Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Five Ways Bioshock And Animal Crossing New Leaf Are Related


Ah, video games. It sure is a fun pass-time for us isn't it? We do enjoy entering into another universe and partaking in different tasks to receive some sort of satisfaction or enjoyment out of the things that we are designed to do. From jumping up platforms to rotating pieces into place to shooting countless hordes of baddies, it's all a ton of fun that we simply enjoy soaking up. Recently I have come across two games that have been taking up a great amount of my attention. Well, it's actually three, but I didn't know I was going to get Scribblenauts Unlimited as a gift. The two that I'm referring to are the ones in the title, no duh. As I kept playing each game, bouncing from surviving in a dystopian underwater city torn apart by rampant objectivism to  running around a colorful, bouncy town bustling with talking animals and currency in the form of bells, I started to find myself connected the two together to certain aspects. It could be that perhaps these two games share something similar to them that we are not aware of. Now, I know what you're thinking, how can a shooter with old-timey music be anything at all like a life simulator where you can get pieces of furniture in the form of a leaf? Well, goddamn it, I found a few things that might prove my insane concept to be semi-plausible. Sure, I could be pulling out some stuff out of my ass, but if some guy can say that all the Pixar films are taking place in the same time period (save for Brave), then I can do something of this caliber as well.

5. The economy is entirely up to your tampering

We have this thing called an economy. Supposedly it's keeping everything in order in terms of our finances. Odd, considering most economies nowadays are basically going down the shitter, but in the world of video games we can escape the harsh reality of finding it hard to purchase more video games by clinging on to the few we got and playing them ad nauseum. Another brilliant thing that games allow us to do is not worry about the true complexity that goes with tampering or managing an economy. Geopolitics, graphs, currency exchanges? Forget that, every pixelated wonderland that we go to keeps everything running like the world in the 20s, with no depression to break the good times away. least not an economical depression. Thankfully, in these games you have the ability to mend the economy to your favor, so that you can reap more of the benefits. And by god, it's sure is nice to be able to be more control of your finances. Video games almost manage to give that beautiful illusion that you're the 1% sometimes. Ahhhh...oh right the list!

So how do both of them carry out the way to swindle yourself from some economic benefits? Well, for starters, both of them involve you being able to tamper with prices that are set in the particular universe. In Bioshock, there's a straight-forward way to do this, which involves simply hacking into machines and having them reduce the price for you. This is the only and also problematic way to get lower prices because if you don't hack the machine properly, you are hurt. Animal Crossing New Leaf, on the other hand, allows you to barter with certain citizens to have them reduce the price for you. There's also being able to enact an ordinance that allows your town to be more wealthy which increases the prices of what people sell you, but also gives you more money when you sell something to them. Not to mention that you can put something for sale as cheap or as expensive as you want in the Re-Tail store. A trade system is also evident in both universes since you will have to do fetch quests for people to obtain new items that can help you. Sometimes they fair out well, other times...not so much. But with the bad, you can always turn it around and make it a good. Whether it's selling something you don't want in ACNL or robbing bodies in Bioshock. The differences in both games is that Bioshock has a more personal "every-man-for-himself" economic strategy which means that you have to look out for number one and use your own cunning to find ways to make the best of the economic climate while ACNL has you more in control of the economy and more outlets to reap its benefits.

4. You have to scavenge to survive and be cautious of what's around you. 

Whilst there is a semblance of an economy verging in both worlds, there is no doubt that you need to do a hell of a lot of work to enjoy it properly. I mean, sure, I made it sound like a cake walk, and in some senses it is. But that's when you get with the handling of the money and doing financial tasks. When it comes to finding ways to obtain the money or something that can help you get money, you have to be very cautious. Every corner that you see, you have to analyze it carefully. You have to clean it out of anything that it could possess, for anything that you find could eventually aid you. If you're not careful, you could get something that could mildly annoy you or mean complete disaster. There's a whole slew of objects out there that are destined to ruin your day and make it difficult for you to enjoy spending your currency as frivolously as a teenage girl in an American Apparel store. So you have to keep one eye on your wallet, and another on your ass.

