After a long line of Mega Man games on handheld systems, Inti Creates proves themselves to
be the masters of the genre once more, this time with a new IP, Azure Striker Gunvolt. ASG is about as Mega Man Zero/ZX as Mighty No. 9 is Mega Man, and while it does invite some comments about niche specialties or one-trick-pony syndrome, it is tried, proven, and still every bit as successful a formulae as it has ever been.
Azure Striker Gunvolt is an action-packed platform shooter, just like the previous titles, except instead of Reploids and robots, we deal instead with living breathing people with emotions (and are supposed to have emotions), a developing plot, motivations other than 'because it's what I was programmed to do', and gameplay that is as hard as you want it to be. Surely that's impossible, though, no?
Gunvolt has a resource bar that recharges when not in use. His primary ability, the Flashfield, drains the energy meter, and in-so-doing, serves as both mobile utility and the only offensive tool you will ever truly need. The Flashfield does paltry damage to foes by default, as does Gunvolt's regular 'shoot' attack that is a staple of most of this genre, but when you shoot something and hit it, it is 'tagged'. An enemy can have up to 3 tags on it at once, with a stacking benefit, but as of at least one tag, at any time that you have the Flashfield active, a current of electricity arcs from you to the foe, dealing nontrivial damage. How does this change up the Mega Man gameplay mechanic? Because of this change, fights with enemies are turned into a more dramatic show of flashy powers and timing, turning more into a 'can you dodge this?' than a 'Shoot me with x before I get you' that we have grown accustomed to.
Because of this aspect, every single fight in the game is inherently more defensive than offensive. Instead of an invulnerability period after each time you hit the boss, damage is instead done gradually over time, and your primary concern is living long enough to see that bar drain all the way down. Which leads me to Prevasion. The Prevasion pendant is an item you begin the game with, and it is strong and powerful enough to last you through the entire title. The pendant allows the Prevasion mechanic, which is as such. If you are hit by anything that would normally damage you, have EP (The aforementioned energy bar, which actually stands for Electro Psycho) to spare, and do not currently have Flashfield active, you instead lose a chunk of EP, become invulnerable for a short period, and take 0 damage. Because of this, the game once more demonstrates a very clear dichotomy between Offense and Defense, even encouraging you to stop attacking if you are likely to take damage. EP can also be recharged almost instantly, as often as you like, by tapping the down key twice.
A beginner to this sort of game could keep Prevasion, double-tap down after each hit, and essentially walk through every level in the game to get to the boss with little difficulty other than the annoyance of hearing Gunvolt make an 'ouch' noise 50,000 times. Since ASG rewards players not only for completion speed, but also a point multiplier (that zeroes whenever you take damage or prevasion), and gives the player successively greater rewards for having high scores, though, the completionist or advanced player will forego Prevasion entirely, collect all of the McGuffins, and unlock the game's True Ending.
That's right. You cannot --Spoilers Redacted-- and keep Prevasion.
There are other mechanics, such as the Anthem, that you can opt into, that also make the game easier too, if you need it. Anthem is an energy refill and unlimited EP until the end of the stage the next time you would 'die'. There are also skills you can use to deal massive damage, refill your EP, and more. Craftable gear adds double-jumps, airdashes, and other mainstays from the MMZ franchise, and acquirable ammo will change the core gameplay of Tagging depending on which bullets you are firing.
This game is both refreshing and also a safe investment, if you liked the other IntiCreates games, and you should go grab it right now. The Steam version reintroduces the original voice acting, as well as a time-attack mode that was not available on the 3DS at launch. Oh, and steam achievements. Who can forget those delicious morsels? The soundtrack is uplifting and makes your spirit feel like you are soaring through your own imagination, so that the anime-style cut-ins during major skill uses almost seem entirely in place with the feel and atmosphere created by this game.
In the end, though, you will just have to take my word for it. Buy this game, and buy it immediately and without hesitation, if you like what IntiCreates did with the Mega Man games.
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Article by Marc