Azure Striker Gunvolt: Adept at Awesome

Jeremy gives some impressions on the recently released AZURE STRIKER GUNVOLT.

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The name Inti Creates, for me, is synonymous with “quality.” They crafted the wonderfully snappy Mega Man Zero games, Mega Man 9 and 10, and they are currently working with Keiji Inafune on the upcoming Mighty No. 9, among other things. To say that they have a pedigree when it comes to side scrolling action games would be an understatement. Because of their background, I was very stoked to finally get my hands on AZURE STRIKER GUNVOLT for the 3DS, which released on the eShop on August 29th. How does it hold up?

Marvelously, if I say so myself.

I’m only about 5 missions into the game, and I’m hopelessly hooked. The game bears more than a passing resemblance to Mega Man Zero, both in look and feel. The game puts you in control of the titular GUNVOLT, who is an “adept,” which is a fancy anime way of saying mutant. The story is fairly nonsensical: you are working for an anti establishment organization named QUILL, who is fighting an energy conglomerate who uses people/programs called Muses to control the populace, while they also harvest the power of adepts. Within seconds, I was just reading the text and not really processing it. Granted, no one really plays these kinds of games for their gripping narratives, so let’s talk about the game play.

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GUNVOLT controls almost identically to Zero in the Mega Man Zero games. He dashes with L, shoots a gun with Y, jumps with B, etc. Where this game differs and truly shines is the “tagging” mechanic. Because GUNVOLT is an electricity adept (ugh), he has the ability to electrocute multiple enemies using the R button: but it’s only really effective if you tag the enemies with your gun first. You can string together combos by tagging multiple enemies and activating your lightning attack, which gives you bonus points for chaining attacks together. GUNVOLT can also slow his descent when falling by activating the lightning ability, allowing you to glide about. It’s a wonderfully complex system that encourages experimentation, and also rewards bold game play.

Each stage gives you a ranking based on how quickly you completed it, as well as the number of combos you were successful in creating, and the damage you took. Once a stage is cleared, the game gives you a list of specific challenges that you can clear when replaying them, giving the game very long legs. I’ve only tackled the challenges for the introductory stage (so far I have unlocked 5) and had an absolute blast replaying the stage multiple times to clear the challenges. Doing so nets you parts that can be used to synthesize new equipment, which can boost your defenses, recharge time, and alter your mobility. You have the option to outfit GUNVOLT with new equipment or different abilities before each mission, which encourages you to try different set ups to find one that works for you.

Have I mentioned the difficulty yet? While not absolutely brutal, the game is considerably more difficult than your average action game, putting it close to being on par with some of the more demanding games from the past. Recklessly charging into situations will only get you so far, and I’ve found the best method of play is to take it slow when running into enemies. Oftentimes, even the most rudimentary enemy will have tricky attack patterns for you to be aware of. The boss battles are a sight to behold and an excellent test of skill.

This isn’t even mentioning the free add on content, MIGHTY GUNVOLT, a cross between AZURE STRIKER GUNVOLT and Mighty No. 9. I’ve been so engrossed with the game proper that I haven’t even bothered to check this mode out yet! That should be saying something regarding the quality of the title. Only about 1/2 way through it, and I’m comfortable giving my full recommendation for AZURE STRIKER GUNVOLT. It’s well worth the price of admission.

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