Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition (PC) Review

Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition is now on Steam for PCs, and wow, I like the way it looks.  Graphics aren't everything, but I do appreciate detailed animations, and WayForward delivers again.  Also, the visuals are smooth and the models look great.  I feel bad gushing about the visuals, but combining nice cartoon-y graphics with great animations just makes me smile.

Anyway, when I first booted up the game, I didn't have a controller plugged into my PC.  The game seemed to assume I did, since any button prompts were from the Xbox 360's controller.  That was my first clue to use a controller.  I marched ahead, and found the keyboard to be... serviceable.  Like most action or platforming games, the controller just works best (sorry PC elitists!).  On the controller, though, the controls are pretty tight.  They pretty much have to be, since there are times when you need extreme accuracy to get through.

Mighty Switch Force is a puzzle platformer, and as Patty Wagon you must find five criminal girls around each stage.  You can shoot, jump and "switch", which will change certain blocks.  The goal is to get all five criminals, then make your way to the exit, which just happens to be a robot that you climb in and take off.  The puzzle aspects are finding out where the criminals are, and how to get to them.

I'm not too fond of puzzle games, but I will admit that the puzzles in Mighty Switch Force are pretty clever.  There are a few different types of blocks that react differently when you switch.  There are the standard blocks that appear during one part of the switch and not the other, but a few other special ones that, for better or worse, don't have any tutorial on to know how they work.  It takes a bit of trial and error to understand how they work, but once you do, it is fairly easy to know what to do with them.  Sadly, this kind of discovery is all but gone in today's game market, but it sure took me back when I realized I had to figure out what the special blocks did, instead of having the game tell me in great detail.

One type of special block will launch you in a direction if you switch while in the same space as it, while another will change when it switches out if you stand on it while swapping.  Be careful standing in the same space as a block while switching, since most blocks will launch you at the screen and do damage.  It's a cool animation, but pretty embarrassing to do the first time.  However, doing that to enemies is actually another puzzle the game uses, which I though was pretty neat.

There are 16 stages, called incidents, to do and then a few bonus stages.  You can also unlock and do "hyper" versions of these stages, which are slightly remixed from the original.  Now you know where the title comes from.  Each stage has a par time limit, but thankfully you can complete them in over that time.  It would be near impossible to do the par time on your first try, so you will need to repeat the stages if you are aiming to get your time down.  It's a decent value for you money, especially if you re-do the stages to try for under par.  Otherwise, each stage will take you about 2-7 minutes to complete.

I will admit that the game gets hard.  Some of the latter stages require exact timing to get though them.  The launching blocks tend to be in groups, so you have to quickly switch when the time is right.  It is much harder than it sounds... and makes me feel old when I mistime it.  There are also a few jumping parts where you have to jump, switch, move and switch again, all before you land from you jump.  Yikes.  Each hit takes one heart you have and may send you back to the latest checkpoint.  If you lose them all, you have to restart the level.  So while each level might not be very long, you could potentially do some again, even if not trying to improve your time.

Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition is pretty quick and fun, even though I'm not really into puzzle games.  It ran pretty well on both my PC (i7) and laptop (i5), just make sure you have a controller to use.  The puzzles are pretty clever and the game requires some exact timing.  It gets pretty hard, but puzzle fans and even fans of difficult platformers should check it out.

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