Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack Review: Legacy
Kalvin Martinez / Oct 24th, 2017 No Comments
Gamers have been aching for a return of classic Mega Man-style gameplay since the series has seemingly been abandoned by Capcom. It has been nearly a decade since any game in the series has been released, signaling a seeming end to that style of gameplay.
But in 2014, Azure Striker Gunvolt released on 3DS. Who better to carry the torch of the fast-paced side-scrolling gameplay than Inti Creates? The series harkened back to the frenetic energy of the Blue Bomber while not being a simple clone.
While originally living on the Nintendo 3DS, Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack brings the series to Nintendo Switch with an updated presentation, all the previously released DLC, and some new content in the Striker Pack.
In Azure Striker Gunvolt, Gunvolt’s initial mission is to execute an adept called Lumen on behalf of QUILL. She is the bedrock to the Sumeragi Group’s plan to control all adepts. When faced with the fact that Lumen is the Septima of a young girl named Joule, he can’t kill her. Instead, he spares her and takes her back to his apartment.
A little hiccup doesn’t stop the Sumeragi Group’s plans. They redouble their efforts to take back Joule. Gunvolt must wipe out the adepts in the Sumeragi Group and take down their leader if he wants to keep Joule safe.
In Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, the events of the first game still weigh on Gunvolt. He has split with QUILL and now works for himself with a few allies. After trying to clean up the loose ends of the Sumeragi Group, he finds himself locked into combat with a new threat, the Cult of Eden.
This time, Gunvolt isn’t the only one trying to stop the Cult of Eden. Former antagonist, Copen, is also on a mission to stop the cult as he still believes all adepts should be wiped from the Earth. However, his mission of eradication is tempered by the need to save his very sick sister, Mytyl. Much like Joule, she is the key to the Cult of Eden being able to pull off their plan.
Now, the two must work separately with a similar aim: stop the Cult of Eden from enacting their doomsday plan.
The common themes between both Azure Striker Gunvolt games are the need to stop a massive plot for control and to save a girl from being used as a pawn. While the themes aren’t super novel, it is the presentation of the games that keeps them fresh and exciting.
In many ways, both Azure Striker Gunvolt games feel like noir stories. They involve a lone wolf protagonist relying, somewhat reluctantly, on aid from competent allies. They must slowly uncover a massive plot of terrible nature, the missions they go on are wildly dangerous with no guarantee of success, and they have to save a girl mixed up in all of it. Plus, the tragic endings of each game only enhance the noir-ness of it all.
Both games feature slick graphic overlays of dialogue that play out as the action unfolds. It can be a bit chaotic to keep track of everything, but it makes it feel like a living, breathing anime full of explosive action and potent drama.
Lightning Striking Once, Twice, and More
In many ways, gameplay in both Gunvolt games is pretty straightforward. Run through a level shooting enemies down and best platform challenges as fast as you can to achieve a high rank. Where it innovates is with the unique abilities both Gunvolt and Copen have.
Gunvolt in both games has the ability to tag enemies by shooting them with bullets. You gain different bullets with different tag levels as you advance through the game. Tagging an enemy allows Gunvolt to use his special adept ability, “Flashfield,” which lets you emit an aura of electricity to damage any enemy tagged across the entire screen.
Utilizing the tag ability is handy when dealing with normal enemies, but also vital to surviving tough boss encounters. Maximizing your tags and avoiding damage ups your kudos multiplier, helping you gain a better ranking by the end of the level.
In Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, Copen’s playstyle is much more traditional, with the exception of his secondary ability, speed and mobility. Copen’s speed and added mobility makes him play differently from Gunvolt, with much faster and sometimes more aggressive combat.
Unlike Gunvolt, he doesn’t have “Flashfield,” but he has customizable secondary weaponry that utilizes different abilities gained from defeated bosses. While manifesting in different ways, the secondary weapons function in a similar capacity to Gunvolt’s Flashfield to give Copen extra fire power and wrack up the kudos.
The level design of the game adds a lot to how satisfying the combat is. With a diverse set of environments full of exciting and unique platforming and combat challenges, the strong mechanics of the game shine.
The structure of checkpoints and challenges leading up to the boss fight makes each level always a tense and exciting experience. Its main level selection allows you to tackle the game’s main bosses in any order you see fit, which is a nice throwback.
The boss fights between both games are where the game comes alive the most. Each adept you face has their own unique powers to overcome and players must figure out the strategy necessary to win. They are fierce battles that require a lot of skill and critical thinking to beat. It’s what makes both Azure Striker Gunvolt games worth playing.
Both games have a ton of replayability as there a good amount of challenges to complete, which force you to improve your rank and time in each level. Each level also has unique challenges, like avoiding destroying shutters or using jumping platforms more than a set number of times. It adds challenge and constraint to the game.
Add in crafting better gear, and you have plenty to keep you occupied once the main campaigns are done.
Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack is a great value. It comes with two fantastic games in their best presentation.
The fluidity of the gameplay evokes memories of side-scrolling games of old, but never feels like a simple homage. Both Gunvolt game’s modern mechanics and speed ensures they stand on their own two feet.
Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack is currently available on the Nintendo eShop and releases in stores Nov. 21.
Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher
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