This week’s eShop darling is Mr. Shifty, a game by Team Shifty and tinyBuild that resembles Hotline Miami in look, but goes far beyond that. So far, I’ve spent about six hours with Mr. Shifty, though you’ll probably spend less. A combination of how bad I am at this game, plus me streaming earlier this week bumped up my playtime.
In my time with Mr. Shifty, I’ve found that, save for abysmal frame rate near the end, it satisfies my three F’s of gaming: fast, funny, and fun.
Mr. Shifty is fast. Like, really, really fast. Being able to teleport around stages affords Mr. Shifty the opportunity to be as fast as possible without feeling like a twitch shooter. Team Shifty even handicaps the ability with five uses before a short cooldown.
Unfortunately, all the zipping about in levels comes to a grinding halt as you edge closer and closer toward Mr. Shifty’s conclusion. I noticed these frame rate problems during the game’s early levels, although the various drops weren’t a big issue. It wasn’t until after the halfway point when the frame rate took a nosedive in the more action-packed scenes, causing the action to completely stop for a second before resuming. This resulted in numerous momentum-breaking moments, which lead to the occasional death or two.
Mr. Shifty is unabashedly funny. This game will poke fun at the conventions of stealing from the bad guy and make sure you like it…. Or you’ll at least die in the process of not liking it. Either way, this game is the funniest game I’ve played on the Switch.
Shifty himself is about as silent a protagonist as you can get, with his “responses” represented as ellipses whenever he’s asked a question. Mr. Shifty’s two other characters, your companion Nyx and antagonist Chairman Stone, however, are anything but silent. At the start of each stage and at certain points in the mission, Nyx will update you on your progress, taking the opportunity to throw in a joke or two when she sees fit. Nyx’s various quips and very self-aware puns helped take the edge off when I kept dying, or when the game would crash.
Stone isn’t as intentionally funny, but his reactions to a thief slowly making his way up his tower never get old.
Shifty’s superhuman strength leads to some of the most fun moments on the Switch I’ve had. Weaving in and out of enemy fire, meeting them nose-to-nose and watching as a quick, two-punch combo sends them smashing through a glass window or into a wall will never get old. Even after 10 hours and countless deaths, the gameplay never really felt stale for me. Mr. Shifty continuously manages to keep you on your toes as it introduces new mechanic after new mechanic, slowly building on the foundation laid in the early levels. Though that may sound annoying, the execution keeps things interesting as you’re forced to think on your toes.
In certain situations, you might have a small mine field in front of you with enemies spread out. At that point, you have to decide how to tackle that situation. Do you trigger the mines and zip away as fast as possible? Or are you the type who’ll take their chance by grabbing a mine and chucking it into a few enemies to watch the ensuing chaos? Moments like these kept me smiling throughout my ten hours with the game.
Because of the bite-sized level design, the game allows you to re-do every stage to get a faster time or complete it with fewer deaths. As I’m still trying to beat the final stage, I can’t say whether or not I’ll bother trying to beat my own scores, but with how much fun I’m having, I don’t think Mr. Shifty will be leaving my Switch anytime soon.