As we approach the heftier load of games being released day in and day out, we easily forget about those smaller titles that don’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg but can still provide as much excitement as a AAA title. Today I bring you a little game from the creator of Mega Man, Azure Striker Gunvolt. We shall see if the game strikes lightning in a bottle, or if it’s just another forgettable downloadable title.
The game starts off with a lightning gun toting mercenary named Gunvolt, who is on a mission to find and eliminate a powerful company in Sumegari, who is using telekinetic adepts and their powers take control of the economy. At the end of your mission you find a young girl, Joule, who is held captive for her psychic abilities. Once forgoing your mission, you rescue Joule and go into hiding, breaking ties with your group (Quill), and attempt to rid the world of Sumegari single handedly.
The storytelling is very Japan-oriented, but also has similarities to the X-Men universe. Like the mutants in the X-Men universe, the adept psychics in Azure Striker Gunvolt are shunned from modern society but still play a major role within it whether it be good or bad. Most people are afraid of them and want to get rid of them permanently.
The combat system varies compared to most games in the genre. As you will soon realize, your Conductor Gun is not your most valuable weapon, but instead your ability to use lightning becomes your most important asset. From taking down foes to defending yourself from enemy attacks your blue lightning orb can basically do it all for you, but it’s not as simple as you may think. You will have to tag foes down with your Conductor Gun before taking anybody out. It does take some time to figure out, but once you get through that learning curve, it becomes extremely satisfying to take down foes in one blue blur.
Other options of combat are the skills you acquire during the game. With a limited supply of these skills available per mission, you can take out any foes standing in your way with Astrosphere or replenish your health with Galvanic Patch (later in the game). These skills are better saved for later for when you face-off against the bosses as the enemies in the missions shouldn’t force your hand into using your stronger attacks.
There’s also an RPG element thrown into the mix of this fast-paced high octane gameplay. By levelling up you will be able to obtain higher skills and better stats to help you go through enemies faster. Some other things added into the game are the items you can collect after missions to craft better gear as well as change your loadout with different abilities acquired throughout the game. With everything offered, you will be able to choose what items or abilities best suit your play style.
The game does fair a bit too easy, as enemies will never oppose you in any way and their numbers are spread too thin making all the levels dull and lifeless until the boss fights. Which in contrast, are a blast! They should have considered having the same approach that Mega Man X had. The levels were a test of your skills and your patience, but once you faced against the bosses, your skills and patience were pushed even further. Maybe I am reminiscing too much about the past, but I felt that the levels in between the boss fights were too underwhelming.
Azure Striker Gunvolt would be right at home on a SNES cartridge. It follows suit with the graphics of Mega Man X and even has a decent soundtrack to bring along on the nostalgia ride. It does however have a slight problem when facing multiple targets. Once engaged in combat and having your Flashfield up with enemies attacking you, it becomes very hard to differentiate between what is happening on the screen. You don’t know if you’re taking any damage, or if you have your enemies tagged. It just becomes a bit confusing to follow all the clashy information once the battles actually heat up.
Like I said before, the game does follow a more Japanese theme, and what I mean to say by that is that the game could have been taken straight out of a manga. The dialog follows this theme as it carries over a style of humour that the East is known for. My only issue with this is that there is a bit too much talking involved. The game already gives you everything you need to know in the first mission, and I felt that it was unnecessary to read everybody talk over and over. Especially when re-encountering a boss fight after just failing to defeat him the first time.
Azure Striker Gunvolt is a 3DS/2DS exclusive on the Nintendo EShop that will cost you $14.99, which is great value for a game of its length. The game keeps it short and sweet, so it shouldn’t feel dragged out. With creating a customizable load out and gear it will extend the play time a bit, so your dollars are well spent.
For a limited time until November, the game includes a free download code for a game called Mighty Gunvolt. It is an 8-bit inspired mini-game that plays and looks a whole lot like the original Mega Man. A nice tidbit from the creators to give this away for fans, so make sure to keep your receipt for your free download.
While Azure Striker Gunvolt didn’t indulge my appetite for a new Mega Man X styled game, it does deserve everyone’s attention as a great downloadable title. Its inspiration brings the best out of the game, and its rewarding gameplay will give you the extra jolt to add this to your 3DS library. It’s not a rebirth of a forgotten classic, but Azure Striker Gunvolt will shock you by being such a great game at a reasonable price.