Review: Azure Striker Gunvolt 2

Jason Phang, Sun 02 October 2016, Gaming

gaming, gunvolt, megaman

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I blazed through two games this weekend. The first was Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, a sequel to the spiritual successor to the Mega Man series, Azure Striker Gunvolt.

As with the first Gunvolt, Gunvolt 2 features fast-paced 2D platforming action, tropey bosses, a snarky Gunvolt, way too many things happening on screen (in a good way!) while you decimate enemies and bosses alike.

The primary change from Gunvolt is that Gunvolt 2 features the Protoman-esque rival from Gunvolt, Copen, as a second fully playable character. They didn't pull any punches with this one: Copen has a completely different play-style (right down to a different menu interface), along with a completely different set of stages and bosses, save for the final stretch of "Wily" stages. Whereas Gunvolt relies on tagging enemies with his gun and then damaging them by activating his "flash-field", Copen's gimmick is his "Bullit" dash, in which he dashes forward and upon colliding with an enemy, they are tagged for homing fire from his regular buster. In addition, Copen takes after the original Mega Man gameplay more in inheriting weapons from the bosses he defeats in the form of "Ex-Weapons". My opinion is that Copen plays much more easily than Gunvolt - his stock of "bullits" also give him the damage-defying "prevasion" status, only he doesn't need to take nearly as much risk as Gunvolt does to dish out damage, given his homing attacks and Ex-Weapons.

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All in all the second game's mechanics are solid, if a little underused. Gunvolt plays largely the same, but Copen is a welcome introduction, both with his plethora of new weapons and new gameplay style. Unlike Mighty No. 9, I readily recommend this game for its gameplay alone.

Gunvolt 2 is not without its issues, however: It's on the shorter side, though not surprising considering it's astoundingly low price point of $14.99. I finished both character stories, along with the true endings, in under 6 hours of play time. It does seem like there is a fair amount of post-game content though, including visiting stages from the other character as well as a secret "true true" ending. As with the original Gunvolt, the game is on the easier side. Unlike the first game, the difficulty doesn't ramp up ridiculously for the true final battle, although it does lean toward the harder side at the end. Also at with the original, the game is a little lacking on the level design front. This is something that started happening with the Zero games, where Inticreates increasingly focused on gameplay mechanics over level design - in GV2, most of the game involves proceeding fairly linearly through stages and decimating enemies. This is in contrast to the original Mega Man games, which had fairly simple and uniform mechanics but creatively designed challenging levels that forced players to master the physics and mechanics of Mega Man to get through. I think the uninteresting levels and short game length really do the mechanics a disservice. Both Gunvolt and Copen have a variety of distinct and interesting ways of traversing stages and interacting with environments, and while we are teased occasionally with such mechanics, they are not explored nearly enough. The story still confuses me.

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All in all, I really enjoyed the game - especially ceonsidering my main qualm is that I wanted more of it. If I had to score it, I'd give it somewhere around a 7.5/10, with a higher score if you're really fond of the Mega Man Zero style games (so for me, it's like an 8.5/10).