Azure Striker Gunvolt isn’t the run and gun shooter I expected. As I discovered how much more meticulous it was, it dawned on me how appropriate a response Gunvolt is to the race of filling Mega Man‘s shoes. Inti Creates’ own Mighty No.9 is fulfilling that need, so why put out more of the same?
The difference is clear upon the discovery of just how weak your pistol is. Instead of a weapon, the true purpose of Gunvolt’s handgun is as a marker. By shooting an enemy, a reticule is placed upon them and they’ve now been set as a target. Our pony-tailed protagonist’s true strength takes advantage of the situation, as Gunvolt is able to attack these targets using his Flashfield. As a circle of electricity surrounds him, bolts shoot out independently to destroy the enemies. While I’ve only played for an hour or so, in these early moments I’ve already seen some creative enemy designs that required me to make careful use of this power.
As powerful as Gunvolt seems, he’s hardly invincible. The use of Flashfield keeps him safe, but it can not be abused. When in use, this power drains our hero’s energy, and should it reach zero, Gunvolt is incredibly vulnerable. Charging your EP meter between and even during skirmishes is necessary, lest you fancy being defenseless. However, even without his Flashfield power Gunvolt is on guard with the use of Prevasion, a skill that negates any damage he receives so long as his EP meter remains charged.
If Gunvolt sounds a bit too all powerful for your liking, the game allows you to knock him down a couple pegs. As a skill, Prevasion can be turned off, which in turn means all skills can be muted as well. Special attacks like Astraphere, which unleashes three balls of energy that revolve around Gunvolt, can act as scapegoats but can be turned off if you prefer the bump in difficulty. In between missions, players can enjoy a brief stay at Gunvolt’s hideout (a quiet bedroom apartment to be exact), where they can accept challenges for the missions ahead. These encourage players to be at the top of their game, enforcing strict rules to earn the prizes they keep. Players can accept up to three challenges per mission, which range from completing a stage in less than eight minutes, to destroying three foes with one Flashfield attack. These extra steps cater to the crowd raised on Inti Creates past work like the Mega Man Z games, but since they’re optional, less skilled players (like myself!) can enjoy the game just as much.
While still early in my adventure, I’m impressed by how well Gunvolt can be pressed and squeezed into a form that pleases us best. Considering I’m able to craft my own gear from the materials Gunvolt acquires, as well as play through the bosses in the order of my choosing, it really feels like I’m on a quest that’s unique to me. I look forward to telling you all about it in my review next week!
As for Mighty Gunvolt, the free incentive for early adopters of the main game, it is indeed the Mega Man game it inspires to be. A classic action platformer in look and feel, Mighty Gunvolt is a more relaxed Inti Creates. Fruit is scattered throughout the stages, enemies hide in trash cans, and a playable angel in training coerces foes to fight alongside her through the power of love.
Mighty Gunvolt is cute in every way; as a charming nod to the games that inspired it, as a demake to its big brother, and as a reminder of Gal*Gun‘s awkward existence.
Each character controls differently, and has portions of the stages accessible only to them. Gunvolt’s double jump feels great, and Ekoro’s (the aforementioned angel from Gal*Gun) arrows and hover jump have become a favourite of mine. Beck, from Mighty No.9, is a perfect recreation of Mega Man (as expected), down to the look of his jumps.
It’s fun so far, and I enjoy the differences between the characters enough to bounce between the three from different save files.
I’ll be sure to comment more next week in my Gunvolt review!