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Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) artwork

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) review

"Mighty Gunvolt Burst is the perfect antidote to the sour taste Mighty No. 9 might have left in your mouth."

I backed Mighty No. 9 on Kickstarter. I haven't actually gotten around to playing that game, though, in part because I've heard a lot of bad things about it. Overwhelmingly negative word of mouth can be discouraging, you know?

My investment wasn't a total loss, though. It allowed me to play a separate game that was made free to backers just like me: Mighty Gunvolt. Unfortunately, as my review for that other title attests, I didn't wind up having a good time. So when Mighty Gunbolt Burst arrived on the Nintendo Switch, you might have expected me to happily skip it. You would be wrong, though. Glutton for punishment that I am, I downloaded the new release, played it, and... actually liked it!

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) image

Mighty Gunvolt Burst brings together key characters from Mighty No. 9 and Azure Striker Gunvolt (rather like Mighty Gunvolt did before it). Beck and Gunvolt now find themselves trapped in a virtual training world, where they must face off against eight robot bosses and eventually an evil hacker with a meme obsession and too much time on his hands. You can tackle the campaign as either one of the protagonists, and along the way, you'll run into the other guy and the two of you will battle briefly before you realize you aren't actually enemies. Then there are another few stages and the game ends.

Since there are only around 12 stages in all, it's possible to run through everything in around an hour once you are familiar with everything (and there's even an in-game achievement available if you can manage that). I spent much longer on my initial run, though, because there's a lot more to the experience than meets the eye and because you're rewarded for revisiting stages even after you clear them.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) image

The game starts with a rather easy introductory stage, and then you can attempt any of the next eight stages in whatever order you like. As in a Mega Man game, the robots you face have different elemental weaknesses, and you can claim those elements when you win. However, elemental attacks don't seem to matter much. It's just as easy to face off against most foes with non-elemental strikes, because you can customize the heck out of your arm cannon. Once you find the required chips, you'll be able to tweak everything from bullet speed, to attack power, to penetration, to ammo type and more. All you have to do is spend CP, which are dropped by enemies or sometimes hidden around stages, but which are most easily acquired by selecting that option from the menu one of the first three times you clear a given stage.

When I first played Mighty Gunvolt Burst, I thought it was extremely difficult at first. I hadn't come fully to terms with the upgrade system. The first time I cleared each stage, I would always grab the element, which meant it took me a long time to amass enough CP to sufficiently upgrade my character (which also was capable of learning non-offensive abilities, like an air slide or double jump). Robot bosses employ reasonably complex patterns, with several attacks, not to mention a hyper mode that triggers once they have only about half their life left. Surviving battles without sufficient firepower and defensive abilities is downright difficult. I was winning battles, but the game definitely made me dust off some old skills I hadn't used in a while.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) image

Then I figured out how to really play. I started looking around stages more carefully, finding weak walls and hidden rooms that contained invaluable upgrade chips. I refined my character until it was a finely tuned machine. Suddenly, I was able to stomp over any boss I met. It was a bit of a process, and that could have gotten dull quickly, but it didn't have a chance to lose my interest because the stage design here is much better than it was in Mighty Gunvolt.

I don't want to give you the idea that Mighty Gunvolt Burst's levels are the equal of some of the iconic moments you might have encountered when playing through old Mega Man games. The Capcom classics featured dazzling art design and memorable enemies that I can picture any time I close my eyes. Those games stuck with a person, and a lot of what I faced in this newer game didn't make a similar impression. However, there were quite a few natural hazards along the way that gave me some trouble and demanded my attention in ways reminiscent of the blue bomber's adventures. You'll find a lot of bottomless pits, spiked floors and ceilings, along with giant machines that clearly have you outgunned and some devious enemy placement.

Sadly, the art direction leaves something to be desired. The stage backdrops look a bit more detailed than the NES could easily have managed, but they are missing some of the style that the Mega Man and particularly the Mega Man X franchises made look so easy. I know the use of the limited palette was intentional, because the artists were consciously going for a retro vibe. And they almost nail it. They just... don't quite. A more detailed visual design, with nicer textures and shading and so forth, would probably have bumped things up to that next level. And a better soundtrack wouldn't have hurt, either. What's here isn't bad, it just doesn't get my foot tapping the way classic Mega Man tunes once did.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) image

You may have noticed that I'm making a lot of comparisons to the Mega Man series. But this isn't a Mega Man game, even if it sometimes seems to wish it were, and there are differences beyond even the weapon modification system. The other big twist is the "burst" system, which rewards you for getting up close and personal as you strike. The closer you are, the more damage your attacks seem to do, but the greater your risk of taking some damage of your own. When you destroy an adversary that's right in front of you, the "burst" attack triggers a combo. If you keep defeating subsequent foes in a similar manner, you'll make the number and your score climb. However, I didn't see a lot of benefit to it. I earned S ranks when clearing stages, even when I didn't have combos going. What's more important is that you keep moving in a hurry and don't let your character lose lives in the process. You have as many lives as you need, so your score is the true measure of your success.

As you mop the floor with your enemies, you clear in-game challenges that award you with "pixel stickers," but these also don't seem to do anything except look pretty on one of the game's menu screens. And you are recognized for overcoming challenges, but that just means more stickers. A lot of the stuff the game does to differentiate itself from the Mega Man series just doesn't matter much. The best thing I can say on its behalf is that at least it doesn't detract from the experience or get in the way of a good time.

If you're looking for a new game along the lines of the classic Mega Man titles, Mighty Gunvolt Burst is just the ticket. It costs just under $10 on the North American eShop, and it should provide you with several hours of enjoyable play. No, it's not better than the best of the franchise that clearly inspired it, but I'm happy to have it in my collection and I can imagine myself returning to it later. Even if you felt a bit stung by the Mighty No. 9 situation, the game is a bargain and missing out on it would be a mistake.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (June 17, 2017)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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hastypixels posted June 24, 2017:

It seems like Mighty No. 9 players are always in need of consolation after the debacle that was its launch. Having paid for and played the title, I can understand that. I'm glad that Beck gets a chance to win over player's fingers, hearts and minds in newer outings.

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