of.
    Anyways, for me, it was the soundtrack that made the first game truly special, and MSF 2 didn't deliver the same awesomness as the first in terms of music, so I'm not sure i'll enjoy it as much :(

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