I've really been getting through the Switch eShop games these days, ha. I'd enjoyed both Gunman Clive games on 3DS back in 2015, and so I was interested in the developer, Bertil Horberg's follow-up, Mechstermination Force. Horberg described the game as a combination of Shadow of the Colossus and the Contra games, and that description is spot on. Basically you're tasked with battling 14 bosses, many of whom you'll have to climb your way up to defeat.

I like the Contra games in general, but I'm not really too big a fan of boss fights, so I was already sort of only cautiously optimistc about the game. There's a lot to like about it. The hand-drawn aesthetic of the visuals are good, and all the familiar weapons from the Contra games are here. You have to earn enough of the in-game currency to unlock them and many of them aren't that useful, but once I'd unlocked the spread gun I was pretty happy to make that my default weapon. You cycle through the weapons with one button, which is a little awkward, but the shoulder buttons are needed in order to latch onto metal surfaces. Climbing works pretty well in general, but I found the jumping and running to be really floaty and too light. The weapons are fun, and even though the bosses are well designed in general, a lot of them just feel like generic giant humanoid or animal-inspired robots and don't have much personality. A notable exception is a trio of robots who gang up on you and who have much more entertaining attacks than the others. The music is a little on the bland side, and, also like the Contra series, I found the game dragged on when playing solo: the fights just end up taking too long. Co-op is another story, though, and with a buddy the game is way more fun, and it's easier to make progress. Rounding things off, there's a cute little Easter egg feature where you can romance the NPCs who hang around the central hub between missions, and to extend the game's longevity there are also 4 possible stars to earn for each battle (3 for target times, and 1 for getting through completely untouched).

For a lot of players the game will probably take you a few hours to get through, but I guess I've gotten soft in my old age because it took me a good while longer than that. Overall I enjoyed Mechstermination Force while it lasted, although I'm hoping Horberg is more on the level of the Gunman Clive games in terms of the fun factor.


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