This new game by the Gunman Clive creator streamlines Contra in a satisfying way.
Genre: Platformer, Shoot-Em-Up
Developer: Horberg Productions
Publisher: Horberg Productions
Release date: April 4th, 2019
Someone Call a Mechsterminator?
When it comes to Nintendo exclusives most people naturally think of their first party offerings like Mario or Zelda, but the 3DS also had some smaller titles only available on it for some time, which now holds true for the Switch. One of those was Gunman Clive, a game inspired by Megaman but with some ideas of its own, which was compact but fun to play. The developers behind that have now produced Mechstermination Force, a game that aims to do the same to another classic run and gun franchise, Contra.
Now I said up top that Mechstermination Force streamlines Contra, and what I meant is that this is a game with only boss battles, not unlike Cuphead or more relevantly, Shadow of the Colossus. Not that the levels in Contra aren’t memorable but I think a lot of people remember the massive boss battles of the series just as much, if not more. This game has those in spades, although you’re not fighting aliens but rather giant robots that have decided to annihilate Earth. You, one of a few preset soldiers, are the only one who can save mankind. Standard stuff really – the game’s pretty cartoonish and light on plot.
The gameplay makes up for it, fortunately, as the robotic monsters you fight definitely feel imposing and a threat, which of course makes you feel accomplished for blowing them to pieces. To do that you’ll need to dodge bullets, lasers, thrown cars, and even just avoiding being crushed, all while destroying several glowing weak-points. Most are yellow and can be blown up by simple firepower, of which you have several options: the typical machine-gun to start with, but also a flamethrower, laser, and even the classic spread shot. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses befitting the different machines you fight. An early boss had a second phase that auto-scrolled, making the long-range machine-gun better than the shorter flamethrower, while another had weak points placed where the flamethrower could aim at better.
Of course, bosses also have red weak points, and that’s where the Shadow of the Colossus comparisons arise, because to destroy those you’ll need to smack them with a big…guitar (don’t ask me) your character wields. Just like with the Colossi, getting to these points is the tricky part, as you’ll need to shoot past barriers, platform across them as the robots attack you, and climb across them with a pair of magnetic gloves you receive early on. Destroying them often changes the fight in some unexpected ways, keeping you on your toes.
So obviously the game is quite fun, but it has some imperfections. Your character can feel a bit slippery and clumsy to control at times, and so platforming or dodging bullets is imprecise. While your character has a fairly big life bar sometimes it seems like you just sort of take damage. The climbing mechanic also feels a bit inconsistent, as I slipped off some things I could swear I had jumped dead onto, and against some bosses that can mean another dangerous climb back up. You have a pretty sizable health bar and can pay to upgrade it at the shop, but you may likely still run into some frustrating moments.
Length-wise, the game isn’t too long, but not that short either. The game has fourteen robots to dismantle, and I’ve taken out eight of them in just a few hours time, though obviously there’s some variance depending on how good you are at this kind of gameplay. But that’s consistent with the Gunman Clive games, and for this kind of title I’d prefer fourteen unique fights instead of repeating things just to have more.
Overall, unless you just don’t like these sort of games I don’t think there’s much reason not to get Mechstermination Force on Switch, or to keep an eye open for it on PC whenever it pops up. It can be a bit rough around the edges, but it’s still good fun. I give it a Save.