Review: Azure Striker Gunvolt (Nintendo 3DS eShop Download)

Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune and Inti Creates team up to release Azure Striker Gunvolt, an action platformer now available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop in North America for $14.99.

Okay, enough of that. I can’t pretend to be the huge admirer of Inafune that many of you probably are; I didn’t actually grow up playing Mega Man games, so just about all I can be right now is indifferent. This means I approached Azure Striker Gunvolt with little to no material I could form prior opinions with. Whether that’s good or bad depends largely on you. So let’s get on with this review!

Gunvolt, our titular hero, is a skilled psychic fighter known as an “adept” in a dystopian future. His specialty is lighting, so he fights using a combination of a simple blaster (different models become available) and his electric “flashfield.” Shooting enemies with Gunvolt’s weapon does minor damage, but the important thing is that it also “tags” them, causing a cursor to appear over them that guarantees lighting from the flashfield will hit them when Gunvolt uses it. This is where the real attack power is at, but the flashfield drains Gunvolt’s EP meter.

Those are the basics of combat, but how do they actually feel control-wise? The controls can be customized to a degree by the player, but the default control scheme involves shooting with Y, jumping with B, and using the flashfield by holding A (or R). The L button gives Gunvolt a burst of speed, but I found it more natural to dash with the Kirby-esque double-tap on the D-pad. The controls are inherently simple, but require a lot of skill to master, adding up to a fun and satisfying endeavor.

Fortunately, you can put your skills to the test on several enemy-filled levels, each of which ends in a challenging boss fight. The levels are fairly linear, but they occasionally deviate in unexpected ways. One level shifts to an upside-down perspective midway through, for example. Together, the gameplay and level design work well with one another…for the most part. I found the pacing to be a tad strange in many spots throughout the game: the level design wasn’t always up to par, and the boss fights ranged from real easy to real difficult, and in no particular order.

As far as story goes, Gunvolt is standard fare; his job is to save the girl and save the world. The boss characters are named and have personalities, but they’re all somewhat forgettable. There are a few standouts who have interesting interactions with Gunvolt and other NPC’s, but I appreciated the vibe given off by the graphics more than anything. The world leaves a favorable impression thanks to the character designs and backgrounds.

For dedicated players, Gunvolt offers a series of challenges, some general, most corresponding to certain levels. These involve killing enemies in certain ways, getting specific rankings on a level, etc. It’s up to you to apply these challenges and report back after levels to collect the rewards. Speaking of rewards, materials found by completing levels and successfully taking on challenges can be used to synth several types of gear to upgrade Gunvolt’s loadout in a myriad of ways. Gunvolt himself also levels up, learning many different skills along the way. When all’s said and done, the game can have just about as much or as little depth and replay value as the player wishes.

Azure Striker Gunvolt is a no-brainer for fans of action platformers. It’s well worth considering even if you’re not an aficionado of the genre, as it’s just plain fun, not to mention cool. The controls and gameplay are solid, which makes wielding the power of lighting as awesome as it should be. The game scores:

4/5 Stars

7 Responses to Review: Azure Striker Gunvolt (Nintendo 3DS eShop Download)

  1. Colin Crompton says:

    Great review. It has really piqued my interest due to me being a huge MegaMan fan, downside is Europe has not yet received a solid release date for this game.

    North America gets all the cool stuff first I guess.

  2. RisnDevil says:

    ^_- Colin, the Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds preorder chest that you Europeans got would like to disagree about who gets the cool stuff!!

    That having been said, did you play the 16-bit Mighty Gunvolt game yet, Holly? What did you think of that?

  3. Colin Crompton says:

    @RisnDevil I would gladly trade all the physical preorder stuff that Europe seems to get a lot of for a chance to play Shin Megami Tensei 4. There’s also the various other games for other systems that North America gets several months before we do here.

  4. Holly Fellmeth says:

    Not net, not even a bit. I’ve moved on to Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, plus I’ve got StarTropics and other NES games to play, but I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

  5. RisnDevil says:

    @Colin – Have to disagree again. First, I (generally) play really long, epic, games. As such, my back log is RIDICULOUS. This means that games come out faster than I can play them. Secondly, add into the mix that I play games on both my WiiU and 3DS (and my PS4 and PS Vita) and I would rather know that I can get the cool collections/collectors editions to be able to show my nerdy hobbies/interests even while not actively playing the games. Lastly, I can’t argue that NoE IN THE PAST made some grave localization errors/missteps/delays, but those are becoming fewer and farther between these days (and you can’t blame NoE for SMTIV, since that is on Atlus). BUT, NoA has made no effort to improve the physical rewards/promotions/other cool stuff that we simply don’t get.

  6. *Not yet

    I’m the typo queen, sorry. 😉

    We did get Fire Emblem Awakening here in the States first, but Europe got The Wonderful 101 before us. Those are just two examples that stick out to me. I think it generally balances out, but our Club Nintendo rewards are absolute crap at the moment. I always hope that’ll change, but hope is beginning to dwindle. :/

  7. Colin Crompton says:

    I certainly agree, NoE has improved their localization efforts in recent years, but it still seems like a random choice of what they do decide to bring over and when they finally decide what to localise it is severely delayed.

    I think one of the worst examples I can think of is Super Smash bros brawl which was released in Europe four months after the North American version.

    Still at least NoE tries to localise some titles, Nintendo Australia (NAL) doesn’t seem to care.

    Europes Club Nintendo rewards are pretty terrible at the moment as well. I hope we get some sort of platinum status type scheme over here at some point, though I somewhat doubt it will ever happen.

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