Not every great game has to be a AAA ultra-masterpiece. Hell, not every great game even has to be all that innovative. Taking an idea that works and slapping another good idea on top of it can result in some pretty good stuff; it might not even be that expensive. Take Mr. Shifty, for example, which takes the ideas put forth by Hotline Miami and jumbles them up a bit with the addition of superpowers. It’s also available on the game-starved Nintendo Switch, so it might be worth your attention.
An evil corporation’s gotten hold of the Mega Plutonium, a powerful energy source that they’re planning on using to get up to no good. It’s locked down under heavy security; no normal operative could get in and out without being riddled with holes…or worse. It’s a good thing, then, that we’re not sending in a normal operative – we’re sending in the teleporting super-thief Mr. Shifty.
If you’ve played Hotline Miami you’ve got the basic idea: you’ve got a top-down view, your fists, the odd weapon here and there and a legion of baddies between you and your goal. Unlike that gorefest, though, Mr. Shifty’s got a few tricks up his sleeve. Specifically, he’s got a rapid-fire teleportation ability that makes it easy to zip all over the place, stopping only to hit a bad guy or grab something painful with which to do the hitting. You can go through walls, you can go behind foes (causing the expected reaction as they try to figure out where you went) and you can do it all in style.
It’s not exactly unlimited power, of course; Shifty can only teleport five times at a stretch without having to take a second to recharge. What’s more, our hero is fairly fragile and can be dispatched in a single hit. Still, with a little planning and skill, Mr. Shifty is a force to be reckoned with, and even though the game steadily ramps up the challenge by adding traps and more powerful enemies, chance are you’ll still feel like a complete badass. A solid strike with a weapon, for instance, is likely to send enemies flying through walls or into other enemies; if you don’t want to be quite so direct, then just punch a door hard enough to send it flying into anyone behind it.
Maneuvering Shifty and getting things done is a snap on both PC and Switch, though the Switch’s framerate can’t quite measure up. On the other hand, the Switch version is portable, so it’s easy to overlook that issue if being able to play on the go is important to you. On the whole, Mr. Shift is a colorful, comic-inspired game that plays well enough no matter what platform you decide to play on.
Without Shifty’s, well, shifting, Mr. Shifty might have been just another plain ol’ Hotline Miami clone. With the powers incorporated into the gameplay, however, Mr. Shifty is elevated to must-play status, especially if you’re anxious for action on your poor, parched Switch. Getting in, getting the job done and getting out alive still won’t be a cakewalk, but there are few stealth-inspired games where it feels quite this good.