Perhaps for some of you it seems simple to associate Bioshock as following this practice. After all, you rob desks, safes, boxes, corpses of people you kill, corpses of people you haven't killed but probably would have if it you were confronted with them alive and many more for money, health, potions, tools and so on and so forth. Sometimes you just find them lying about and take them before anyone else can. You find random booze that you drink and depending on how careful you are, this booze could be useful to you or it would have been a waste of your functional liver. Then if you have enough money from all the dead bodies you've robbed, you can go to a vending machine and either buy some more helpful items or hack the machine and then buy those helpful items. Also, as you walk along, you have to be careful of security cameras or other scavengers or otherwise you'll be broken like a chocolate bar being shared by two really hungry survivors. How in the hell does this compare to a place where you're the freakin' mayor?

Well, the thing is that in ACNL, you can't just wire all of the town's bell revenue and put it in your pockets. No, like everyone else in the world, you gotta do something to get the money. Not to mention, you'll be owing a lot of debts to a raccoon by the name of Tom Nook. So, unless you want to suffer a horrible fate or every person in middle class America, you gotta go out there and get yourself some bells. You first have to get/buy tools such as a net, a shovel, a fishing rod and a watering can. Once you have that, you catch bugs and fish, dig up fossils, break rocks with your shovel or hit the rock, hoping that money will spontaneously come out of it and shake trees to get fruit and other things out of them. Once you do all that, you then sell them to the Re-Tail shop for some bells. Then you have to go pay Tom Nook by an ATM sort of device and once that's done, it's off to another debt for a bigger house. Oh and if you think that's just simply all fine and dandy, you have to consider the risk of pitfall seeds, scorpions, spiders and maybe the odd mosquito. That and then townsfolk will want to sell you shit you may not want to buy and you have to make public works projects to make them happy, which sucks out some of your bells if you feel like helping the cause...which you should to get others to help as well. Luckily, you can go to an island and capture some more special bugs and fish, but you have to pay a guy named Kapp'n a few hundred bells to go there. And even then , you can only take 40 items back to your town to sell them.

So basically what I'm saying here is that in each game you have objects of desire that aid you in your journey by either means of protection or economy, there are things that you can use but aren't the greatest of benefits, you have threats that you must evade and/or overcome and that you might have to do meticulous tasks in order to reap a greater benefit. Perhaps in ACNL, you don't get as drastic of a blow as in Bioshock since you can save your bells at that ATM device I was talking about earlier and hardly ever get your bells stolen unless you buy something from Redd. To be fair though, even in the Bioshock you have Vita-Chambers that bring you back to life, and depending on how you're playing it, it doesn't deal that much of a critical blow to you. Plus, both do share the biggest threat of them all...bees!

3. The cuter denizens are the most helpful

There's a saying that goes "Beware the cute ones". I don't know who said it but they basically meant that if you see someone that looks innocent and charming, you should be wary of their motives or actions. For it could simply be a facade that is trying to snag you into something much more sinister and catastrophic. In this case, that's not really what's going on. The people that look at you and instantly give you diabetes are the ones that have the insulin to help you back to your normal self. So, you always want to be on the look-out for them in case you're in trouble.

In this scenario, it's more plain to see that ACNL is the one that shines through. You have a great deal of citizens in your town that have very adowable features on them. They can give you items for free or provide fetch-quests that gladfully reward you. If you talk to them, you get more information about the world that you live in and you can use those tips to help you out further on your aimless quest. Then there's of course Isabelle...who the fanbase as declared as basically hands down, the cutest friggin' thing you've ever seen. By that logic, I guess she really does a lot for you. You'd be pretty much right, for she is the one that tells you how satisfied your citizens are, allows you to change the town flag and the town tune, and even helps you create public works projects. Truly, she is the one that you can count on to have the greatest of times in the realms of the game. What mirrors that in Bioshock? Why the Little Sisters of course!

