Mighty Switch Force 2 switches careers without switching gears

This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

Mighty Switch Force 2

Somehow, in developer WayForward's world, the professions of firefighting and law enforcement are almost identical, and primarily involve collecting the same five blonde women from dangerous positions atop tricky jumping puzzles. Between the Mighty Switch Force games, protagonist Patricia Wagon sought a career change from cop to firefighter, affecting the game very little beyond adding the occasional spot of fire, replacing her gun with a water cannon and ruining her hilariously punny name.

I am totally okay with this, because Mighty Switch Force didn't need to change. It's an impressively economical 3DS game that packs a lot of interesting phase-shifting puzzle platforming into a relatively small set of levels, and the sequel fits the same description to a tee.%Gallery-183427%

The base gameplay is exactly the same: Using your gun, jumps, and a head-mounted siren that switches some blocks on and others off, you try to rescue five women placed throughout each level, optionally racing a clock to meet an impossible "par" time. The levels start simply, with you shifting polarity to access platforms or clear a blocked path, but quickly ramp up in complexity. For example, you might have to shift special conduit blocks into the correct shape to guide your water stream into the path of a giant beetle, so you can knock it down into a trap, triggering a door to open.

Mighty Switch Force 2

The water cannon blocks are one of just a few new wrinkles you have to deal with. Lock Blocks now come in three different colors – standing on one means all blocks of that color stay in place when you switch, allowing you to adjust which blocks coincide with each other. It sounds simple, but it leads into some fantastically complicated juggling, as you realize you need this block and this block to get somewhere, but not this one. This forces you to find a specific color and toggle it, and so on.

In general, the puzzles are slightly more challenging than those in the first game – which isn't to say they're overly taxing, unless you're trying to adhere to the stressful par times. Mighty Switch Force 2 is just a bit more comfortable putting pillars of blocks in the middle of platforms, requiring you to jump, switch in midair and then switch again before you land. It's never too frustrating, but encourages mastery of the switch mechanic to maneuver quickly through each level.

Even though I'm not sure this game understands the difference between police and firefighters, it definitely understands the advantages of the portable format, with bite-sized levels that pack all their intrigue into a considerate time frame. Even if you're terrible at figuring out the switch puzzles, like me, you'll max out at around six minutes per level! The only way WayForward abandons the tenets of portable gaming is with its wonderfully funky soundtrack, which may just force you to tune out the other people in the room.

Mighty Switch Force 2 is available now on 3DS eShop for $5.99.