Finally, Hotline Miami 1 & 2 has landed on Nintendo Switch, under the guise of Hotline Miami Collection. After receiving worldwide acclaim on Steam, and subsequently on PS4 and Xbox One, many wondered when it would appear on the Nintendo Switch.
For those that aren’t in the loop, both games are top down shooters which are ultraviolent. Both have been made in the ever popular GameMaker engine, but have a surprising amount of depth to them. For Hotline Miami, there are two playable characters available, whereas in 2, there are thirteen.
The premise of both games is quite simple; any enemies on the map need to be killed. In the first game, a string of phone calls leads to missions being undertaken by the player, known as Jacket by the gaming community. In the sequel, the story moves between the past and present day with the various characters giving an insight into their back story. It’s an interesting addition to the game, and there won’t be any spoilers dished out here.
At the start of the game, it does seem very simplistic, but pretty soon you’ll realise that there does need to be an element of strategy adopted.
Enemies will hear gun shots fired from other rooms, and in response to that they will come running. The type of gun used will alter how many goons will hear you. Whilst it may always seem like the best option is to go in all guns blazing, this isn’t always the case. Both games in the collection aren’t the kind that you’ll complete each chapter on the first attempt, far from it. Since the chapter will restart so quickly from the checkpoint, the numerous deaths you’ll no doubt face is never an issue. It does also give you the chance though to scope out the enemy placement and test what approaches work, and what ones don’t. Sometimes you’ll be fortunate enough to pick up a silenced weapon
Throughout both games, a variety of masks can be obtained. These have various functions, from there being more guns available on the map, to having a stronger melee attack. There is also a scoring system in place. Each chapter is given a score based on how well you have completed it. Scores are dished out based on the time it takes to completed said chapter, as well as any combos that have been wracked up on the killing spree. The better the score, the better the grade that is awarded. Additionally, getting a higher score on each level puts you closer to unlocking new weapons.
A nice addition to the Switch version over the console and PC versions is the integration of gyro controls. When an enemy has been tackled, be it with a baseball, crowbar or even your fists, it doesn’t always result in their quick demise. Instead, they can crawl around and get back up. However, by quickly hitting B whilst over them and then shaking the controller up and down rapidly, it will end up offing them.
When the game starts up, it even suggests if you’re using the Joy Con to make sure the strap is securely attached to you. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this in a game (way back in the Wii days to be precise). The controls have taken a bit of getting used to when compared to the PC version where it was a WASD and mouse setup. Having said that, it does become second nature very quickly, and the lock on feature is also a nice bonus.
One thing that is sadly missing from the Switch version of Hotline Miami 2 is the map maker. This wasn’t available on the other console ports either, but it would have been nice to have it on Switch. Especially when Super Mario Maker 2 shows that the system is more than capable of handling this thanks to its touchscreen. In all honesty though, it isn’t a deal breaker and it doesn’t take away from the overall experience of the game.
In terms of length, 1 has 19 levels and 2 had 25. HM2 does also feel a bit more of a challenge, thanks to some enemy placement that really does cause instant death on some of the levels.
Visually, it does have quite a striking look. For a top down game, it is extremely detailed. The locations are varied just enough, too. At no point was any slowdown noticed in either game and in both portable and docked mode. The game looks just as great as it does on my current gaming rig that’s rocking a GTX970. Whilst it isn’t exactly a tough game to port over, the recent ports of Doom 1 and 2, have shown that it isn’t always the case that lesser demanding games will port over perfectly. Everyone involved in bringing the collection should be commended for doing a cracking job on this one. As you would expect, 2 does have a bit more of visual polish to it compared to the original. This is par for the course anyway when it comes to sequels, but the slight improvement in art style does help to distinguish between the two.
The music is also a joy, and it does have a retro feel to it, especially in summary screen after you complete a level. There’s a wide variety of sound tracks used in the game, and they do add to the atmosphere when playing it. Whilst playing through both games, I genuinely felt amped up thanks to the sound track.
The sound effects are spot on as well. Again, these are two games built on the Game Maker engine which has gotten a lot of stick in the past. It’s clear that the engine can pump out excellent games, with these two standing front and centre to prove this point. More specifically, the game was adapted for consoles using GameBaker from Abstraction Games and uses their proprietary technology.
Hotline Miami Collection is available now on the Nintedo eShop.
Both Hotline Miami 1 and 2 are visually striking games. The challenge laid down in both of them is pretty intense, and it can result in some rage quit scenarios. However, the gameplay as a whole is pretty outstanding and it’s a joy to play through it, even in short bursts. It can take a while to master the mechanics of the game, but once this has been done, it really is a joy to chain events together into excellent combos. This is a collection that you won’t want to miss on Nintendo Switch.