Azure Striker Gunvolt
Inti Creates’ new game Azure Striker Gunvolt is in many ways a re-imagining of the classic Mega Man, specifically the X and Zero series, franchise, but with a new story, universe, and original characters. This is no coincidence for several reasons. Inti Creates was the studio responsible for the Mega Man Zero series that appeared on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS handheld systems. Also, they are currently working on Mighty No. 9, along with Keiji Inafune’s Comcept studio. Inafune, is the creator of Capcom’s Mega Man (or Rockman in Japan) franchise, as well as being the producer for many of Capcom’s top games. Mega Man was one of the most well-known series in the action side scrolling genre in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s. The action side scrolling genre is known for a combination of action, platforming, and puzzles, but one of the things people remember the most about the Mega Man franchise is that after an initial level the player was then allowed to select from several levels each having a unique boss at the end. Beating a boss would give Mega Man a new weapon to use in the proceeding levels, and each new weapon would be a weakness for another boss. Playing the levels in a certain order was the key to clearing the game. Due to Capcom’s ownership, Inafune could no longer use his previous creations from that company. He instead used this time to pitch an idea on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter to create a game that bares a resemblance to his old creation called Mighty No. 9. In the meantime it seems that Inafune has been working with Inti Creates on Azure Striker Gunvolt for the 3DS.
The character Gunvolt is a cybernetic humanoid known as an Adapt who can create an electrical field around himself, as well as control the direction in which it attacks enemies. To target an enemy with his Flashfield, Gunvolt must first “tag” an enemy by shooting them with his gun. The story starts with Gunvolt on a mission from the Quill organization to destroy Lumen the Muse whose anthem has immense power, which is being used to hunt other Adapts, and is being controlled by the Sumeragi group. Upon finding Lumen, Gunvolt discovers that it is actually a projection of a second personality from an Adept named Joule. Gunvolt turns his back on Quill by deciding to save Joule. As time has passed Gunvolt works as a freelancer taking on jobs that interest him, which happen to be for Quill, against the Sumeragi group.
Gunvolt is a fast paced side scrolling shooter with vibrant colors in an anime style. A player is free to select the level they want to play through an overworld menu. The game is based around managing Gunvolt’s electrical charge for attacking and other various uses depending on the items equipped. Even though he will recharge on his own, the player can initiate a slightly faster recharge by tapping down twice. The touch screen on the 3DS allows the player to use one of Gunvolt’s special moves, as long as there is enough SP, at any point during a stage. Being able to equip four of these special moves, before the start of any level, gives the touchscreen a function similar to programmable buttons.
Fans of the Mega Man series who want new installments in one of the Blue Bomber’s series will be very happy to see a twist on the familiar gameplay, courtesy of the Azure Striker. This game does not reinvent the genre or style, but instead brings some interesting new features with solid gameplay. My main complaint about this game is that some of the music can sound stock at times, but this is minor low point for an otherwise fantastic game. For those that do not enjoy the Mega Man games, especially X and Zero, it is unlikely that you will enjoy this game. For those that are curious about the genre, it is well worth the download and play through. Overall, this is a great start to a new franchise and has a lot of potential.