Review by Blitzkr13g

"WayForward switches it up just enough with MSF2."

The original Mighty Switch Force! was released on the 3DS E-shop in late 2011, mostly slipping under the radar due to a lack of advertising or fanfare. Those 'in the know,' however, would not only know about it beforehand but have high hopes for it at release due to the developer, WayForward, with a track record that includes games such as Shantae and Contra 4 . The two previous games in the Mighty series, Mighty Milky Way! and Mighty Flip Champs! (the exclamation point at the end didn't start with Switch Force!), were seemingly largely ignored due to being limited to DSi owners (as some people still used original or Lite DSs to play games and were waiting for the next full system). MSF, however, was available to anyone with a 3DS system, and at the time of release was one of the only games on the still-growing Eshop that wasn't a port of an old NES or SNES game.

As it turned out, MSF became a sleeper hit. Word of mouth spread and sales rose and rose, and after a high-definition port to the WiiU with added levels and unlockables, Mighty Switch Force! 2 was released again on the 3DS Eshop- this time getting an icon on the shop's front page on release day.

Graphics: 9 / 10
This game looks gorgeous. Seriously. WayForward put out top-tier sprite work as usual, and the more cartoony end-of-level screens and cutscenes are nothing to scoff at, either. The sprites overall have a few more frames per animation than MSF, giving the game an even more fluid look when playing. Cyborg protagonist Patricia 'Patty' Wagon is just as cute and curvy as ever, and the five Hooligan Sisters have ditched their jail clothes for unique outfits and idle animations (try spraying them with water for extra kicks!). The Sisters are a major part of the graphics update- through nothing but these still pictures and idle animations, the artists have managed to give each one a distinct personality building off the original game through mannerisms, clothing, and even recurring events (that poor skirt-wearing Sister does NOT have good luck with water hoses).

Levels (or rather, Incidents) are considerably more varied than the first game as well. While similar cityscapes sprawl in the background, there is less obvious repetition in the overall level theme than previously seen, and the 3D effect has been refined a bit to be less jarring on the eyes while Patty runs through the levels. It still hurts my eyes a tad, but that might just be me- if you can, try playing with the 3D on. Some levels have a really neat constant 'ember' effect flickering through the foreground, and when given actual depth it looks incredible.

Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
MSF2 shares roughly the same playstyle as its predecessor with a few notable changes. The controls are still pleasingly tight and the jump physics are forgiving. Patty is now armed with a fire hose instead of her Megaman-esque blaster, and can use it to destroy mud blocks and shoot through bending 'tunnel' blocks in much the same way as the original. The hose starts with a tiny dribble and the stream increases the longer the fire button is held down, eventually reaching over half the screen over a few seconds. This takes a bit to get used to, especially if you're used to the old jump-and-shoot, but works quite well with the new puzzle types. The water stream is also far from non-lethal- at maximum power it destroys enemies faster than the blaster did. Said enemies are mostly returning faces from MSF with a few new baddies to throw you off, but nothing will make you hurl your handheld at the wall due to unavoidable attacks or placement. Enemies remain distractions from a perfect time, not targets required for level completion- sometimes it's easier to just run right by if you're sure of your skills. The infamous colored 'locking' switch blocks from the original also return- this time with a third color to give you headaches.

MSF2 keeps the 'par' level-time goals from MSF, and some are quite strict this time. Also returning are the Ugly Twitching Dog in-level checkpoints (now contained in little fire hydrants!), and players can now find one Ugly Secret Baby (or USB, for short) per level, which Patty will evacuate to safety in a less than safe manner. The USB generally takes much more thinking to get to than the five Sisters, and some levels will definitely have you wondering how in the name of hips you're supposed to get up there/into there/around that.

Sound: 9 / 10
Jake "virt" Kaufman's signature synth sounds again appear as the background music for MSF2 from the title screen to the unimaginably cheesy and awesome credits theme. A few songs pay homage to tracks from the original either in feel alone or directly through the melodies, and for those of us without much money to throw around, Kaufman has again put the entire soundtrack and a host of remixes up for free download on his Bandcamp page in any digital audio format you want with the option to pay what you like if you feel so inclined. In-game sound effects are present but not intrusive, and Patty now has a handful of new voice clips along with re-recorded versions of her old ones- all of which are downright adorable.

I would have actually given MSF2 a perfect ten here if not for two factors. One, while minor, is that the game's sound balance seems to be off a tad- at times I found myself unable to hear the sound effects at all or could hear them mixing together due to the background music, which is quite loud and lacks an individual volume slider- turn your 3DS's volume all the way up while playing and you can feel your top screen vibrate. The other is that Kaufman included a few more distracting screechy, distorted bits similar to dubstep in a few songs, which I am not exactly fond of. Neither detract from the overall experience in a notable way.

Story: N / A
As usual, the plot is mostly a throwaway backstory to make way for the gameplay itself. This time around Patty Wagon is a firefighter instead of a policewoman, and must save the reformed Hooligan Sisters (well, reformed except for possibly one) from various locations that are both on fire and trying to kill you. One has to wonder just how they keep getting into these scenarios. At any rate, the story is, again, mostly ignored, as evidenced by the digital manual, which is an almost exact copy of that of the original with a few words changed here and there.

Replayability 8 / 10
Similar to the first game, this is where MSF2 shines. While it can again be beaten in a few hours, tops, the par level time goals are much stricter this time, as previously stated, along with the levels themselves being much harder and puzzling at points. The secret babies sometimes take a lot of thinking to get to as well.

The original game shipped with sixteen levels, with five more being added later due to complaints that the game was too short. MSF2 again ships with just sixteen levels, with the promise of more coming as free downloadable content. It's still a reasonably long game, especially if you're going for par times on every level (which you should be), and for only six U.S. dollars and just over 300 blocks on your SD card, there aren't many games on the Eshop that provide better value for your money. However, if you own a WiiU, I'd suggest holding out for the inevitable MSF2HD port, aforementioned inevitability being the main reason MSF2 only receives an eight in this category- if you have no plans to get one, go ahead and grab the 3DS version.

FINAL SCORE: 8.625 avg., rounded up to 9

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/20/13

Game Release: Mighty Switch Force! 2 (US, 06/13/13)

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