While not as plentiful as the citizens of ACNL, the Little Sisters are the precious little bundles of joy that you will need to survive in the hell sinkhole known as Rapture. This time, there's more effort that goes into obtaining the reward than simply just talking to someone and finding something that they want (although to be fair, some of your citizens to ask for OUTRAGEOUS things). See, if you want your Little Sister, you'll have to take down the Big Daddies that protect them. They ain't no walk in the park, as their attacks pack quite the punch. You have to be damn sure you have everything that you need in order to take them down. Then once you have the Little Sister you have the choice of harvesting them or rescuing them. Much like in Animal Crossing, if you do the dignified act, you get rewarded for it. You get a good amount of Adam that you can spend on power ups and if you rescue three in a row, you receive a present. At the same time, you can also be a heartless fiend and harvest them, taking away a lot of Adam that you can use for more power ups. The only thing you obtain from cruelty in ACNL is moderate amusement at the reactions of your citizens.

2. You have an illusion of choice

If there's one thing that we like to have...or if you want to be edgy, believe that we have, it's the idea of free choice. We can decide whether or not we want to spend our money and if we want to spend our money, we can look at an array of options and pick the one that suits our needs. It's something that some of us may not appreciate once our options are robbed from us and we're forced to walk a narrow line. In games, for the general sense, you're basically walking that line, hoping that you finally reach the end and get what you want. Occasionally there are games where you have the compass pointing in any direction that you desire, although they usually have moments where they throw your ass down and demand you follow with what they say. Then there are the games that make it seem like you have a compass, but the more you play the game, the more you see how broken your compass is, and how it only points into one direction.

Each title has their own way of chaining you to a wall as you venture into the toy-box of the possibilities. Bioshock, for instance, forces you to follow a man by the name of Atlas. He's your guide and asks if you would kindly help him reunite him with your family. Once you find that the ruler of Rapture, Andrew Ryan, has killed his family, he then makes you go to Ryan and forces you to kill him. It's made very evident that you're bound to Atlas's whims when Ryan gives you the infamous "A Man Chooses, A Slave Obeys" speech and you end up doing what Atlas wants you to do in the first place. Sure, you have the choice of harming or saving the Little Sisters; yes, you can find a dozen different ways to get rid of scavengers or get by security systems and no doubt you can combine your different abilities to best suit your situation, but in the end, you are subject to the voice of Atlas. Anything he says, you go with it. You can try to ignore his pleas, but you don't progress anywhere. You just stay where you are, like a sitting goose.

ACNL has the same sort of premise, only it presents it in a more bizarre manner. You are forced into your position as a mayor. When you arrive into town, you're magically given this authority position. At first, it sounds fun. Being in a town where you're magically declared the ruler? What's not to love! You still have the ability to do whatever you want. If you want to dig holes around the place, go fishing, talk to people, walk around aimlessly, you have the right to do so. With that said, the debt that has been thrown on your head by the Nooks still looms and you can't avoid not paying it. Same goes for your responsibilities as mayor. You will have to find things for other people, you will have to initiate public works projects. If you want the admiration and the cool features, you will have to be the servant to this town. Distract yourself all you want, you can't avoid that you are bound to the town, like the devil is to the souls of sinners.

1. The world is under an oppressive ruler

Yes, you heard me right. This is the most critical aspect that shows that these two games are related in their own bizarre way. In both of these realities, the person who is in charge of everything is nothing short of a fiend. They hold all power and are able to do anything it takes to assert their dominance. Few voices oppose them, and the ones that do can be silenced in mere seconds. There's not really much else I can say about what this entails as it's already self-explanatory, but trust me, it gets a whole lot more convoluted the more we look into the dictators that are in control of the world.

