Imagine a bunch of giant Mechs were ready to take down the world and it was up to you to stop them… think you’re up to the task? Well, that’s what you’ll be doing in Mechstermination Force – the 2D-shooting boss-rush title from Hörberg Productions that has just made its way to the Nintendo Switch.
Mechstermination Force’s gameplay is based around bringing down a ton of giant Mech enemies, with the player tasked with blasting away at their armour in order to find and destroy their weak spots, all whilst avoiding the barrage of attacks they send your way. You’re armed with a range of guns that you can shoot at enemies with (it reminded me a little bit of Contra in this sense) whilst you’ve also got a melee weapon to deal some powerful blows to each Mech’s flashing red weak spot in order to finish them off. Sounds simple, right? Well, for the most part it is, but Mechstermination Force’s bosses are so big that you’ll actually have to climb them at times too, meaning there’s just as much time spent shooting away at your enemies as there is finding the perfect moment to bounce between the platforms on their body to reach their weak spot. It might sound a little daunting, but it actually makes Mechstermination Force feel that little bit more original than similar titles in the boss-rush genre and… well… it’s just a heck of a lot of fun to play.
There’s a lot of variety to be found when battling against the fourteen bosses, with each one forcing the player to approach taking them down in different ways. It’s never just a case of finding the weak spot and aiming at it, with the Mechs constantly changing up their attacks, transforming mid-battle, and putting the player in difficult situations where they’ll have to be just as defensive as they are offensive if they want to survive. Once you finally get through that armour and find the flashing red weak spot though you’ll know that the Mech’s time is close to coming to an end, but, of course, this also means they’re going to up the ante as far as the difficulty is concerned, so you never get a moment to relax and finish them off and have to get ready for whatever nasty attack comes your way next.
It’s certainly a game that you can expect to die in a lot (I had over a hundred deaths by the time I was done), but it’s one that feels fair too. Mechstermination Force is tough, but not ‘throw your JoyCon at the wall and swear loudly’ tough – it’s finely balanced.
At least you can improve your character in order to keep up with the tough foes, with every victory over a Mech seeing you return to your home base where you can interact with NPCs, re-battle previously defeated enemies to earn extra cash or earn high scores, or spend your cash to earn new upgrades. These upgrades include new and improved weapons, gadgets (got to get those Boost Boots for the double jump) or just extra health – they’re the kind of things that are an absolute must if you want to make your way to the end of the game. Admittedly, it does get to a point where going to the base feels like a simple formality where you just head to the shop and move on to the next enemy, but there was something homely and comforting about the place after taking part in an epic battle against one of your giant foes.
Between the constant battling as well as your ability to improve your character’s skills and gear, there’s an incredibly satisfying process to Mechstermination Force’s gameplay. The difficulty progresses at a rate that feels fair and ensures that you’re always challenged, the different Mechs constantly bring something new for the player to tackle, whilst the fact that the game feels slick to play and provides plenty of action ensures that it just never stops being fun. Add to that the inclusion of local two player co-op and you’ll quickly find that Mechstermination Force is a little bit special.
The only real obvious flaw I found in the game was with the controls. Now in honesty this may be more of a personal thing, especially since I’ve played through a heck of a lot of 2D platformers as of late, but I found that jumping around could feel a little bit clunky. There are plenty of moments in the game where you’ll have to run around and jump quickly to specific spots, but I felt like the game didn’t always offer the accuracy to do so with ease. Fortunately, it’s something you’ll adjust to the more you play through the game, but it did cause a few frustrating moments early on.
The shooting itself could be a little fiddly too, but that was mainly due to aiming and movement both being assigned to the left stick. Crouching and shooting gives you the chance to actually line up your gunfire properly, but given that Mechstermination Force’s enemies force you to move around a lot it could take some practice before you’re able to balance moving and shooting perfectly.
I’ve got to give a quick shout-out to Mechstermination Force’s cartoon-style visuals – they didn’t only add a comic book-like flair to each showdown, but they managed to feel vibrant and visually appealing when played in both the Switch’s portable mode and on a TV. I’ll be the first to admit that at first glance I thought that the game just looked a little bit generic but the more time I spent taking down each Mech and seeing how the battlefield changes as the encounter goes on, the more I started to appreciate how great everything looked.
Developer: Hörberg Productions
Publisher: Hörberg Productions
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch