We live in an interesting time where the kids that were gamers in the ’80s and ’90s are now game developers that long for times that have long passed. In a world full of Uncharted, Resident Evil and Smash Brothers games, we have long overlooked the games that inspired these types of games. Many of these developers have made a game inspired by the Castlevania or Mega Man games, but I can’t think of any developers that have raised the flag for Contra. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Mechstermination Force comes from Horberg Productions. After all, they have been championing that era with Gunman Clive as well as its sequel. I can’t think of any better studio to develop games in that vein.
In short Mechstermination Force is a boss rush game in which you play as a marine that fights these massive robots by himself. For those unfamiliar to boss rush titles, these games have no long levels to play through. It literally starts you at the fight and you have to figure out the fight using trial and error. In many ways, fans of Cuphead will be comfortable with the game. As you defeat the bosses, you will gain money which can be used to purchase health upgrades as well as different weapons. If anything, I would even say that Mechstermination Force is a little bit more forgiving than Cuphead.
Early on in the game, I found that the fights were pretty straightforward. Shooting certain parts of a robot will destroy its armor and ultimately exposing a weak spot. The game makes it fairly obvious what you need to be attacking as it is a big red orb. All the bosses have more than one phase to the fight so until you see the mark of completion, be ready for the next attack. As you progress in the game though, the robots get to be bigger and MUCH more elaborate. The game quickly finds a way to make an interesting mash-up of Contra and Shadow of the Colossus. As fun as scaling these bosses can be, it also makes the game very challenging! Not only do you have to endure the attack the boss has, but as you climb up them, there will be turrets all over the place firing at you. You have to juggle attacking those, potential missiles that may be fired your way, big lasers and all sorts of deadly goodies!
Thankfully each of the 14 fights can be completed quickly enough that once you get your bearing on a certain boss and all of its attacks and phases, you can beat them in a matter of 5-10 minutes or less. This is nice as you will die a lot as you are figuring out their mechanics. You never feel like you are wasting time as well because of any kind of money you make, you get to keep. Another great addition is that you can replay any one of the fights to make a few extra bucks. The more HP you have at the end of the fight, the more money you will make. You are rewarded for a shorter time as well as completing a “No Hit” run. The more you play, the better, as you want to try and get as much money as you can to purchase extra Hearts for your HP as well as the other guns.
If you find that it is too difficult to complete the game solo, you can always try to convince a friend to join you for multiplayer! I didn’t feel like it made the game any harder and is a welcome addition to the game.
All in all, I think Mechstermination Force is a fun game that is a nice addition to the boss rush style games. I like that the game evolves in its style as you progress. I do wish that there was online multiplayer as it can be difficult to track the boss on one screen, especially when the screen is filled with missiles, laser beams, and all that fun stuff. The one big issue I see this game having is that it is released so close to Cuphead making its way to the Nintendo Switch so soon. I think that the games differ in just enough ways that they can coexist, or so I hope that we can eventually get a sequel.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*