First, who are the kings in both worlds? In Bioshock, it's Andrew Ryan, the man they call "the Bloody King of Rapture" with a dream of creating Eden underwater. In ACNL, it's you. You might think that perhaps you're not as evil as you think, but if you really think about it, you accept the role of mayor, despite knowing how bizarre the opportunity is. You don't do the respectable decision and refuse the offer or tell them to hold the election, you roll with the idea. How do each of these rulers enforce their power to the citizens? With Ryan, he sends minions after you, rigs areas to assure your demise and constantly threatens you the more and more you try to foil him. You, on the other hand, enact ordinances that the town must follow once the proper paperwork are done, hit people with nets, tell Isabelle about any "problematic citizens" to which she promptly deals with, trap them with holes that you dig around them and force them to buy your belongings at the Re-Tail shop. Some might do them all and even more, while others would do two of things above, either way, you do something to show that you're in charge. Both also are supposed to be ruling the land for as long as your lives give for, but the chilling reality is that the one who really rules the world isn't's someone much more powerful.

See, in the worlds of Rapture and (insert your town name here), there lives someone in the shadows who truly asserts the power and uses you. Frank Fontaine (aka Atlas) is the man that truly controls Rapture. In the tapes that you find, it's made clear to most citizens that the one who really is in charge of the city isn't Ryan, but Fontaine, who has manipulated a great deal of people to follow him and challenge Ryan to becoming the ruler. All along he uses you with the trigger phrase of "would you kindly", causing you to do everything he says, which is why you can't do much else other than follow with what he has to say. Once you kill Ryan off, Fontaine reveals himself and admits that he has been using you for his longest con ever. How about ACNL? Why, it's Tom Nook! While much more benevolent than Fontaine, Nook still has you knee deep in debt and has more money than you since he's in the real estate business and has his children helping him by having them open up a shop that you have to go into if you want to receive certain critical items. Even though people don't rebel against you and hardly even consider Tom to be the real owner of the town, you can see it in their eyes that they aren't truly afraid of you, but rather the raccoon that could kick them out at any given moment due to mortgages.

So there you have it! Now, if you'll excuse me...I'm gonna see if there's some hilariously bizarre fanfiction that has this crossover and possibly do a dramatic reading of it for my own amusement.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Or Well! - When National Security Meets Totalitarianism

It seems that the world that we live in is entering a phase of complete and utter fear. Not only from terrorists, outside enemy forces, nature, semi-threatening co-workers, and various phobias to speak of, but from ourselves. Mainly, when I say ourselves, I mean the government. It's bizarre to think that we are worried of an establishment that is supposed to be working for our benefit, but we've often seen that their words are hiding a greater agenda. An agenda that could be fueled by some other selfish need. At times they merely cover up what lies behind closed doors, other times they don't even follow with what they originally say. So it's hard to tell when what they do is in our best interest or is in their best interest. With the issue of security on the minds of many, especially in times when attacks in national soil can come without much warning, it's safe to say that we've tried as much as we could to stay secure. The government swore to us that it would keep the bad guys at bay and it made promises to increase security. We were fine with that back then because we were scared. It came with its hassles like not being able to bring certain things on a plane and getting awkward patdowns, but we (somewhat) adjusted to it. Now, with the reveal of PRISM having been in effect for a while, we realize that perhaps we might have surrendered too much in the heat of passion. Except the problem with that is that we didn't willingly give the government the power. The government asserted the power on it's own. That, in turn, has caused a whole slew of problems.

