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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (477)

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Mighty Switch Force! Co... 2.5/5
Aegis of Earth: Protono... 3/5
Torchlight III 2.5/5
Cyberpunk 2077 3.5/5
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks... 4.5/5
Eiyuden Chronicle: Risi... 3/5
Psychonauts 2 4.5/5
Castle in the Clouds DX 4/5
Ocean's Heart 4/5
Just Die Already 2/5
Sable 2.5/5
Midnight Castle Succubus 4.5/5
Tower and Sword of Succ... 4/5
Thronebreaker: The Witc... 3/5
Battletoads (2020) 1.5/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4.5/5
Biomutant 4/5
Dragon Quest Builders 2 4.5/5
Journey to the Savage P... 4.5/5
Wasteland 3 4.5/5
Daemon X Machina 3.5/5
Earthlock 2.5/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
SolSeraph 3/5
ActRaiser 4.5/5

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Mighty Switch Force! Collection   PC (Steam) 

Definitely Not Up to the ‘Shantae’ Standard    2.5/5 stars

The ‘Mighty Switch Force’ IP by WayForward, the Single-A development team better known for the ‘Shantae’ series of platformers as well as the excellent remaster of “DuckTales,” began as digital-only releases on the Nintendo 3DS, with the second game in the series receiving an equally-non-corporeal release on the ill-fated WiiU. The series would not leave the prison of Nintendo’s digital ecosystem until 2019, with the multi-platform release of “Mighty Switch Force Collection” (“MSFC”) on Steam, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live.

As someone who didn’t care about the 3DS or its miserable library of portable ruinations of Nintendo IPs or its handful of exclusives, I quite literally had never heard of ‘Might Switch Force’ until one fateful day when I had the opportunity to Build My Own Bundle on Fanatical, the digital game keytailer. There were two games in the list of options I definitely wanted to buy, but I needed a third. Briefly perusing the remaining games’ titles on Co-Optimus, the dedicated coop game database, I saw that “MSFC,” which was one of the bundle options, professed to have a cooperative campaign. I added it to my bundle, and ended up with three new games which cost roughly $3.33 a piece. Unfortunately, only one of the games in “MSFC” actually has coop, and it doesn’t do it very well.

“MSFC” is mostly ‘fine’ from an audiovisual and technical perspective. The compilation itself includes 4 titles: “Mighty Switch Force,” “Mighty Switch Force 2,” “Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition,” and “Mighty Switch Force Academy.” Unfortunately, that’s only three different games, since the Hyper Drive Edition is just an HD remaster of the original game. Both “Mighty Switch Force” and “Mighty Switch Force 2” employ snazzy 2D pixel art of the variety WayForward has been known for. Unfortunately, both of those games started life as 3DS titles, so the aspect ratio they use is incredibly cramped and claustrophobic, making it difficult, if not impossible, to see what’s coming up in fast-moving action sequences.

“Mighty Switch Force Academy” is the only ‘new’ game in the collection, which was originally designed and built around non-3DS hardware, and it looks significantly better, with a typical full view of each stage. Of course, this full view means that the action has the opposite problem of the preceding ‘Mighty Switch Force’ titles, as it’s a bit too zoomed out, making it difficult to see where the player characters are at times.

Audiowise, “MSFC” features a cheerful, if not particularly memorable, soundtrack and a variety of vocal quips by the main protagonist. But, in general, it comes across as very basic, and could easily be played muted on the subway without headphones without really missing out on anything.

Technically, “MSFC” is just as middle-of-the-road acceptable as every other presentation category. Each game is easily accessible from the main menu, and it’s easy to back-out of the currently selected game to play any of the others without having to restart anything or fiddle with a separate launcher program. Xinput support is good on the PC version, picking up mixed-generation Xbox controllers for multi-player with no fuss, and further allowing full input customization.

Oof! The ‘Mighty Switch Force’ series is one of those throwbacks that pretty much tells the entire story in the ‘back of the box’ blurb (even though there is no box for any game in this series). Apparently, at some undetermined point in the future, our heroine, a lady cop named Patricia Wagon (hurr, durr, as in paddy wagon, hurr), employs a cybernetic helmet that allows her to manipulate the environment in her never-ending pursuit of the Hooligan Girls, a gang of universally-blonde, curvy twits who are constantly escaping from prison, but whose only real crime seems to be making Instagram-worthy duck lips while striking vaguely sexy poses with their prison manacles, leg irons, and old-school ball-and-chains.

And that’s LITERALLY all there is to it. There’s no actual text in any parts of the games, with post-stage still placards taking the place of any sort of cutscene. Nothing makes any sense, and without even a shred of excuse narrative, I found it very difficult to like any of the alleged ‘characters’ or care about what was going on.

