Sunday, August 31, 2014

Game Review: Azure Striker Gunvolt

2D Action/Platformer; 3DS eShop; Inti-Creates; 2014
Okay, first thing's first. Yes, I am aware of the fact that Anita Sarkeesian has released a new video, and yes I know just how stupid it is, but I'm not going to do a critique of that video yet. I just did a rant on Zoe Quinn and I would rather keep this blog about Video Games and Anime rather than the people are ruining them. And so I've decided to review a game which I was heavily anticipating since it was announced: Azure Striker Gunvolt. Was it worth the hype? Find out in my review.

Yes, all us angels have braided ponytails.
In the distant future, people with psychic powers started appearing. These "Adepts" threatened the peace with their unnatural powers, that is until the Sumeragi Group, a powerful energy cooperation, devised a method to "treat" and "control" these Adepts. With the power of Adepts, the Sumeragi Group soon controlled everything under the guise of protection. That is until QUILL, a resistance force, stepped in. One of their members, known only as Gunvolt, is a powerful Adept with the power to control electricity. After being sent on a mission to destroy the Virtual Idol Lumen, Gunvolt discovers that Lumen is a projection of another Adept, a young girl named Joule. Gunvolt then rescues Joule, which sends him on a path against both the Sumeragi Group and even his own organization QUILL. Can Gunvolt keep Joule safe from those who wise to use her powers?

The story is okay for the most part. A basic set up that helps move the action, and the characters (with what little characterization is given) are fairly well done and likable. My major problem with the story however is it's ending. The game has multiple endings based on a certain condition that must be fulfilled to get the good ending, but even the good ending is kind of a downer. It isn't a depressing ending per-say, but it doesn't help galvanize the player to play more. Also, and this happened upon further reflection, the ending has one major plot hole that isn't explained. To go into it would be to go into spoilers so I won't cover that here, I'll just say that the story was good, but the ending could have been better.

Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!
If you are looking at these screenshots and think "Hey! This game looks like Mega Man Zero and ZX!" then you are not far off. Inti-Creates made both the Zero and ZX series, and that style is reflected greatly in Gunvolt. Gunvolt runs, jumps, shoots, and even wall climbs just like the good old Mega Man games. But that isn't to say that Gunvolt is just Mega Man in a different outfit. While Gunvolt does fire a gun a lot, that isn't his main method of attack. Rather the Gun does minimum damage, but it tags the enemy for his Flash Field, which normally destroys nearby projectiles, deal damage to enemies within it, and slows Gunvolt's descent, but when an enemy is tagged with his gun, the Flash Field now shoots lightning bolts directly to the enemy, dealing more damage with each tag. This changes gameplay to one where you try to tag as many enemies as possible and zap them all at once thanks to the new Kudos system which awards players with bonus points for such tactics, and when you get to 1,000 Kudos one of Lumen's songs will play giving you added effects. However, Kudos only get converted to points when you uses one of your super-powered Skills (customizable and accessed by the touch screen) or when you get a check point, but all of those Kudos go instantly away when you get hit. Though there are several accessories to swap around that will change your play style, most of the game uses this tag and bolt gameplay; however, it never gets old or tiring and each stage in the game offers an unique way that this power can interact with the environment, from destroying platforms, to moving objects around, to activating switches. This gives each of the game's stages their own unique feel and method of completion.

*SARCASM* Yeah, it's not difficult at all.
However, the game is unfortunately not perfect. With how much is going on on screen, and the fact that Flash Field is a visually busy effect, it becomes really hard to keep track of everything, especially yourself. There are several times in the game where I was hit but I have no idea what actually hit me. The game also has a Challenge feature where you can get materials for creating accessories by completing challenges in each stage. Said challenges are your standard affair with clear the stage in under 8 minutes or clear the stage with a B ranking, and other more stage specific challenges; however, each challenge must be accepted before selecting the stage, and all stage specific challenges require you to clear the stage first in order to get challenges. So even if you beat the stage with over a B rank and under 8 minutes on your first try, you didn't clear the challenge until you accept it from the base menu.

In the end Gunvolt is a really fun game that is unfortunately bogged down by a few little things, like the unfriendly challenge system and a disappointing ending. If you love Inti-Creates' work on the Mega Man series or 16 bit era action games in general, this is a must play. However, I kind of feel like this game could have been a lot more than what it was, and that could possibily be because of how open Inti-Creates was with the limitation that they had in doing the US release, and also the bad taste the ending left. But hopefully this is just the beginning of a beautiful franchise. Highly Recommended.

Until Next time.

-Crescent, It's Badass Time NOW!

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