PRISM, as we know, has been monitoring our Skype calls, our chat logs, our emails...basically anything that we usually use the internet for. And there's a facility somewhere that harvests all this information. Surprisingly enough, it's still smaller the the amount of porn there is in the world. Joking aside, they have a grand pile of our information without our permission and they're sifting through it, bit by bit, until they find something incriminating. Even though that's quite the stack to sift through, it's still a bit troubling that there might be something in there that relates to us that the government can be aware about. Perhaps we're not one with anything illegal to hide and there is nothing that truly incriminates us, but at the same time there's the issue of them manipulating the information in a manner that it plays against us. After all, context is important. Matters are more confusing when you consider that the way they target people might be arbitrary considering that the accuracy rate for foreignness is 51%. We have been given information to suggest that the common person isn't going to completely under review of terrorism and that no one really is getting targeted, but the power that can be exerted by the program can still be abused one way or the other. It becomes more subjective if one would put their faith in the government or not. The main issue though, is still again, that they put forth this initiative without us knowing about it.

See, if we were aware of what happened, this wouldn't have the media making a huge scandal over the whistleblower and the policy itself. If anything, that scandal would have happened when people were debating on whether or not to push forward the proposal. We'd be accepting the fact that the government would be spying on us then because we let it pass. It still might be unsettling for others, but at least the whole public is aware of it. The mere concept that this was pushed without us having knowledge of it creates more alarm than what the PRISM program has to offer, but it doesn't make matters better that what the program's directive is to invade our private lives for the "sake of security". What they have done with PRISM shows that the government is not concerned with the voice of the people. If they're not focused on the people that they're supposed to represent, then they're more invested in their own needs, and most of the time a government desires power and control. Governments who make it their goal to desire power and control are pretty much around everywhere, even in the more benevolent and structured of societies, but when it's the primary goal and they're blatantly projecting this out to the world, that's when the problem ensues, because it's when it shows that the leaders of the nation are following a more barbaric and tyrannical method of governing. To put it shortly, this is the first step towards totalitarianism.

It's not that we weren't warned by others that the government was really part of something much more despicable and twisted. Various conspiracy theorists have claimed that we were being watched in secret and that there is an illusion of "freedom" in our government. The reveal of PRISM has proven both of these concepts right, and it's sort of painful to see that what we once scoffed as a ludicrous paranoia has turned into a frightening reality. The reality is that when it comes to certain conspiracies, there is a valid point of that the government has been keeping certain matters in secrecy and not informing us properly about the events. While I am certainly not a "truther", I can't deny that it is peculiar that the US government would disclose information about an event that was supposed to be an outside attack. You'd think that the details would be a bit more available. At the same time, one can argue that it's disclosed because there's still more that needed to be clarified until a full, 99.99% factual report on the incident was made. It is also a matter of national security, and those matters should be kept private. Ironic considering that currently national security is taking away the privacy that we have. Despite the counter-argument that I presented above, knowing the secrecy that comes with national tragedies with the addition of PRISM, it is reasonable to see that perhaps the fear that the government is not playing fair with the people and that we are nearly closer to becoming a neon-sign of totalitarianism. One could say that perhaps the idea that this Orwellian nightmare is inconceivable in the modern day, but perhaps if we look elsewhere we could see that it is not that far-fetched.

There are many places where certain freedoms have been dismantled and a vast majority of people have been oppressed by powerful forces, but none exemplify the concept of complete control that the government of North Korea. North Korea has held an iron middle finger up to the world when Kim Il-Sung came into power with the policy of juche, that made the nation more reliant on promoting its own strength. His shaping of the nation glorified him to god-hood, and he has successfully altered history and writing so that it follows his favor. The only other people that revel in his glory are his children, and they have pushed the policy of juche further by emphasizing the military more and creating nuclear weapons. The nation is a police state, and there is no slandering of the great leader. A great of the people there are unaware of words that could register in their mind to insult the leader, which could either be due to the success of the propaganda created or the fear that there are government agents always nearby, assuring that they follow through with the sole agenda of the nation. North Korea has shown that the ideas of totalitarianism can take root and lead to incredibly devastating effects, so is it possible that the US may follow under this trap? On the one hand, more and more seems to point that the US is capable of enforcing total control and has exerted governmental power in a more unruly manner. But what about the size of the nation? North Korea succeeds in creating this haven for the Kims because it is a proper size for such a control to take effect. The US is larger than North Korea, therefore perhaps such a control would be near impossible. That is counteracted by the mere existence of PRISM though, so perhaps it could happen. The real importance isn't whether or not it is feasible, but rather if it will happen.

