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Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) artwork

Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch) review

"Can be summed up in one sentence: it's basically Mega Man"

Mighty Gunvolt Burst is a game by IntiCreates, who also developed many of this century's Mega Man games. And it uses characters created by Keiji Inafune, who was the longtime producer on Mega Man games. Why do I bring that up? Because frankly, about 90% of what you need to know about this game can be summed up in one sentence. Namely, this game is pretty darn similar to Mega Man.

It's an action platformer like Mega Man. There are two main actions for you: jump and shoot. You get to pick your level (after an introductory level, there are 8 different levels that open up to you which you can tackle in any order that you wish, followed by a series of boss levels), and you run through it on a relatively linear path. This path will meander about, including vertical components and some moving left instead of right. You'll face slow moving robots, robots that shoot, robots that jump out of pits, huge robots, you know, the usual fare. You also have each level based around a theme, which can impact the platforming part of the game. So water levels let you jump really high (but you must avoid lots of spikes), or other levels have disappearing blocks or whatever. Very familiar, right?

Each level has multiple checkpoints in case you die, the last one being just before the boss. The boss fights are in a large room where you must whittle down its health (as measured on a suspiciously familiar-looking health bar) simply by blasting away at it for a while. The key to survival is recognizing its patterns. Bosses will engage in the same few actions (shooting, jumping, charging) over and over, and if you can catch the cues fast enough and no how to evade you should be fine. You know, like Mega Man bosses. There's secrets you can grab, health and power ups that drop from enemies, but ultimately you're just moving forward and beating each level, old school style.

So what's different? First is the burst mechanic, which helps to give the game its name. It's quite simple: if you kill an enemy at point break range, it counts as a burst, and your burst counter goes up by one. Do that to the next enemy, and it goes up again. Kill an enemy at normal range, and the counter goes back to zero. And.. that's it, really. You get bonus points for bursting enemies and setting up combos (which determines your ranking at the end of the level), but if you don't care about your score then it is completely irrelevant. But that's fine! It's something that encourages you to try to play differently, but doesn't really mess with the balance or the fun of the game in any way. And if you do care about a high score, then it becomes an added challenge and an added skill to learn. Perhaps its somewhat dumb to name the game after something so minor, but it doesn't really detract from the experience.

More importantly, though, is that you do NOT get the boss's weapon when you defeat him. Instead, you collect weapon modifiers as you play the game, whether through finding secrets or simply beating levels. You also can increase a stat called CP in the same way as well as random enemy drops. These modifiers allow you to upgrade your weapon (and other abilities) in all sorts of crazy ways, whether it be increasing damage, allowing for spread shots, reflecting bullets off walls, and plenty of others. You can also reduce the damage you take or the pushback you receive when hit as well. This really ends up being the meat of the game, as you get to choose how challenging you want to make the game and how crazy you want your weapons to get. Will you be conservative, and just put all your points into making your weapon and defense stronger? Or will you have some fun and create some scattershots or ricochets? Or will you give yourself a challenge and make your weapon even worse? The best part is, there's no "right" way to play it. You can set up a dozen different combinations if you want and quickly cycle through them at the press of a shoulder button to always have exactly the right weapon for the job if you want. Of course, if you think that's tedious, you can just tinker with one set. Get as in-depth as you want into figuring out your gear, or just grab a few quick upgrades and call it a day. After all, if you find yourself not having fun with the system, just ignore it. The game's easy enough anyway.

Yes, easy, the pretty little tangle with modern action platformers. Back in the day, games would kill you often and make you restart the level (or game) if you ran out of lives. But this "life" system has fallen out of favor, and so now you can just restart at the nearest checkpoint as often as you want. This means that taking damage from normal enemies is all but irrelevant; you can certainly make it to the next checkpoint at least. So save all your health recovery items for the boss. And even there, if you use them and die, they will return to you when you restart. So you never have the fear of the game becoming unwinnable and needing to reset like in Mega Man, you just keep chugging along no matter how often you die. To partially compensate for this, there are plenty of challenging platforming areas with instadeath traps, including some innovative little twists on typical Mega Man fare. For example, instead of the standard disappearing and reappearing blocks, there's two sets of extra platforms that will appear and disappear based on the color of the background. Or the traditional rising and falling water now has splotches of burning oil on top of it. So you do have some tough platforming sections, and you will die a lot. You just won't be set back very far. Likewise, bosses have a lot of health, and there's no cheap way to knock them out in four hits with the right weapon like in Mega Man. So you may have to fight them a couple times, but you'll get the hang of it easily enough. You'll make it to the end with relatively little frustration.

But that's life these days. And again, that's why the key to this game is how much you put into it. Do you just want to play once and see the end? Then it's really nothing special. Do you want to run through once for each of the two characters? Still not all that special. Do you want to go for a no death run? Or a speedrun? Do you feel like picking the game up and just playing today because you haven't in a while? Do you want to aim to get that elusive "S" rank? Levels are less than 5 minutes apiece once you know what you're doing. And again, this game plays as smoothly as Mega Man, quite possibly the best of the old action platformers. The whole point of the genre is being able to jump in and out in quick bursts and as often as you want. Keep one save file with an absurdly high CP so you can make as crazy a weapon as you want, but don't be afraid to just start a new file and bang through the game in an hour or so. There aren't too many of those types of games nowadays, so the fact that MGB happens to be a good one is a relief. Inticreates seems to understand the need to keep the old elements of the core gameplay in tact while acknowledging the needs of modern games. I mean, there's still saves and extras and near-instant revival that we've come to expect. But at its core, it's still the same basic Mega Man-esque game. You shoot, you jump.

As long as you understand what this game is, it's great fun. No, it's not the most inventive game in the world. It doesn't promise too much, nor stay too long, but it gives you exactly what it promises. A Mega Man experience. If you're looking for a retro-inspired action platforming game, this one will perfectly tide you over until Mega Man 11 is released. And at only $10, it's well priced for a game of its style.


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Community review by mariner (January 03, 2018)

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