Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack for the Nintendo Switch is the latest release in the Azure Striker Gunvolt series, containing a combo of both the original Azure Striker Gunvolt and its sequel. Azure Striker Gunvolt was developed by Inti Creates, the same development studio that worked on the Mega Man Zero series for the Nintendo Advance, and that experience shows while playing. Both games were released earlier for the Nintendo 3DS, as well as a PC release of the original back in 2015. The Striker Pack for switch, however, comes with an HD remastered version of both games, as well as additional features not present in the original games to add replayability to each.
Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack
The story starts out with the main character, Gunvolt, chasing after an enemy super weapon that is designed to control the game’s version of meta-humans, called Adepts, into doing the owner’s bidding. Gunvolt, nicknamed GV by his friends, finds that the weapon is an adept being held against her will to be used as a weapon. GV makes the decision to abandon his mission to destroy the weapon, saving the girl in the process. Along the way, he gains a rival named Copen, a human who uses technology to mimic Adept’s Septima. Copen then becomes a playable character in the second game, with each character having a separate storyline leading to the same conclusion in the end.
Gameplay will be familiar to those who have played other action-platformers. Each stage will consist of the player progressing through the levels with run-and-gun play, while gaining new weapons and abilities during play. GV’s play differs from normal in that his gun is not his main source of damage. He uses his gun to tag enemies, which he is then able to zap with an electric forcefield he generates around himself. Copen will dash into enemies to tag them, and then use both his gun and his robot friend to deal damage to his enemies. These systems make combat a joy throughout the entire game. The flow of dodging attacks while tagging enemies to deal damage while staying in safety keeps you constantly active and working to keep yourself alive.
The games also have a rudimentary crafting system in place, where you can receive items during gameplay from end of mission rewards or completing extra challenge quests in levels. These items will allow you to adjust the character’s abilities to your playstyle, adding abilities such as a double jump, reduced damage, etc. Skills, on the other hand, are gained from killing enemies and leveling up. Both items and skills can be changed in-between levels to better prepare for the dangers ahead.
The first game does not have a very well-done tutorial, leading to a bit of button mashing to figure out what you should be doing and how combat works. The second game has an improved tutorial for GV, with a more direct set of instructions given on how to play him. Copen, however, suffers the same fate as GV does in the first with a very minimal tutorial leaving you wondering how to play and just figuring out how things work.
The Striker Pack adds 2 additional difficulties to the original game, easy and hard. Easy mode increases your damage done, helps you evade more attacks and removes drowning. Hard mode greatly reduces your HP, removes auto-evasion (called prevasion in game), removes item crafting, and makes touching spikes instant death. Both difficulties have to explicitly be selected in a separate menu, with the default difficulty being the same as the 3DS version.
Gunvolt 2 does not let you change the difficulty like the first does, but does have extras that are unlocked after clearing the game’s story mode. After clearing the game completely, you unlock both a speed run mode and a score attack mode, both letting you replay levels with special conditions on each level.
The port does have a few noticeable areas where text does not line up correctly or cuts off the screen, such as selecting a difficulty in the first game. Title screens and ending credits sequences for both are still in low resolution 240p, though these do not affect gameplay in any way.
One major issue that popped up time and time again was the placement of chat windows during the game. The chat would cover up a portion of the bottom of the screen, where the player is platforming at a majority of the time, potentially hiding death pits or monsters ready to kill you. This becomes especially apparent in a few boss fights where mechanics can be hidden behind the character’s face shot. Dialog can be disabled during the game, which was required in a few areas.
Both games run smoothly on the switch, both docked and handheld. While the pro controller made the game much easier to play due to the presence of a real D-pad, controls are tight and you always feel completely in control of the character. After you get comfortable with the controls and weapons, you can begin blazing quickly through levels and never feel like you are not completely in control of your character. There is no stuttering or lagging in either mode, even when the screen gets overloaded with action.
Overall, Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack is a great port of a great game. While there are some minor port issues, overall the added features and improved resolution help make this the best version of the game yet, and a must-buy for the Nintendo Switch. It takes the tried-and-true gameplay that Mega Man X fans are looking for, and adds enough variance to make it a fresh experience while the improved experience and added features will give you as much challenge as you want.
AZURE STRIKER GUNVOLT: STRIKER PACK – 9/10
- Great level design
- Non-stop action
- Added features for improved replayability
- Poor tutorials leading to early game confusion
- Dialog difficult to listen to while playing