When PRISM came out, many reactions were triggered, but the only ones that matter for this to happen are those that are in seats of power such as the Senate. Some were displeased with PRISM, others thought it was a proper proposal and some even claimed that further protocol must be made to improve national security. Obama seemed to welcome the debate that would come from the reveal of PRISM, although concerning some of his commentary (particularly the one about not having 100% security and 100% privacy but we'll get to that later), it seems that he's more on the defense of PRISM, which makes sense if he wasn't going to remove the proposal that was initiated in Bush's term. It's also interesting to note that he seems to be describing the program as if it isn't as intrusive as we would think it to be, but when the program relies on looking on personal information, it's hard to take that truly into consideration. Plus, we come again to the point that this was kept secret from a great deal of people. So, it's very difficult to say what the likelihood of totalitarianism in the US taking effect is when you have representatives that are divided on the issue and a leader that is not removing the program that is causing alarm and describing said program in semi-contradictory ways, but is welcoming conversation based around it. Ultimately, if it were to happen, there would have to be a domino effect that leads to more freedoms being stripped away from the people, which then would bring up the question of whether or not people would revolt. That really depends on what is being taken away from them and who you're referring to. After all, we all choose our own battles. If it's going to happen any time soon, I very much doubt it. People are still able to have free debate and revolution is happening at the snap of injustice.

Although, I do want to talk about this issue of security vs privacy because it is a critical component of this issue. In the modern world there have been advancements. And with these advancements we are capable to be more secure as well as more vulnerable. One step forward, one step back. With the countless outlets that have been created for the sake of social interaction, those fields have provided us to be more open about ourselves and to edit our perception so that we can hide what really lies behind the screen. We have used devices less as a means to transport something to one another but as our own haven that harbors a great deal of our personal information and we don't want anyone to take advantage of this information. With that said, that personal information coming from other sources could have been essential to stopping something terrible from happening. Think about it, if your store is robbed, you'll have security cameras installed so that you will be more secure when another robbery happens. It will keep away others from robbing the store if they are aware that cameras are watching them. At the same time, the owner has the ability to do something illegal and destroy any footage that could incriminate them. Ultimately, it comes down to circumstances. If you haven't been robbed, you worry more about privacy than security because you want to keep your actions personal. If you have been robbed, you worry about security more than privacy because it's security that ensures that you can have privacy. As with all good things, balance is important, and with an issue so complex as this one, that might be problematic.

Even with the likelihood of totalitarianism taking hold in the near future in a country like the US being relatively low, the issue of PRISM is still a very important one. It's also conflicting because we desire both the security that we are protected in case of an attack and the ability to leave certain bits of information private. Should the government be given the right to look at our information, if that's how they have located/captured greater threats? Can we confide that they can look at our information and not use it against us, whether it be distortion of the facts, selling it to advertisers or using it for other terrible purposes? These questions are very much relevant and should still be the subject of conversation. Such a proposal does bring upon its own benefits to national security, but it also provides a great sacrifice and detriment to the rights that we try to uphold. Ultimately the problem of PRISM isn't so much in what it offers but in how it was introduced. Whether or not it will do any good is irrelevant when the program that we speak of wasn't something that is being currently discussed in Senate on some bill but rather an initiative that was secretly put into place. It could have been an interesting discussion that could have taken place when Obama took office, because then, it would at least show that he is willing to bring light to an issue that is of great importance to the public and have them decide in good conscious whether or not to use the program and how to use it. Instead, we had to have someone leak this information publicly and have everyone go on a panic-frenzy because of what occurred. That, to me, is what insults me more than the policy in question, because it shows that they don't care about your voice and are willing to violate the law for their own favor. It may not fully be 1984 as some may imagine it to be, but it doesn't make it any less despicable.


