Azure Striker Gunvolt (3DS) Review
“What The Gack!?”
What the fuck!?
Azure Striker Gunvolt Review
Inti Creates is a company that I really adore, they have made a lot of great games, including my favorite megaman series, Megaman Zero and also the Megaman ZX games. As of right now, their work force and the attention of fans has been on the very much anticipated, Mighty Number 9, the spiritual successor of the classic Megaman series, however, a certain game by the same studio, under supervision of Keiji Inafune, has fallen under the radar.
As excited as I am for Mighty no.9, I was looking forward more to this game, Azure striker Gunvolt, the look of it, the feel, the new concepts of the story and the few pieces of music had me hooked. However, it fell into obscurity, due to that not many promotions and the english trailer coming out literally the day it came out. So, was there a reason that lead the game to not get that much attention aside from the lack of promotion? Is it different enough from the Zero and ZX games to be considered it’s own thing? Let’s find out, get your septimal powers ready! It’s time for my review of Azure Striker Gunvolt! I love that name!
At Some point in the future, people with different psychic powers, known as Septima, start appearing all over the world, leading normal humans to start fearing them. The ‘Adepts’ as they are called have a huge conflict against humans, until a large company known as the 'Sumeragi Group’ takes control over the nation and world, maintaining peace between both sides…by doing experiments on adepts and sending them to concentrations camps.
Enter Q.U.I.L.L., an organization led by adepts who, yes want peace, but go against the Sumeragi ideology, leading attacks against the company. Cue our Main Character, Gunvolt, a young 14 year old boy who is a member of Quill due to his septimal power, fighting as a member of their army. During a mission, he works to infiltrate a base to destroy one of the sources of Sumeragi’s power, the Muse, a system that supposedly gives the power to the enemy.
However, he doesn’t find a super-computer or a metal gear, instead he finds a young girl, Joule, attached to a monstrosity of a machine and her psychic vocaloid persona, Lumen aka. The Muse. Against his orders to kill Joule, he quits Q.U.I.L.L. and goes freelancer, taking the girl with him and promising to protect her, even though he is now labeled as a terrorist, taking many jobs from Q.U.I.L.L. and being chased down by Sumeragi and their leader, Nova.
I was excited for this plot, it reminded me to some extent of the Zero series, probably due to the who “Government vs Resistance” plot line, but it isn’t as heavy or as much as content full as the Zero series…At least in the english version.
Apparently the Japanese version has a lot more plot and character interactions than the english version, even being fully voice acted. I have seen some videos showing characters talking to you in the middle of the level with out interrupting gameplay. But it seems like the translation team only focused on key dialogue and nothing else, which is kind of disappointing, since I think the plot could be more, and technically it is more, but we didn’t get it.
Writing, when we actually get some, is pretty decent, actually I like it a lot, it is well written and it has some pretty good lines. However bear in mind that the game contains some censorship for curse works, turning “What the Fuck?!” into “What the Gack?!” or “Horseshit” into “Horsejitt”, though the censorship doesn’t stop Zonda from having some very sexually fueled lines.
Something that I must mention is that this game contains 2 endings, the bad ending and the true ending. The bad ending is pretty harsh at the heart strings and the true ending makes me want a sequel so bad! All and all, good story bro, not amazing, but if it was a movie, it would be great popcorn material.
The gameplay here looks and feels a lot like megaman. You move Gunvolt from left to right with the circle pad and the D-pad, which is my preferred version to move him. By holding the L trigger and a direction, Gunvolt will dash toward that direction, you can also spam the L trigger so it looks like he is a fucking bullet, It’s fun to do. With the B button you can jump, which was initially awkward, but I got used to it pretty quickly. You can shoot your tag bullets with the Y button, but they do little damage. You can tag an enemy up to 3 levels, and multiple enemies can be tagged at a time, and once the enemy is tagged, you can use either the A button or R trigger, which unleashes your electric shield, which will do massive damage to tagged enemies and little to enemies you haven’t tagged. This shield will also destroy most projectiles headed your way.
The gameplay is pretty fun, I loved blasting through this game as fast and as destructive as I could. While the variety of enemies isn’t THAT big, they know how to put get on your nerves with some of their abilities, or their placement, not due to cheapness, but challenge. Specially due to the ranking system focusing a lot on beating the stage QUICKLY, with out getting hit and killing EVERYTHING!. This is where the combo system comes in, the Kudos System is a combo counter at the top left of the screen. When you use your electrical abilities on an enemy, the counter goes up, specially if you tag the enemy up to 3 times. By destroying multiple enemies at once and doing it in the air, you get extra counter score. Once you reach 1000 Lumen will start singing a vocal track exclusive to that stage, and they are pretty good, this mode will also boost your power and speed slightly, However once you get hit, you are back to square one.
The bosses are pretty fun, each having different septimal powers and strategies for each one. Each one has very fun boss fights, and cunning ways for you to do your best to not loose your Kudos, which can be extremely difficult. Beating 4 specific bosses will give you new guns, which don’t do anything different aside from changing how you tag the enemy. Many bosses will kill you, but you have one trick up your sleeve, The Anthem mode.
Through out the game you can talk to Joule and Lumen to get along with them, and when you die, you get a chance that they’ll bring you back to life with an epic song, infinite electricity, infinite jumps and infinite air dash, it cancels the kudos system, but satisfaction of falling down, coming back up and destroying the enemy is glorious, and for those that don’t like it, have no fear, the chances for it happening are pretty random, which its disappointing, since I wish players could have more control over it.
