Platform: 3DS (eShop)
Release Date: June 13, 2013
A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
Mighty Switch Force! 2 has the innate honor of being WayForward's second original IP to get a sequel, only behind the purple-haired genie Shantae herself. As such, it's easy to assume the first Mighty Switch Force! was a pretty big success, or at least large enough for WayForward to consider building it into its own series.
Not only was it one of the best games to release on the eShop in its time, but it also had one of the best soundtracks as well (thanks to composer Jake Kaufman). Can this sequel leave up to the original's legacy, though, or is it up in flames?
Once again, protagonist Patricia Wagon is on the call to save the day, but this time she's suiting up to fight some fires and rescue some people rather than chase down escaping criminals. Ironically enough, the same girls she had pursued in the last game, the Hooligan Sisters, are now reformed and the table is turned as you attempt to rescue them from a blazing inferno around them. And instead of your trusty energy gun, you'll be using a special fire hose to douse flames and break apart mud blocks with.
Initially, I was a bit worried that this slight change in mechanics would result in only a marginal difference from the first game, but as I kept playing, it was apparent that there's a bit more than meets the eye. While it's true that the box/barrier switching mechanic is still very much the same here (and there are some reused ideas), the fires and flames themselves introduce an interesting new mechanic into the mix. There are fires that you can permanently put out, and then ones that are actually stoves which will only put out temporarily before reigniting; some of the newer puzzles use these as an impetus for faster problem solving and thinking on your feet (especially if you're standing on them) while you try to figure out the switch mechanics for a puzzle.
You'll also use Patricia's hose to spray a path through pre-defined switch puzzle openings that you need to arrange in a proper order so that the water reaches through to break apart mud blocks and the like. It's a fascinating new way to create puzzles and obstacles at the same time. Speaking of which, the focus in this game is still on speed-running, to a degree. It's still optional, as you can play through without it, but a lot of the replay value comes from trying to best the "par" time, and for the most part, it's quite a challenge.
Also new to this game is the addition of Ugly Secret Babies, which players will remember this joke started in the first game with the Ugly Checkpoint Dog, who still continues his job here. The USB (as he's called for short) is an easter egg of sorts that becomes increasingly harder to find and get to in later levels; it's another challenge that WayForward has tossed into the game should speedrunning prove to be too much of a breeze for you, and it's a welcome addition as it really does introduce some really tough puzzle solving later on.
If there's one thing that I have to dock against MSF2, it's that it reuses a lot of the enemies from the first game. There are a few new enemies here and there, but for the most part, it's the ones you've seen before or slight variants on them. Otherwise, the game still looks and sounds fantastic. Composer Jake Kaufman's sizzling soundtrack in this game is arguably better than even the first game's, which is a huge achievement in itself. Most are retro-inspired tunes intermixed with some dubstep and electronica, and almost all are incredibly catchy and pretty great; I'd be remiss if I didn't mention you can download it on Kaufman's bandcamp page.
Even with new mechanics, it can often be tough for a sequel to one-up its predecessor, but WayForward has seemingly done it here. Almost everything in the original game has been made even better here, even if the switching mechanic isn't as fresh as it was in the original. Mighty Switch Force! 2's biggest downfall is that it's still a relatively short game, but if you can stomach that, you'll find a lot to like in this charming little sequel.
+ New hose mechanic changes up puzzles in a meaningful way
+ Controls are tight; visuals have a great aesthetic
+ Soundtrack is fantastic; one of the best of the year
- Still a short game
- Some assets were reused from the first game, like certain enemies
Overall Score: 8 (out of 10)
Mighty Switch Force! 2 is a great example of a sequel done right. It's still short, but manages to introduce a great new mechanic that changes things up in a challenging new way. Plus, the soundtrack is bangin'.