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Mighty Switch Force 2 Review


I’ve come a long way from where I stand when it came to the matter of cute female protagonists. I’m sure that’s not how you wanted this review to start, but I really want to point this out for my own sake. For the longest time I could remember, I was very anti-anime. Particularly with the moe style. The moe style oddly exemplified this sort of cute female character that I speak of. By god did I hate it. The wide-eyed expressions, the agonizing high-pitched voices and the grating sense that people enjoy it to such disgusting lengths. This really coincided with my hatred of unnecessary fanservice since it too shared the similar traits that moe did. And really, that hatred is what spawned me to believe that the general art style of anime, which consisted of exaggeration in an artistic and voice-acting sense, having the creator wave metaphorical keys above the audience as if that would entertain them and huge pupils, was merely just a cesspool that has harbored the two things that I despised the most about the medium. In turn, that shut me off from a great deal of games, particularly the ones that looked the most “kawaii desu ne~”. Then FLCL came by and snapped me out of my anger, although I still didn’t stand much of the cliches that were present, and I soon started to warm up to anime and the prospect of the cute female protagonist. Granted I didn’t go to buying anything moe, because I still didn’t like it but it was for other reasons.

Truth be told, even though I was okay with no longer hating the archetype of that character I didn’t find much incentive to carry it out to perhaps enjoying something that embodied that characteristic. I was more okay seeing it whenever it popped up anywhere, but I wasn’t eagerly seeking it out. I guess it wasn’t so much of the character that became relevant more so the actual content. Then came a game on the 3DS called Mighty Switch Force, which was created by Wayforward. It had Patricia Wagon, a cop who maybe in the graphical design didn’t look as adorable as she would in the art that would appear as you progressed though the game but certainly had a chirpy attitude accentuated in the dialogue and it also had some freaking good gameplay to boot. Hell, I might even go so far to say that it would be one of my top favorite games for being able to fully 180 my perception of the character archetype as well as having a creative gaming mechanic behind it. Truly, I appreciated what this game was capable of doing and I eagerly anticipated the continuation of her delightful journey. Lo and behold, a sequel came about and I downloaded it once I saw a fit opportunity to do so.

So, if you want to know the story of Mighty Switch Force 2, you have to play through the first game because I’m not giving out any spoilers as to the gripping and complex tale that is continued in this epic continuation! Actually I’m kidding. This series of games is one of those early video game industry deals where the concern isn’t so much trying to hamfist themes and existential revelations into its plot but rather making a simple, enjoyable experience. In this instance, you’re no longer a policewoman searching for the Hooligan Sisters and bringing them to justice but rather a firefighter whose saving damsels in distress whilst extinguishing fires. It’s a good thing they keep the main character a female otherwise we’d be having something making a hissy-fit in the distance. Plus, maybe it’s just me, but I think that having Patty Wagon saving dames is hilarious, especially when you listen to some of her dialogue.

Hosing the girls you’re saving is probably the most adorable thing ev-WHAT AM I SAYING?!

