Great game series don’t die, they evolve.
“Azure Striker Gunvolt” is a new game for the 3DS from Inti Creates, creators of Mega Man 9 and 10, released on the Nintendo eShop for digital download. It captures the essence of what makes a 2-D platform engaging and meaningful for modern gamers.
The game follows the psychic Gunvolt, armed with a requisite pistol and the ability to channel lightning. “Azure Striker Gunvolt” has the tactical pacing of the original “Mega Man” and the fast-paced action of the “Mega Man X” series.
Instead of relying solely on your pistol like the Blue Bomber, you use the gun to “tag” your enemies when fired. You can chain multiple shots onto enemies, and Gunvolt can unleash an electrical torrent on robot zombies and psychics alike.
Like the best game mechanics, it starts out simple to understand and becomes much more complex as the game progresses. The impulse to speedily progress gets blocked by the unique gameplay — Gunvolt is forced to stop, tag an enemy and wait for his psychic powers to kill anything in his path.
Getting into the initial rhythm of the game can be jarring, but once the motions become more natural, the pausing does little to disrupt the speed and fluidity of the experience. It’s remarkably satisfying to tag a room of robots and watch the entire screen explode in electricity, incinerating every enemy.
Gunvolt’s electrical powers also serve as a tool to traverse the levels in the game. You can channel your powers naturally to power generators, grab and pull platforms to travel over pits of spikes or activate anti-gravity fields to soar over bottomless pits.
The levels also do a great job of setting up the boss encounter at the end of the game. Each zone adequately reflects the theme of the boss well and includes mechanics along the way to train players for the final encounter.
Bosses are initially fun and exciting — thankfully, they don’t have set patterns — and every bout with them is unique and challenging. The only downside is the poorly balanced skill set that the player unlocks while leveling up, which has the potential to make battles completely one-sided.
here are a variety of skills from which the player has the option to choose, but only a handful are worth equipping, and they can get so powerful that gameplay becomes unenjoyably easy.
Unfortunately, the story of “Azure Striker Gunvolt” isn’t anything special. The characters are bland, uninspired and follow the usual character tropes found in a typical Japanese role-playing adventure game.
However, this game was translated well and doesn’t read awkwardly, so players interested in learning more about the game’s world can do so. The character’s colorful sci-fi aesthetic and artwork during dialogue are extremely beautiful and make for great transitions between action.
“Azure Striker Gunvolt” also features gear to outfit Gunvolt between missions that augment his abilities. While customization is always welcome, the gear is segmented off by having the materials locked behind a random generator, and players can’t actively progress without sinking tons of time into the game. The gear doesn’t even make that much of a difference and feels like a segment added in last minute to help push the game to RPG fans.
Aside from a few minor mechanical stumbles and an uninspired story, “Azure Striker Gunvolt” is a fantastic return to form. The gameplay is electric, fast-paced and enjoyable. Keiji Inafune, the original developer for Mega Man, does a masterful job modernizing the 2-D action side-scroller. Inti Creates has still managed to craft a game that feels similar to its predecessors while still creating an experience unique to itself.