MIGHTY SWITCH FORCE! COLLECTION

DEVELOPER: Wayforward
PUBLISHER: Wayforward
EXPECT TO PAY: $29 AUD
AVAILABLE VIA: STEAM, GOG & MICROSOFT STORE

This bundle draws together the original and remastered versions of Mighty Switchforce 1, along with Mighty Switchforce 2 and the multiplayer Mighty Switch Force Academy. At their core, these are platforming-puzzle games which challenge players to arrest/rescue everybody in a level (depending on whether player character Patricia Wagon - or 'Patty Wagon' - is acting as a Police Officer or Firefighter), and then make it to your trusty robot sidekick.

Alongside a variety of cartoonish foes (some of which are integral to solving the puzzles), populating these levels are a variety of blocks which you can, at the press of a button, bring to the foreground (letting you jump on them) or to the background (which lets you pass unimpeded). These blocks are set in alternating patterns, meaning some will come to the front whilst others retreat. Some blocks can be ‘locked’ by standing on them, Others, if you occupy their space when they come to the fore, will shoot the player out in a specified direction. They can also be used for taking out baddies – and yourself. With the sole exception of the ‘cannon blocks’, if you happen to be standing in the space a block will occupy when it comes to the front you’ll get treated to the sight of your character being catapulted face-first into the glass of your monitor. Do this too many times, and you fail the stage and have to start all over again.

At the beginning, these blocks are simply puzzles, but as the game progresses they increasingly become a challenge in split-second timing, especially if you’re trying to set the speed record for each stage. Some stages will require you to fly between cannon blocks, timing the switches in order to be caught in another cannon block. Others require split-second reactions to jump past the wall of a background L-shaped series of blocks, and then bring them to the front to provide a safe platform to land upon. By far the most challenging levels are where manual control of the switching is taken away from you, forcing you to time your action with way more precision than previously.

As platformers, these can’t be faulted. Best played with a controller, the controls are tight and responsive, and any failures will be due to your own errors. Also, they easily walk the line between challenging and downright frustrating (with perhaps the exception of the last level in MSF1).

Unlike MSF 1 & 2, Mighty Switch Force Academy shakes things up be allowing up to four players (on the same computer, provided you’ve got enough controllers) to work in tandem to arrest the targets. In order to get the fastest time, teamwork really needs to be tight, as each player can control the switching of the blocks. If you’re feeling more competitive, though, you can opt to engage in a chaotic, all-out vs mode.

Upbeat, cutesy, family friendly and with a bopping soundtrack (which seems to be a feature of Wayforward’s games), Mighty Switch Force! Collection is sure to appeal to the younger gamers, while also delivering a challenge for more seasoned gamers. If you’re looking for a family-friendly platformer, which challenges your reasoning and reflexes, the Mighty Switch Force! Collection can definitely be recommended.■

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