The game I am looking at for today’s review, is one I always forget was made by the wonderful man behind the Gunman Clive-titles. This is due to how Mechstermination Force contains completely different art style, tone, and even structure in comparison to Hörberg’s previous projects. Despite this, they all share the same genre: 2D shooter. I always feel bad for not remembering who made what game, as it feels disheartening to not show some appreciation for developers’ passionate projects. Especially, when it is as great as this one.
There are big robots destroying Earth’s peace. Do you need more reasons to go out guns blazing on them? Well, Mechstermination Force does not think so, and while there are some charming NPCs included to provide some nice atmosphere, the story is as deep as an 80s cartoon made for selling toys. This shooter will put you up against 14 ginormous metallic creatures, all being dangerous threats to be reckoned with. There are no traditional linear stages here, just boss fights after boss fights. This is a wonderful concept Mechstermination Force presents, as it makes sure that every encounter is memorable, diverse, and entertaining, creating one fantastic climax after another.
You, as the little soldier of your choosing, start with the ability to shoot in all eight directions, crouch, and jump. I wish it was easier to aim in a desired direction simultaneously as you move though, since you can either crouch and be still in order to aim in any direction or run while shooting where you aim with the same analog stick used for movement. A twin stick setup would have been nice or even one using the shoulder buttons to shoot up and down diagonally, but I suppose this title wanted to replicate the excitement of an old school shooter to a teeth in its gameplay.
I say this, as Mechstermination Force is all about scaling and fighting huge bosses, and every fight is amazing! Every single one has multiple phases to take on, varied patterns to learn, dangerous attacks to avoid, and none are cheap with their designs. This is really a game that will test your keen eye, reaction time, and skills to the max, and I loved every encounter for how diverse and imaginative they were. A giant alligator chasing you on a crumbling bridge, a hydra where you will have to go inside each of their mouths in order to damage it, and fighting a metallic gorilla while scaling tall towers, are just a few examples of how far this game goes with its creativity.
Each boss will have a clear weak spot you must reach, which either comes in red or yellow bulbs. The yellow ones simply need to be shot at, but the red ones are the only objects that need melee attacks in order to be destroyed. It is a neat idea for making you scale the monsters and get up close for some tens moments, but the melee attack is not needed for anything else. With a good reach and a long windup time, it would have been nice if it had more uses to make it more interesting. Although, your arsenal does not stop there!
As you fight the bosses, coins will be scattered across the field and you will be rewarded on your victory with more cash depending on how well you did it. With this, you can visit a shop to buy temporary or permanent upgrades to your health, and new weapons! Yes, while your rapid fire gun will still be an important asset, Mechstermination Force gives you plenty of varied firearms to use for different situations. A bomb launcher, spread gun, pistol firing ricocheting lasers, and more adds to make you into quite the diverse fighter! With unlimited ammo at disposal and the ability to quickly swap between all acquired firearms, you will become a mechsterminative force to be reckoned with.
However, your platforming abilities will also get important upgrades, such as being able to climb on specific metallic structures and a double jump for convenience. All upgrades are used incredibly well for the upcoming bosses, testing your understanding of their importance all the way to the end. In fact, Mechstermination Force provides a strong challenge in every encounter and if you die at any of them, you will have to restart the fight from the beginning. Luckily, since each boss takes only a couple of minutes at most to take down, retrying is a fair punishment. The coins they leave behind can also help you to gain more upgrades, making none of the deaths feel wasted.
I am probably showering this title with praises, but Mechstermination Force understands what made the original side-scrolling shooters so exciting, and decides to focus on the boss fights for maximum entertainment. Thanks to the monster’s excellent variety, your interesting arsenal, and the perfect difficulty curve, I have only minor issues in this title that I wish were ironed out. The one and a half hour of playthrough was filled with amazing action constantly and ended on a perfect note.
Gameplay Score: 9/10
Glorious action figures!
Hörberg has ditched the iconic sketch look of Gunman Clive, and instead adds colours and shiny textures to this world. It all gives the feeling of toys coming to life, fitting the style and tone of this action game. Everything has bright uses of colours, like the light green humanoid monster or your military base with red roofs. It is all lovely, and the bosses always represent something from our world, be it different animals, critters, or even humans. Everyone has something unique about them and it makes every fight exciting to witness, with the clever visual highlights of danger and exposed weaknesses being a lovely touch.
Throughout my time playing this game, I mainly stuck to Clive since the selection of characters are just for cosmetic approaches and I am biased. However, it then made me realise that even if this is all a nice parody of traditional toys from the 80s, the characters are just that: parodies. You have someone reminding me of Rambo, a female commander with an eyepatch, a skinny Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the last one being a though girl in neon pink. If someone told me they were characters from G.I. Joe, I would completely believe them. At least they have unique animations for their melee attacks, like a baseball bat or a duck for Clive.
Mechstermination Force is still a lovely game to look at with clever details and effects in the backgrounds, such as the different shops and buildings being destroyed. Furthermore, the lighting makes everything shine beautifully and the action become even more spectacular. Be it the explosions or bullets flying everywhere, everything is exciting to see in all their glory. It is all accompanied by strong sound effects that really heightens the danger of it all, making every motion sounding impactful and diverse.
This is further enhanced by the bombastic and orchestrated soundtrack that highlights every fight with fantastic uses of instruments to build up the action, to the point where it even makes jazz feel intense. Every song is varied with plenty of diverse use of notes and rhythms, making them fit every encounter and become memorable on their own. Even the shop theme is catchy and a nice breather with its sweet banjo tone. Overall, this is an exhilarating game to just see in motion with superb audio accompanying it.
Presentation Score: 8/10
You gotta do better to earn your ranks!
There is not too much to do after you are done with the game, but you can earn better ranks in missions by taking out the bosses as quickly as possible. This is far from an easy task, especially if you also try to to acquire the emblems for taking no damage. These are nice elements to perfect your skills and are fun challenges, but there is little reward to speak of when accomplishing these tasks. Although, the opportunity for co-op is terrific and a great addition to this hectic shooter, making it always fun to revisit with a friend. There is even a cute romance setup, and while it does not add much to the overall game, it is a sweet extra should you find the characters charming.
Extra Score: 7/10
Mechstermination Force is a fantastic run and gunner that fans should not pass up on. It has incredible boss fights one after the another, plenty of exciting tools to play with, and co-op at disposal. Everything in this game is made to make you feel satisfied from its diverse challenges, with plenty of visual action and creativity. Combine this with a beautiful soundtrack, it is hard to fault this title on much. There might not be a lot in replay value, but like a fun 80s movie; it is so entertaining and tense all the way to the end, it will be thrilling just to go back to it again when the time is right.