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Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (3DS) artwork

Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (3DS) review


"Wrapping up the story from the previous game, and then some."


The first Azure Striker Gunvolt was a fun action game from the team previously responsible for Mega Man Zero. In many ways, it felt like Zero's spiritual successor. Unfortunately, during the localization process, the developer decided to chop a lot of content out of the game. That was especially true where story dialogue and voice acting were concerned. Those cuts led to a final product that felt incomplete, and the overall quality was diminished.

Simple cuts would have been bad enough, but the localization team also almost completely redesigned the Gunvolt character. They eventually settled on a compromise that covered his mid-riff while leaving his hair alone. That cut content was eventually restored for the game's Steam release, and a speed run mode was added. The team promised to bring the superior new localization to the aging game's 3DS version, but the effort was eventually put on the back burner as the team went to work on the sequel.

Now, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 has finally arrived. And thankfully, it has done so as a complete package. Inti-Creates appears to have learned its lesson. Not only that, but the sequel is a much better game in certain other respects, which is cause for celebration.

Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is actually two games in one, since you can now play as either Copen or Gunvolt. Although you go through the same levels in either scenario, the order in which you face the adepts changes. Copen plays differently enough from Gunvolt that it's worth playing his scenario, even if you're not particularly interested in his story content (and frankly, the story featured in both campaigns isn't all that great, serving mostly as a rehash of the one players were told the previous time around). Although Copen doesn't get much in the way of character development, Gunvolt does get some nice attention this time around.

When you play as Copen, you'll find that he functions much like Gunvolt does. He has his own version of the Flash-field, for instance, and he can use EX Skills that imitate Gunvolt's electricity ability. Copen can even dash into an enemy to plant a tag that will then allow him to pump homing shots into the tagged target from a distance. These use "Bullits," which limit the frequency with which he can unleash such attacks and prevent him from relying on them. He needs to recharge over time, much like Gunvolt, or he can reload instantly if you double tap Down on the d-pad.

Copen differentiates himself from Gunvolt, though, when it comes to movement. He is innately more mobile than his counterpart. You can use Bullits to dash in the air, or diagonally upwards until you run out of them. His EX skills also do more than imitate Gunvolt's powers. In an apparent nod to the Blue Bomber, he can even gain the powers of fallen adepts. Those abilities aren't necessarily more effective on certain bosses, but they still prove useful. Another of Copen's differences concerns equipment. He has programs that give passive skills, as if he were equipping different weapons. Each program uses a set number of memory blocks, and you can earn more memory by leveling up or by picking up expansions hidden in each level. This setup is nice, since Gunvolt only has two weapon slots and four accessory slots. Copen overcomes that limitation, and is more versatile as a result.

Available improvements to the core game are welcome, as well. The game is still easy enough that more casual players ought to be able to complete it painlessly enough, but earning Kudos and completing challenges is still quite difficult. Thankfully, those challenges have been improved compared to the form they took in the first game. Instead of picking three challenges before going into a level, you can attempt any of them. However, you'll still need to beat the level before the challenges for that level unlock. This is unfortunate, as you can complete the challenge on your first run but won't get credit until you do so again. It's still better than the first game's approach, however.

Another improvement worth noting is the extra dialog that plays in the level, which was cut from the first game. This gives players some background info as to what's going on within a stage. The number of conversations available from the 'Talk' menu option has also increased. The last game cut most of those exchanges, so it's nice to see them included in full here. Unfortunately, Inti-Creates did not provide an English dub this time around, so the in-game banter is hard to follow while you're busy playing through the levels.

One major gripe I had with the original game was the way that material grinding felt so random. You had to use medals to have a better chance at acquiring certain materials. That hasn't changed this time around, which is unfortunate. Such gripes are admittedly quite minor, but they do add up and prevent the game from meriting a higher score.

Despite Inti-Creates not improving things enough to make Gunvolt's stages more interesting to play, or to give proper character development to Copen, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 still represents a huge improvement over the first game. The graphics still look great, the music is good, and the game now has a Speed Attack mode that caters to speed runners. Copen's skills are interesting and at least slightly makes up for Gunvolt's bland gameplay.

In any event, the levels included here are interesting to play, and the adepts are as crazy as ever. Defeating them is a true delight. If you loved the first game, you should find even more to like about the sequel. Inti-Creates has proven once again that it is skilled at developing action games, and Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 earns itself a solid recommendation.

4/5

EricRPG's avatar
Freelance review by Eric Kelly (November 14, 2016)

Eric Kelly likes writing about RPGs, reading non-fiction (usually academic in nature), watching anime, and listening to mostly video game music. So a total nerd.

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