Speaking of Joule and Lumen, through out the game you will find jewels through out the stages. You will NEED to collect these jewels and give them to your personal singer so you can unlock the true ending. To Obtain the true ending you need to beat the final LEVEL AND final BOSS with an item you’ll get from joule, DO NOT remove that item until after you beat the final boss. However you ARE required to play through the bad ending before you can go through the good one, which always confused me.
The controls are smooth and the game is fun, however hunting for the jewels can be a bit of a pain, specially the one in Viper’s stage, god I hate that one. It has enough stuff different from the Megaman games to make you think different strategies, but its fun all the same.
The characters in Azure Striker Gunvolt come in many flavors, some better than others, but the list includes:
- Gunvolt, Our protagonist.
- Joule, The Girl Gunvolt saves and who supports your adventure
- Lumen, Joule’s flirty Vocaloid Persona.
- Asimov, Q.U.I.L.L.’s leader and mentor to Gunvolt.
- Moniqa, Your mission control, assisting you through out the adventure and giving you your job.
- Geno, Gunvolt’s combat buddy and expert in fire arms.
- Merak, The Lazy
- Carrera, The Greedy. Am I the only one who thinks Gamagori from Kill la kill when I look at this guy?
- Elise, The Envious, and my personal favorite character(s)
- Daytona/Viper, The Angry, full of wrath and a bit of a fanboy
- Iota, The Prideful
- Stratos, The Hungry…Creepy fuck
- Zonda, The Lustful dual Gender
- Copen, The Adept Hunter
- Nova, The Mighty
I really enjoyed these characters, they are well written and are interesting. However we don’t get enough to actually say 'Good or bad’ so they are just…there, once again, due to the fact that many story elements and interactions were cut. It’s because of this the Elise is my favorite character, since her stage has the highest amount of plot or any form of character interaction, which is made even stronger with the plot twist about her dual personality.
The interactions between Gunvolt, Lumen/Joule are pretty cute, and you feel that they do care for each other, but I wish we could have gotten more, since it feels a bit…incomplete, like there should be more, to make it seem more real.
The bosses tend to follow their Sin pretty well but some don’t make much sense to me. I get how Daytona is wrath since he is angry at Gunvolt, but his reason is cause he loves Joule, so shouldn’t he be envy? and I have no idea what is the logic behind Carrera, he wants to fight everything with a pulse, how is that greed?
The art style of the age is beautiful, designed by Megaman Zero and ZX artist, Yoshitaka Hatakeyama, is has it’s own style, while having certain similarities to the afford mentioned games, like Gunvolt’s arm bracelets. You can see the art work specially well during the special attacks by either Gunvolt the bosses, showing the full detail of the characters and their armors.
There are a few story CGs but not that many, but when there are, they are a joy to look at. My two favorites are when Gunvolt walks in the true ending with Lumen behind him and when he sees Elise loose her fucking mind as her personalities go beserk.
The character designs are amazing, both in battle mode and in human mode, but I must mention the giant elephant in the room, Zonda.
The Dual Gendered fighter, now I actually like Zonda, Xe seems interesting, but holy shit is xis design for the male form is Phallic as fuck! A giant spear dick! You can see it yourself! Look at that thing! Overcompensation much? I really like the female mode, but do NOT expect me to take male mode seriously, cause that is…I don’t even know what to call it.
The music in the game is pretty good, nothing too special for the stages, but its memorable at least. It’s some high energy techno, similar to the ZX games. I am disappointed that the final boss themes aren’t has high energy or a powerful as the rest of the soundtrack or other soundtracks from inti-creates. However, the songs that take the cake HAVE to be the vocal themes by LUMEN. Either through reincarnation, or by having enough kudos, LUMEN will break into a Jpop vocal song and they are glorious, its a shame that there is no sound test so we can hear them, since some of them are very hard to listen since you have to reach 1000 Kudos to listen to them.
- Story: 7/10
- Gameplay: 9.6/10
- Characters: 8/10
- Art Style: 10/10
- Music: 9/10
- Total: 8.72/10
This is an amazing game and a beautiful love letter to fans of the Megaman franchise, specially those fans of Zero and ZX. It isn’t with out problems, but its positives really outweigh the negatives. The removal of the story is really disappointing, so I’m hoping the if it get’s a sequel, they will fix these problems, but that will only happen if we buy the game and are vocal enough about it.
Azure Striker Gunvolt is available only on the 3DS EShop for 15$, however if you buy it before November 28th, you get a second game for free called Mighty Gunvolt, in which you play as Gunvolt, Beck and Eriko from Angel Hearts in a Classic Megaman Style adventure. It’s pretty good deal if you ask me.
For alternate game recommendations I point to the Megaman Zero Collection, since its pretty much what this game is based on and it is a kick ass series. I also point you toward Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a game that, while with a completely different gameplay, has SOME similar elements and plot that is just as whacky.
Next time we meet, I’ll be Reviewing “Brynhildr In the Darkness”. So If you’ll excuse me, I’m the RunnerGuitar and I’m gonna go find out what my Septimal Power is.
MY SEPTIMA IS HEART!? WHAT KIND OF LAME POWER IS THAT!?