Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Nighthawk Interactive
Rating: T for Teen
Many developers have tried and failed at creating a game encompassing what makes Capcom’s iconic Mega Man series great. Thankfully, we have the Azure Striker Gunvolt series demonstrating what it takes while also providing a unique experience to make the games stand out. Now, developer Inti Creates has brought the fast-paced franchise to the Nintendo Switch as the Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack, and it does not disappoint on providing a rock-solid, robot blasting experience.
Violence: Bombastic action is front and center here with explosions and gunfire littering the screen, mainly against robotic enemies and a few humans who only let out groans when defeated and disappear. There is no blood or gore with enemy deaths.
Language/crude humor: There are some sensual innuendos between Gunvolt and some of his companions, but most of it is tame and just playful banter.
Sexual content: While not overtly sexual, some of the female characters wear somewhat revealing clothing.
The Azure Strike Gunvolt: Striker Pack is a compilation of Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 and Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, both released previously on the Nintendo 3DS. They were developed by Indie crates, makers of the Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX series. Of course, Azure Striker Gunvolt is heavily inspired by the fast-paced, pixel-perfect action that you had seen in those games.
Both, Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 and Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, take place in an unspecified futuristic setting in which you take the role of Gunvolt, who is tasked with defeating an evil organization that has been performing weird experiments on people known as Adepts. Adepts are basically people who have been given unique abilities which make them super powerful and the organization is trying to take advantage of this.The Striker Pack is very much structured around the Mega Man type of setting, with the level designs and even having a boss selection screen where you can decide on which one of the enemies you want to take on next. A big thing that makes the Azure Striker Gunvolt games stand out however, is how Gunvolt can use his flash field which sends out an electric shock to anything around him and can do a lot of damage to enemies. To do this, you first have to shoot an enemy using your normal gun to target them. You can also get different firing rates and types of shots as you go through the game.
While shooting does destroy enemies, it doesn’t do as much damage as targeting them and using the flash field to dish out a ton of damage. However, the flash field is limited, and once its percentage hits zero you overheat, causing you to wait for it to fully charge back up; you can use it in smaller amounts and let it charge up quicker. Also, taking damage from enemies will cause it to go down a lot quicker and makes it so you can’t use the flash field during certain situations such as boss encounters.
There are also other abilities to use in conjunction with the flash field, such as being able to activate certain switches or getting platforms to move, and even being able to see in the dark. The flash field can also allow you to fall slowly while its being used much like a glider to reach platforms and ledges further out. Other than the flash field, Gunvolt can use a dash which allows him to move more quickly or make longer jumps. In Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 specifically, Gunvolt can perform an air dash, making traversing the environments much more manageable.
You can also gather items that you can use to upgrade your abilities. For example, you can acquire a double jump. To do this, you have to synthesize these items by finding secret medals throughout a level and getting a better ranking at the end of a stage. After completing each stage, you are given the option of flipping over tiles with the amount of points you earned from playing the level. Each time you will be given different materials which then can be used to craft certain equipment.
Along with this, you also have secondary abilities you can unlock by leveling up and defeating certain boss characters and completing levels. These certain moves can only be used a certain number of times before you end up running out and then you have to wait for them to recharge. These abilities are valuable because they can allow you to perform devastating moves against your enemies, recover your health, or instantly recharge your flash field gauge if you overheat. It’s very easy to select the ability you want to use as all you have to do is use the right control stick to select the ability you with to perform. However, actually activating the ability is more of a chore due to having to click in the right stick to use which can sometimes cause you inadvertently change the ability to be performed.
Once you get the grasp of what Gunvolt can do, that’s when the action becomes really fun and begins to pick up in the Striker Pack. You eventually get to embrace the grandiose moments, especially with the boss battles. Learning the patterns and trying to best them are some of the greatest moments of enjoyment I found with the title.
The bosses, as you know, are an important part to the Striker Pack, and they definitely do not disappoint. As you whittle their health down, they take on other forms with different attack patterns; at their weakest states, they can perform some truly devastating attacks which fill the screen with an insurmountable deluge of carnage. Needless to say, the bosses look great and require perfect timing and training to learn all the ends and outs to defeat them.
There is a good amount of story and dialogue to go through while playing the main campaigns, and it is all well-told with detailed still images and stunning artwork. Every scene is skippable, but if you want to invest in the story, there is a lot of content here and I was surprised at the amount of dialogue and exposition throughout the entirety of the experience.
While both games are very similar in gameplay and presentation, Azure Strike Gunvolt 2 features a second unique playable character, Copen, your rival from the first title, who plays a bit differently from Gunvolt. He doesn’t have the flash field, but instead, offers better maneuverability and is able to acquire different firing abilities. It is a positive change for sure, and adds a change of pace for the series with the wholly unique abilities he’s able to perform apart from Gunvolt.
If you’ve played these games before, what’s new in the Striker Pack is that all of the patches have already been implemented, and the title runs at a solid 60 fps with the visuals during gameplay and cutscenes being spruced up. The Striker Pack looks great both in handheld mode and also while docked. Still, although being that the two games came out on the 3DS, the graphics can sometimes look a little too enlarged when playing on a TV.
Overall, if you never have had the chance to play these titles or are a fan of retro action games and the Mega Man Zero/ZX games, I would highly recommend checking Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack. Even if you’ve already played the series, they look even better when played on the Switch with the added graphical enhancements and smooth gameplay.
The Bottom Line