Each game in the “MSFC” is fairly short. However, the runtime for the collection is really difficult to pin-down due to the series’ obsession with speedrunning. Yeah, if you’re like me and really don’t like speedrunning or care about getting the speedrunning-related achievements, you can probably knock-out the entire “MSFC” in around 10-15 hours. If, on the other hand, you’re obsessed with ‘mastering’ every facet of the game and want to beat your head against the wall trial-and-erroring your way to the fastest times and beating all the ‘par’ times, it’ll definitely take a lot longer. Moreso if you want to play both the ‘original’ and ‘remastered’ versions of the first game. Personally, I couldn’t wait to be done with this collection.

The ‘Mighty Switch Force’ series is, at its heart, a combination of Puzzle-Platformer and Speedrunning-Sim. Each game in the series has somewhere around 20-30 stages, with most unlocked by completion of the previous stage, which are called ‘incidents’ for… flavor reasons, I guess. There’s no world hub or map screen, just a menu that allows the player to select and play any unlocked incident. Each incident has a par time, and the games further keep track of best times for e-peen waggling via online leaderboards.

Mechanically, the Puzzle-Platforming in “MSFC” is deceptively complex. When we first started, Chris quipped that the game reminded him of a “low-key, simplistic ‘Mega Man,’” which is actually way off the mark. Yes, the player controls Patricia, whose default costume is blue and white, and she has a *pew pew* blaster gun, but that’s where the superficial similarities to ‘Mega Man’ end.

In general, there are NOT a lot of enemies to blast or jump over. Instead, each stage is filled with a large variety of blocks, boosters, teleporters, and other mechanical objects that can be ‘switched’ (hence the title) into-or-out-of the background. Foreground objects are interactive, while background objects are not. However, if Patricia attempts to switch an object from the background to the foreground while standing in front of it, it will most likely kill her. “Mighty Switch Force 2” further adds a water hose mechanic and makes Patricia a firefighter instead of a cop for *reasons*.

In addition to interactive and non-interactive pieces of world geometry, each stage typically contains 5 Hooligan Girls (though it can be more) who must be captured/rescued before Patricia’s ridable robot shows up and allows the player to evacuate the stage. Hooligans are frequently in plain sight, but are sometimes hidden inside mud bricks (?) or safes (?!) that must be broken either with Patricia’s gun or by blasting conveniently-placed walking-bomb enemies.

Patricia has three hearts as a health meter, allowing her to get hit or respawn 3 times in the course of a single stage. ‘Cookies’ can be found in most stages that restore a missing heart when eaten, but can’t take her above the maximum of 3.

In general, I found the Puzzle-Platforming in “MSFC” to range from ‘okay’ to ‘infuriating,’ with most of my gripes focused on stages that require the player to have perfect twitch reflexes to send Patricia flying through a sequence of several boosters in a row, changing direction with each booster, but killing her or making her start over from the first booster on a flub. Other general frustrations include a few a stages where the platforming seems like it requires a bit too much pixel-perfection. Fans of speedrunning and skill mastery will probably enjoy endlessly replaying incidents to get better and better times, but I had enough just getting through each incident once with a terrible multiple-bogey time.

While I had no expectations going in, my biggest disappointment with “MSFC” definitely comes down to the cooperative experience. Only ¼ of the included titles having coop was a let-down, but the fact that “Mighty Switch Force Academy” doesn’t even have GOOD coop just ruined the entire experience. One to four players can all attempt to play “Mighty Switch Force Academy” at the same time, but with how hectic and mechanically complex the switching mechanics become after a few simple tutorial (and ‘classic’) stages, the coop experience almost feels more like old-school taking turns in the original “Super Mario Bros.” than a game with multiple players tackling the same problems at once. It’s incredibly easy to inadvertently kill other players in coop, either by dropping them onto spikes or by blasting them with a background object switch, and if one player runs out of hearts and dies, the entire level is a failure, so there’s no incentive to have sacrificial lambs. Indeed, two of the stages in “Mighty Switch Force Academy” feel literally impossible with more than one player, which is an unforgivable design flaw, since the entire purpose of cooperative play is to make things easier instead of harder.

For $3.33 in a Fanatical Bundle, “Mighty Switch Force Collection” fell flat in my estimation. With very little coop, very poor coop, and far too many single-player games in the series hampered by handheld-console-tunnel-vision, I didn’t get much enjoyment out of the series, and was simply glad to be ‘done’ with it. I was mainly willing to give the series a chance in the first place due to my enjoyment of WayForward’s ‘Shantae’ series and “DuckTales Remastered,” but “MSFC” doesn’t even come close to the standard set by those titles. If you’re into speedrunning or you’re one of those people who think that ‘being really good at videogames’ is something to include on resumes and dating profiles, you’ll probably get way more out of this series than I did.

Presentation: 3/5
Story: 1/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Overall (not an average): 2.5/5



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