You start in a stage select screen and begin on a level or “incident’ where you save the gals and get in your robot to fly off to the next incident. The gameplay consists of two sole factors. The first is the platforming which consists of jumping around from place to place and shooting enemies with your fire hose. The second one, which is what makes this game unique is the switch function. When you press a button, Patty’s siren goes off and you switch around specific platforms. This mechanic is basically what ensures life or death in the game. You have to know when to press the button and which platforms will switch when you do this. Sometimes you have to do it really fast because you require a quick jump. This can also be helpful for getting rid of enemies since if they get caught in the way, they smash on the screen and make it looked cracked and then fade away. There are special blocks that work with the switch function such as blocks that can propel you to an area if you stand where they would be and then press the switch button to activate them. There’s also blocks that if you stand of them, they are unaffected by the switch and can be linked to other blocks. The addition to this game from its predecessor is that there are factors that require water. There’s fires you have to put out, enemies that burst when you fill them up with water, mud blocks that disintegrate when you spray water on them and grills that you can temporarily extinguish. I think the random fires on the stages are forcing the mechanic a bit, but since the hose makes for pushing those larger enemies away easier, I don’t mind that much. It’s very simple and very addicting so you don’t have to get so caught up in re-teaching it to yourself if you haven’t played in a while.

I don’t know whose expression is the more hilarious one…

The sound and art direction in this game is great. The effects are clear and crisp and fit to the overall feel of the game. The graphics fit very well into the burning situation that we’ve come across, particularly in the last lever where it almost feels like you’re in a Vietnam flashback. Patty’s voice sounds as happy as ever, in fact I think it’s happier than before. Mainly when you select them from your 3DS. It also emotes a bit more but I think that’s also do to the dialog. I’m not sure if that’s incredibly relevant in the appeal you’ll get from a more gameplay-centric game, but I enjoy it. The soundtrack is also phenomenal. They got Jake Kaufman to do the OST again and he rocked it again. The title music sounds much more bombastic and daring, the select music is much more bouncy and laid-back, the tally screen music is catchy as hell and the final level music is just magnificent! The credits is also pretty good, even if its cheesy as hell. Go ahead and download it, he has up and you can pay whatever you want. It’d be nice to give him a bit of money as a donation, he’s a very talented music-maker.

It’s worth noting that this game has only 16 levels. It would make it somewhat short, and I guess that’s true, but the game’s relatively cheap as far as games go so you do get your money’s worth. Plus, they’re not as easy as you’d think. Aside from the puzzles that you have to complete, you also have a time limit. You’re not really punished if you don’t meet the deadline, but if you’re like me and you don’t like to feel like a chump, you’ll try desperately to do it under said time limit. That takes a lot of time, to be honest. Not only are there times where you feel that you died by some idiotic error, but once you do manage to complete after countless trial and error, you still manage to do it over the time limit. I’d say that it’s near impossible, but I’ve managed to reach the limit after much repetition so it’s more a matter of determination, memorization and skill more so that cheapness. As hard as the game gets, you do get that feeling that if you died it wasn’t by a trick set in but rather your own fault. Sometimes it could be the panic of the moment, other times its a miscalculation. The game never seems to pull anything devious off if you focus on what you’re doing. The final boss fight was generally challenging and it did sort of fit to the game’s theme. Not like the other boss in the last game which seemed a bit unfitting to the idea. I was thinking it was gonna be some giant robot handled by the sisters, but the fight with that boss was fun so I can’t complain too much. The payoff from completing the game is basically the awesome credits song and being able to play as Patty in a more casual outfit a la Metroid, only a tad more dignified/reasonable. If you really want to challenge yourself, you can try getting all of the babies in each incident and kicking them to safety. Yes, you literally kick babies to safety. Oh, how quirky your video game logic can be Mighty Switch Force.

This is one of those rare times I’m okay with a game where you can kick babies

Mighty Switch Force 2 is a great sequel to a wonderful game. It built up from the last game and did enough to add to the original. The music and art style helped to make it stand out as more of its own thematic feel, which made the game feel more interesting. I would have liked a little more implementation of the firefighter mechanic to truly take it to a new level and experiment some more, but I can understand why it choose a more basic approach. Besides, I like the original’s gameplay and how it stuck to a basic mechanic. I don’t know how it would work if they try to make a third game revolving around the hospital to complete the public service trifecta, but if they do, I eagerly anticipate the antics that follow with Patty Wagon. I highly recommend the game to anyone that likes easy-to-get gameplay and addicting puzzles.