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CONSOLE: Wii U DEVELOPER: WayForward Technologies PUBLISHER: WayForward Technologies
RELEASE DATE (NA): November 18, 2012 GENRE: Platformer/Puzzle
// review by SoyBomb

Lock up ladies, then unlock levels.

Mighty Switch Force! started its life on the 3DS, released back in late 2011 to generally positive critical acclaim. (Do I have to put that exclamation point in every time? That's really doing to mess with my punctuation perspective.) A subsequent free update the following year dropped a few extra levels and niftier use of the 3D screen mode. The game was then ported to the more powerful Wii U in 2012, dubbed the "Hyper Drive Edition". But is it REALLY all that hyper?

Unlike most platformers, Mighty Switch Force! offers sixteen "main" stages, chosen individually from the main menu, though some are initially locked until you complete earlier ones. These stages are meant to be enjoyed in short bursts, which is why they offer "par" goals, times to beat in order to be considered a Mighty Switch Master. I made that title up. Most stages offer a par of 2 minutes or less. Successful completion of all sixteen courses unlocks five bonus ones, bringing the total to 21 levels in all; polishing off those then releases "Hyper" versions of each one. By the sounds of it, a "Hyper" stage would be bigger and bolder and rougher and tougher (in other words, sucker, there is no other). No, they're just remixed and a bit more difficult. There's nothing hyper about them, unless seeing that the game actually has more than an hour's worth of gameplay makes you hyper.

Though it's not really made apparent much in the game itself, you take control of Patricia Wagon, a plasma-blasting cyborg cop who is tasked with amassing every single female prison inmate that has recently escaped. There are five in each stage, and they're easy to catch, as they basically just stand around, waiting to get caught without resistance. As Ms. Wagon, you hop around, hunting down each of the convicts, and once you've grabbed all five, a giant white mech robot appears somewhere in the stage to whisk you away to safety. That doesn't sound out of the ordinary, does it?

The "switch" element — which makes this series a shoe-in on the upcoming Nintendo Switch console — tests your personal thumb agility and is the one unique feature of the game. With a press of the A button, players can magically make translucent platforms appear in full or disappear, allowing them to hop on top of them or fall through them as needed. If you're in front of a platform when you active it, Patricia (or other enemies — hint, hint) smashes against the screen, withering in cyberpain. You can make other objects appear and disappear by the same method, including blast cannons and differently coloured blocks that will remain in place, even during the switch, if Patricia's standing on them. Gimmicky? Yes. Effective? Also yes. Though only occasionally mind-numbingly frustrating, Mighty Switch Force is a good challenge for both newcomers and the platforming elite alike, especially when having to switch blocks in rapid succession just to survive. Part of the challenge is from the button placement: pressing the A button, followed by a lightning quick jump with the B button, is a tad awkward on the Wii U GamePad from the perspective of a person with human thumbs. Have those cat-like reflexes out.

Stop the block... can't stop the block...

And my reward for beating a stage? I didn't just get told that I didn't beat the stage's par time. THAT, I expected. I also get a lovely picture of Patricia in action, or possibly several clones of her in swimsuits sudsing up the police van showing off their oddly angular mid-curves. I...certainly didn't expect that. But I got it.

Sadly, Mighty Switch Force! also only has one boss battle. They say too much of a good thing is bad for you, but that only applies to sugary treats and seasons of Diff'rent Strokes. The one that they DID include was good fun; I wish they had expanded on this much more.

Being on the Wii U, the sprites and other art had to be completely re-drawn from scratch to meet those high HD standards, and it looks pretty darn good! Plenty of colour abound, thar be. But as pleasant as the graphics are, it's the funky music, courtesy of in-demand composer Jake Kaufman (of Shovel Knight fame, among other titles), that will keep you couch-jivin' while you smack your character against the screen repeatedly. That solid electronic music is the driving force behind keeping you going, even in the dankest of times. Yes, I just said "dankest".

Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, despite not being as hyper as expected, is a solid blast of good fun... but a short one as well. I mean, this game is SHORT. Even with the addition of the Hyper stages, it can still easily only set you back a few hours. Purists will do their very best to beat the par times and whack the egos of the leaderboard toppers, but for the rest of us, it's a nice platformer that will chip away a bit of your time while you jam on your couch.

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