Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda: Mr. Shifty - Geek.com

If you have a Nintendo Switch, chances are you also have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The new Zelda is a massive, phenomenal game that you can and should play for dozens of hours. But eventually, you’re going to want to play something new on your Nintendo console/handheld hybrid. Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda is a new column highlighting cool, smaller Switch games to check out once you’ve saved Hyrule.

As much as I hate merely repeating publisher talking points, I really can’t think of a better description for Mr. Shifty than a combination of Hotline Miami and the Nightcrawler opening scene from X-Men 2. It’s a fast and brutal top-down stealth action game where you play as a dude in a trenchcoat warping around leaving smoke trails. But if a game is going to be two things, those are two pretty great things to be. Oh, and it’s also a Nintendo Switch Game That Isn’t Zelda.

Mr. Shifty was developed by a small indie team, and it has the vibe of a small, 90s, indie comic book. Heavily inked shadows contrast against colorful outfits. Comic book-style portraits of allies and enemies spout cheesy dialogue at you over MIDI rock music. Mr. Shifty himself at first looks a little too similar to the bland, awful Watch Dogs protagonist Aiden Pearce(?) but his superpowers give him a nice dose of style.

The tone overall rides a thin line between awesome and juvenile. You beat up enemies without mercy, but don’t expect the coke-fueled 80s ultraviolence of Hotline Miami. The better 80s comparison is Die Hard since all of the action takes place in various winding floors and hallways of an office building.

The real star of Mr. Shifty is its teleportation combat, and the surprising amount of varied scenarios the developers wring out of it. You can rapidly dash five times in any direction you point yourself at before needing to recharge. You start off simply shifting through wall to kill foes from behind, but the game adds new wrinkles at a steady clip across the 18 levels.

Space out your shifts to crash rockets into each other. Destroy machines that negate your warping power to dash through lasers. Blow up walls with explosive barrels or proximity mines and shift away to avoid the blast in time. Distract sentries with sound, so they don’t escape the destruction.

Learning how to handle the different enemies, who can all kill you with one shot, also makes for great rapid-fire strategizing. I would shift in and land three crucial hits on musclebound melee foes while staying out of snipers’ sight. Destroying a Zeus statue gave me a handy lightning bolt to throw and safely kill enemies wielding flamethrowers from far away. And if you can survive a bout with a ninja as fast as you, you’re given a trusty, lethal wooden sword. I died often, but the game restarts quickly enough that I felt free to try new tactics. And if you pull off a successful enough killing spree, you’ll be able to brief stop time and pull off even more elaborate shifty takedowns.

Mr. Shifty is a game that relies on flow, and unfortunately on the Switch right now that flow gets interrupted by hitching and slowdown and other technical issues in later, crazier stages. It’s actually a 3D game, just viewed from a 2D perspective. I found these issues more annoying than game-breaking. I finished the campaign without much frustration. But those issues do exist. Fortunately, a patch is coming that should hopefully fix things. If you’re impatient (or don’t own a Switch) perhaps the Steam version will run better for you.

Hotline Miami I think is still ultimately superior to Mr. Shifty. It has a better style, it’s tighter, and it’s more original. However, even a lesser take on Hotline Miami is still a great game, and I appreciated Mr. Shifty’s freer, less punishing approach to combat. You can look around to see foes ahead but charging/teleporting in, and improvising is way more fun and viable. Plus, it’s a better sequel than Hotline Miami 2, and it’s a Nintendo Switch Game That Isn’t Zelda.

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Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda: Mr. Shifty – Geek.com

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