Mechstermination Force (Switch eShop) Review
The future is destined to be filled with destructive world dominating robots, and in Mechstermination Force it’s time to fight back. Hörberg Productions, maker of Gunman Clive is back and filling Switch screens with giant destroyer Mechs. Time to climb all over some giant robots and see what makes them tick.
Mechstermination Force is a platforming boss rush game in the same vein as Contra, with a mix of Shadow of the Colossus (as proclaimed by the creator). Instead of running and gunning through waves of enemies, you’re only dealing with the bosses called MegaMechs. Most of these are screen-filling Mechs that mean business. The only goal is to destroy them and wrestle control of the world away from these mysterious mechs.
Mechstermination Force is all boss battles. When you’re not in your home base, you are fighting bosses in contained areas. The home base mostly serves as a store for upgrades and some dialogue, building up a little bit of extra lore around the MegaMechs. The bosses themselves can be over in 4-5 minutes, although chances are high you’ll have spent much more time tackling each Mech. As a game focused around boss battles, every stage is a constant challenge from the start.
Throughout Mechstermination Force, the difficulty is high for different reasons. At the start it’s because you have less health and weaponry. As the game progresses, it becomes utilising the upgrades you earn or purchase as the Mechs take more steps to destroy. Something all these giant Mechs have in common besides a disregard for your well-being are weak points, represented as glowing red cores. While everything else is damaged by gunfire, red cores can only be damaged by hitting them with a baseball bat you happen to carry with you. Most bosses have several vulnerable points. It’s important to destroy the armour and turrets on the Mechs to get to these cores. While the same method is necessary to take down these giants, every Mech is quite different. In fact, it’s great that they’ve managed to make each fight feel different and unique enough that no boss feels tired.
Now given that Mechstermination Force is inspired by games like Contra, how does the Run and Gun platforming hold up? In a nutshell, pretty well. Even better is that the game runs at a smooth 60fps, and a lot is happening throughout each battle. It captures the different types of weapon fire, and there is plenty of freedom with aiming. Playing this makes me feel nostalgic for Contra, so it must be doing something right.
Throughout the game you’ll be collecting coins as you destroy Mech parts, spending them on weapons and health upgrades. While you could torture yourself and persevere with the starter health and standard bullets, but to give yourself a fighting chance you’ll need to upgrade. I was able to get through three quarters of the game with a few weapon upgrades and some health. If you really want to stock up, especially against the later Mechs, you’ll need to go back and replay some older battles. Some of the higher level weapons are pretty pricey, so it can be a fair bit of grinding. Going back to the previous Mechs isn’t a bad thing, you know the patterns and you can use all the weapons you have to make it easier. They’re still not a cakewalk to go back to if you really want to get the maximum score and cash out of the encounters.
In the course of the game you’ll also be given upgrades that make the fights more fun, including Magnet Gloves and Boost Boots. Magnet gloves make climbing around the Mechs a lot more fun, and adds verticality into some of the bigger Mechs. The Boost Boots give you a double jump, which makes traversal much better. Although I wish these were introduced much earlier in the game, or that you could use these upgrades in earlier battles when they weren’t available yet.
When it’s so important to hold onto as much health as possible, the game doesn’t make it easy. If it’s getting hit by an attack that’s of course to be expected, but it’s when it’s not always clear it’s less fun. When you hit a core you can be flung across the screen, but in the all the action you might not actually see where you’re flung to until you’re getting hit by something. You’ll learn the patterns, that’s what a lot of the game is about, but these moments throw the whole thing into chaos and it can feel unfair when you lose health getting caught up in it.
If you’re feeling a bit lonely in the fight to save the world, there is also co op mode to drop in another soldier. It still runs great and is just as fun with a friend joining in. If there’s any Mechs giving you a particularly tough time, having an extra player can help share the load and bring down those bosses faster.
While the game runs smoothly, the visuals look fine and is fun to play, there’s a few aspects to Mechstermination Force that take the shine off. The lack of customisable buttons was one of the first things I noticed about the game, as soon as the tutorial told me what buttons did what. It’s going to be different for everyone, but it didn’t feel the most intuitive and even a simple change like moving the aim of fire to the right stick would’ve made a world of difference. Another dent in the Mechstermination Force armour was that coins and health flying off the Mechs when you damage them would often fly out of reach, or they’d vanish before you can reach them. When some of the weapons cost so much, it’s frustrating to see so much money missed and it’s completely out of your control. Being a game focused around big tough boss battles, I never expected the game to go easy on me. But then the deeper I got, the more it would’ve been great to be able to play with a mode that was slightly less punishing. Not that I would suggest it’s too tough to play, it’s genuinely fun to play and the more people that can play the better.
- Great Mech fights
- Runs smoothly
- Is plenty of fun
- Unmappable controls
- Uncontrollable damage
- Hard to collect cash