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Portabliss: Mighty Switch Force! (3DS eShop)


Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Mighty Switch Force!

WayForward's Mighty Switch Force masquerades as a run-and-gun shooter, but the eShop game is basically a puzzle game, albeit one of the few puzzle games I can think of that's reflex-heavy enough to encourage speedrunning. That emphasis on speed allows a game with a relatively small set of levels to become a long-term pastime.

Gallery: Mighty Switch Force (3DS eShop) | 4 Photos

Robot cop Patricia Wagon (get it?) has to round up a bunch of blonde escapees on "Planet Land," in self-contained side-view levels. At first, that's a matter of simple platforming and shooting obstacles, but new elements are introduced at a rapid clip. Primarily, that means the "Helmet Siren," which causes certain on-screen blocks to move in or out of the screen, in essence turning them "on" or "off." This allows you to, say, jump up in the air through a block, then "switch" and land on that block.

Later levels introduce more quirks, like launcher blocks that you put yourself (or an enemy) into, then "switch" to activate, and walking-bomb enemies that you have to launch into breakable blocks with these launchers. You frequently have to switch with split-second timing to activate a series of launchers, or clear a path of alternating blocks in the way of a launcher. Even the act of jumping onto a block becomes a difficult task when you have to switch it on mid-jump, making sure you don't accidentally squish yourself on another block. The level designs quickly grow devious.

Here's the real trick: while the level selection is pretty small, each level has a "par" time that is, as far as I can tell, pretty much impossible to achieve. So your first time through a level is merely reconaissance -- you learn how the level works, so you can go back through it as quickly as possible.

Though I hardly feel the need to mention this for a WayForward game, the 2D art is beautiful, with vibrant, bright colors and adorable, well-animated sprites of chibi girls, robots and otherwise.

Bug Princess is available for $6.99 on the 3DS eShop. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

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