There’s something oddly satisfying about playing through a game which is just one giant boss run. Mechstermination Force is a Contra/Cuphead like shoot-em-up where every fight sees you facing up against gargantuan robots with a wide variety of styles.
The story of Mechstermination Force is fairly standard in terms of an invasion story. The antagonistic Mega Mechs (love alliterated enemy names) have come out of nowhere and have been laying waste to everything in their path for… reasons. They’re giant robots they don’t need reasons if you ask me.
I was surprised by what I found in terms of gameplay in Mechstermination Force. The obvious first point to cover is the combat. It’s all fairly basic but at the same time, it’s copious amounts of fun. The pace is hectic and as the game progresses further onward the feel shifts more towards that of bullet hell similar to Sine Mora Ex and the likes. This, however, doesn’t wholly apply to each level though.
Not only do you need to utilize a constant stream of fire to take down your foe tactically but there are also certain parts of each which require you to get up close and personal. This means that our one-man-army needs to be all up on those mechs luring them in for a tender embrace, only to, in fact, swing a mother fucking bat right into their GLOWING WEAK SPOTS. This makes for an interesting turn of events as you need to find a way to outmaneuver or tank through returning gunfire to get that satisfying kill.
Every level also offers the player with a reward upon completion. There are 2 to cover, with the first being a cash reward (we will get to the reason soon, promise) which gets more and more lucrative as you get all David on your Mecha-Goliath. The latter reward is stars, which you can obtain a total of four for each completed level.
I thought four was a head-scratching number seeing as the norm tends to be between three and five. Mechstermination Force does utilize the three-star system and I learned that the mysterious fourth star was actually rewarded for a zero damage run. How sweet! The star reward honestly doesn’t provide any sort of reward other than bragging rights over your peers. But I don’t have any peers… NUMBER 1 BABY!
Outside of the levels is the home hub. There are three things to do here of note. Numero uno is the obvious, which is to progress onto the next level after completion of the previous. The second thing you can do is replay any level you have completed. This means that you can earn more cash, stars as well as attempt to get that bastard fourth star for flourishing your way through. And finally, you can visit the shop.
Now this is where all that hard earned dolla’ comes into effect. You can buy a multitude of items from the shop, the most tempting being different weapon types, my favorite being the reflective laser which fires one continuous beam which bounces off surfaces. The different types of weapons are extremely handy for the different mech types depending on their size and where there damage spots are located.
The other notable upgrade to be found in the shop is health. You can buy one of two types; permanent and temporary. The permanent health upgrades are understandably, quite costly. Though they do become more and more needed the further into the game you get (unless you somehow manage to get that zero damage bonus all the damn time). The temporary health boosts are exactly that, temporary. They last for one fight with robo-kaiju and are purchasable over and over again. This makes them pretty useful for those fights that are just a teensy bit tricky.
Another feature of Mechstermination Force is that it accommodates for some local cooperative action. This means that if you are having some difficulty you can split your JoyCon and get a friend involved. I do normally find that when I play with only half the controller though, I am a little hindered due to the vast decrease in size. Thankfully there will be someone to back me up.
Mechstermination Force not only plays great and has plenty of features, but it also looks pretty damn good too. Thanks to it’s cartoon-like style it makes the game feel a like it comes straight from a comic. There is so much vibrance too with all the colors contrasting beautifully whether it be the scenery of the game or the mechs. Thanks to this it is easy to distinguish also the weak spots on each enemy almost being the way for the game to direct you where to aim.
The replayability of Mechstermination Force is nigh on impossible to criticize. Therefore there is only one thing about playing over and over again that I wasn’t fond of. That being the combination of the coin reward system and the cost of upgrades. I wasn’t particularly great at the game once I passed the first level so I constantly found myself going back and back to make easy money. The problem was that the earlier levels were scathingly low payouts for coinage. Ergo, it took way too long to unlock enough upgrades for me to not have my ass handed to me by the Iron Giants asshole family.
Thankfully though this meant that once I had those upgrades, I was besting my score on the earlier levels with ease. Though for those of you who want to attain 100% and grab those fourth stars, then you are going to be analyzing the living shit out of every attack from every mech. Though if that’s your thing then you do you, I will stick to just making it to the end.
As for the actual mechs, well they are amazing. Mechstermination Force doesn’t use the old JRPG trope and recolor any enemies. Instead, each one has been well designed and are distinctively unique. There are no two that feel even close to similar. What also makes them stand out is that most of them have multiple stages to conquer. So even if you manage to lay a WWE style beat down, chances are you’re going to have to dust off your gloves and get back into it.
Safe to say that Mechstermination Force is an absolute blast. With a whole variety of mechs to lay waste to and a whole armory of insane weapons to use, there is hours upon hours of fun to be had here. Thanks to the reward system of the game too it doesn’t come across as something that you need to be all hardcore to actually complete and feels almost casual, especially with how easy it is to pick up and put down the Nintendo Switch.