Mr. Shifty – Nightcrawling

One of my favorite games for the Sega Genesis is X-Men 2: Clone Wars. It’s a decent 16-bit platformer. One of the better licenced games, but in many ways nothing special. The reason it stands out for me is Nightcrawler. The other X-men are limited to your standard running and jumping, but Nightcrawler, see, that dude can teleport! And that changes how an otherwise basic 2-D platformer is played.

Suddenly you could teleport around walls! Behind enemies! Into places you weren’t supposed to go! Cheese the bosses by dodging their attacks in weird ways! This was fun! Also, Nightcrawler is the coolest X-Man.*

The point of this preamble being: teleportation mechanics are cool and more games should have them. Enter the Mr. Shifty from the aptly named Team Shifty which does some things right, but leaves me wanting a bit more.

Do not get shot. Shifty is allergic to bullets.

First, the right stuff.** Shifty was truly one of my favorite games of 2017. It’s a top down arena brawler where you guide the titular hero up Not-Nakatomi Plaza punching goons all the way. Readers familiar with the Hotline Miami will grok the style here right away. The rest of you, go play Hotline Miami and get back to me.

The gimmick here (as alluded to before) is teleportation! Shifty can jump into rooms or quickly close distance in order to punch goons more effectively. There are pretty much only two buttons to worry about: teleport and punch. Makes for a satisfying arcade style experience. And that’s what Mr. Shift is at its heart. An arcade game. Much of it wouldn’t be out of place in a cabinet with a joystick and a couple buttons.*** I admire the simplicity of the concept. Not every game needs rpg elements and unlockables and bells and whistles and nonsense.

Lasers are also things that will make you dead.

That being said… I kind of wish there was more to the Mr. Shifty experience. It left me unsatisfied in a couple of respects. First, I feel like there was a whole world of puzzle levels that was left on the tables. I thought there were some areas that could benefited from some more elaborate teleportation mazes or challenges. There are some laser beam mazes and minor puzzles in the mid game, but they never really get developed Second, the way the game ramps of difficulty is a little weak, in my opinion. More punchable things just keep getting added which little change in how you are expected to deal with them.**** Which such a cool clever mechanic, it’s a bit of a pity that there aren’t more cool clever solutions.

Still, I really did like my time with Shifty. It looks great and has a fun mechanic that is executed in a simple fun manner, and that’s what I like in a game.

No video this time, as I played this on the Switch. Not sure how to get the Switch onto Twitch. Maybe I can find a glitch to make it work? Or maybe the solution is magic, and I’ll need a… witch… I’ll just see myself out now.


*Wolverine sux.

**I know we made fun of them back in the day and that link is meant as a joke. But now, removed from the context of Junior High head-space… that hook is dope. I cannot lie. Wolverine still sux, though.

***Note to self: make a demake of Mr. Shifty that looks and plays like an early 80s arcade game…

****Hint: punching.