I don’t remember the last time I was so easily won over by a game than when I first started playing Azure Striker Gunvolt 2. I bought the game’s predecessor when it was first released a few years ago on the 3DS and found myself unimpressed.
Azure Striker Gunvolt came with a demake of the game called Mighty Gunvolt, which reimagined the game as an 8-bit action title with chibi-styled characters. I was more intrigued by the demake than I was by the game, as it was the first time we could play as Beck from Mighty No. 9. Yes, there was a time that we were really excited about that game.
When I tried playing the standard release, Azure Striker Gunvolt turned me off within the first mission. It was incredibly heavy on dialogue and from what I can remember, the combat didn’t reveal its true self immediately. Mighty Gunvolt, while relying on its charm and straightforwardness in gameplay, still felt tainted after the bad taste left from Azure Striker Gunvolt.
It surprised me because of the history of the developer, Inti Creates, and how successful they had been specifically with the Mega Man and Mega Man Zero franchises in the past.
In hindsight, I must have played it at the wrong time of day on the wrong week. Looking back at the game gives me nothing, at least visually, that would indicate my dislike for the game.
Thankfully, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 grabbed me quickly and has me wishing I had seen the first game all the way through. This time around, you can choose to play between either Gunvolt or his rival Copen, each providing a unique way to play through the game. They both have the same attack mechanics, but with specific styles about each of them that change gameplay up a bit.
I spent the first fifteen minutes pressing the A button more to skip through dialogue than I did in combat, but admittedly it caused me to slow down and pay attention to the story a bit. In a game like this, my approach and want is to jump right into the action and gather the story through gameplay and tidbits I find in the world or the manual. I found myself changing a little bit, realizing that I can’t change the game and I can only adapt to it. Doing so let me appreciate it for what it is, rather than what I want it to be.
This seems hypocritical to me, especially just hours after reviewing Slain: Back from Hell, but here I’m not wishing to change the core game and its mechanics, only some of how it is presented to me. Accepting that presentation for how the developers want me to experience the story is giving me the opportunity to see something different for a change and to see something from someone else’s perspective. It’s pretty astonishing and it feels good.
Without much surprise coming from the team who worked on the Mega Man franchise heavily during the days of the Game Boy Advance, this game pulls me right back to those GBA platformers in the way it feels and in the way it looks. The animation and character design in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 look like the best games from that era now presented in higher resolution.
I’m not very far into the game but from what I’ve played, I really enjoy it. Full Japanese dialogue with English subtitles is gratifying a part of my brain that I didn’t know was turned on. In combination with a story that taught me to slow down and care, the art and gameplay have come together to help create a really wonderful package in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2.
Look for a full review of the game soon, but if you’re on the fence I’d recommend checking out some videos of the game to push you one way or the other. If you like the old Mega Man Zero games and you want a really solid action platformer with stellar art and gameplay, give this a go.