Hosing down the formula.
You may recall that I loved Mighty Switch Force back when it debuted on the 3DS eShop in late 2011, and I learned to love it again when the level pack was released a few months later. And then, of course, I loved Mighty Switch Force HD, which was a launch title for the Wii U. You would think I’d be Switch Forced out, but that’s a silly assumption—I’ve spent the last few days tackling Mighty Switch Force 2, a proper sequel that changes up the gameplay while retaining the core block-switching mechanic that made the original so compelling. It’s a worthy sequel to be sure, but there are a few caveats along the way.
Patricia Wagon has traded in her police badge and blaster for a fireman helmet and a fire hose, and she’s sent to various areas that are on fire. Once more, Patty’s mission is to save the (mostly) reformed Hooligan Sisters by solving puzzles and blasting enemies. Each stage has a new goal, as well: there’s a lost baby somewhere that Patty may (optionally) rescue, and I wholeheartedly recommend doing so. Her method of rescuing the tyke is hilarious and I never got tired of it—be sure to play with the volume up.
Aside from the usual block switching, Patty must now deal with mud blocks (which can be watered down to nothing), wood blocks (which can be burned), and complex pipe mazes that guide Patty’s hose to a specific point. These pipe mazes are controlled with lock blocks, a holdover from the original game. They were my least favorite part of Mighty Switch Force, and I can’t say I’m that thrilled to see them back—much less with a third lock block color. Incident 14 especially made me want to tear my hair out; it has three different lock block colors, normal switch blocks, and pipe mazes. I’d consider Incident 14 to be the game’s low point, but you’ll get through it eventually. You may find it tough, if not impossible, to hit most par times during your first playthrough, but don’t worry—like in the first game, beating it once unlocks a new weapon that’s basically a win button (there's also a nice unlockable callback to MSF HD).
As usual, the game looks fantastic, and the 3D effect really pops at full power. The Hooligan Sisters are all dressed distinctly and have cute animation cycles; try hosing them down for some chuckles. Mostly though, the game doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor graphically, which is fine with me. Jake Kaufman is back on the music, and it’s as wonderful as always. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a reprisal of “Whoa, I’m in Space Cuba,” which is my favorite track from the entire series.
I really enjoy Mighty Switch Force 2, and I've managed to rescue all the babies and beat all the par times, although the lock block stages definitely tried my patience. It’s still a great game, but definitely more frustrating and challenging than the original. In fact, I daresay you need to play the original (and those bonus stages) before delving into the sequel, as the difficulty starts right where the first game left off, so it’s no slouch in the challenge department. If you loved the original, it’s totally worthwhile.