Mini-Reviews: Mutant Mudds/Mighty Switch Force
The 3DS gets a lot of stick. It’s Nintendo, so it’s seen as a children’s toy. It’s a handheld, so people seem to think the iOS platforms are doing exactly the same thing but cheaper. It’s 3D, so it’s all about a gimmick.
Much like the DS before it, the 3DS actually has a lot more going for it that pure gimmickry, with many games that are both larger and more innovative than the majority of those provided by the iOS platform. 3DSware has already provided us with the cheap and interesting Pullblox, and recently it’s been delving into adding innovation to proper platformers, with Wayforward Technologies Mighty Switch Force and Renegade Kid’s Mutant Mudds leading the charge. Read on for a bite-sized look at how these two titles shape up.
You play a tubby, bespectacled kid at home with his family, watching TV, when aliens attack. Not stopping to question why his homeland is made up of platforms and spikes, the child dons his jetpack and gun, then sets out to attack alien mud-beasts.
The platforming is fairly simple, with you traversing each level collecting diamonds and blasting mud monsters. Your jetpack allows a few seconds of hovering, essential for many jumps. I guess everyone in this world must have a jetpack, otherwise how would they get around.
The goal of the game, despite what’s shown in the minimal introduction, seems to be to collect as many diamonds as you can. The levels themselves look really simplistic, even for an old school-platformer, with Commodore 64-era styling (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The beauty of the game, however, comes from the core mechanic which is driven by the 3D nature of the console. As you play, you’ll see other levels in the background, also with diamonds and monsters roaming around. They look like background noise, but they’re not. You jump on an arrow panel and boom! – you’re in the background, or the foreground. You may not have noticed some of the platforms until you bounce over there, as they all merge in with the middle level nicely. The travel between the front, middle and background is a nice touch, not only visually, but as you try to work out how to get to the end. It becomes a platform puzzler as you try to figure out the best way to get around the map.
Once you’re through a level, the world map has doorways back into places you’ve been or yet to open. There’s an attic where your grandmother will sell you upgrades for a certain amount of diamonds. There are secret doorways to other levels in different worlds. There’s a lot of depth for a downloadable title game, and Mutant Mudds contrasts strikingly with the first wave of DSiWare games, showing how the service is evolving.
MIGHTY SWITCH FORCE
Mighty Switch Force is another retro-looking platformer, this time reminiscent of Mega Drive era games, like the Sonic The Hedgehog. It’s also a game that shares that era’s love of the twitch-reflex, with speed inputs being essential to progress.
You play a tiny cop girl with a flashing light on her head and a strange lack of trousers. In a future where being blond must be an arrestable offence, you must round up escaped prisoners who are exclusively young blonds. Fortunately they stay put while you run around labyrinthine levels filled with blocks to shoot and deadly monsters who can roam freely, thanks to their non-blond status in society.
The key mechanic also involves playing with things in the foreground and the background, much like Mutant Mudds. In this case, it’s reflected in your signal hat moving specific changeable blocks between the back and foreground. At first, that’s a simple mechanic to jump on platforms which you have to phase in and out of the level as you jump. Then there are monsters which can’t be killed unless you phase a block into them, crushing the beast against the screen. You get used to these mechanics, shooting and crushing your way to find the women, then get in a one-eyed mech suit and fly away, at which point Waypoint Technologies introduce a new set of mechanics. Cannon blocks shoot you around the level, and you must switch them in and out of place to get around. Then there are blocks which you can only destroy by launching ugly bob-omb type monsters with the cannon blocks. And blocks which lock in place when you’re stood on them, so you have to organise them to move in or out of sync with the rest of the map.
Mighty Switch Force screws with your noodle while forcing you to try and speed through the levels to meet the ungodly fast ‘par’, always taunting you with your slowness. Why are you so slow, damn it? Other people have done better, look at their scores! Look at their scores and weep you lackwit!
Both of these games make a great use of the 3D of the console. 3D isn’t the only great thing about the 3DS and to be honest, often gets turned off when playing games. So many 3DS games have the third dimension as an afterthought. Of course there are great uses, mainly from Nintendo (Mariokart, Ocarina of Time and Mario 3D Land), but outside of the first-party games, few people have shown they know how to utilise it.
Games like Pullblox, Mighty Switch Force and Mutant Mudds contradict that rule. They bring the 3D to the fore as a core mechanic. While, like all 3D gimmickry, it’s not necessary, it’s damn cool and makes you want to play them with the 3D on. In Mutant Mudds, the three distances move independently and look great passing each other by. Mighty Switch Force isn’t as necessary, but as shifting the blocks in and out of focus if the main power in the game, it’s handy to see and even nicer to see a plan come together in 3D.
With the 3DS XL now sitting on store shelves, both these titles are worthy of time on that systems larger sceen. Sure, they are more expensive than an app game on an iOS device, but unlike many apps that struggle to be more than a minor-destraction, Mutant Mudds and Might Switch Force are games to go back to again and again.
MIGHTY SWITCH FORCE:
Both titles reviewed on Nintendo 3DS. Games purchased by D+PAD Magazine.
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