There are plenty of action-platformers already in the Switch’s early library. However, none have really scratched the itch I’ve been having for some classic Mega Man action. Growing up, I would always be anticipating a new Mega Man release. I would head down to the local video rental store, pick up Mega Man 4 for example, and head home and blast my way through all the stages. I have a soft spot in my heart for the intense action that a Mega Man inspired game can bring, and thankfully Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack is bringing all those warm feelings back. The games are developed by Inti Creates, who made the Mega Man ZX games for the DS, so they definitely know what to do with the Mega Man formula.
I’m not sure how I missed these two games when they were first released on the 3DS. In the first Azure Striker Gunvolt, you played as Gunvolt, or GV to his friends. In the second, they added Gunvolt’s rival, Copen, to the mix and you select either of them and go through their versions of the story. You work your way through a number of different levels, in whichever order you prefer, and as you make your way to the end, you take on a boss. Defeat the boss, and you get some fancy new powers, useful for taking on the next boss usually. What is different is Gunvolt’s main source of dealing damage. His gun actually doesn’t do a lot of damage, but it can be used to tag an enemy, up to three times, or three different enemies, or two tags and one. You get the idea. After an enemy is tagged, you use Gunvolt’s electric forcefield to zap them with electricity. Additionally, when you are using the force field, it slows his movements down, which aids in maneuvering through some tricky enemy attacks.
This pairing of gun tagging, and force field zapping works wonderfully, and when combined with the hovering ability, or other abilities you unlock, you begin to feel pretty powerful pretty quickly. The games have been remastered, and part of that includes being upped to 60 frames per second, which definitely shows as you are zipping and zapping all over the screen. The game also has a system that allows you to convert items and materials that you find throughout the levels into power ups, and this also aids in Gunvolt’s ability to take on the next menacing, and sometimes crazy, bosses.
There is actually also a pretty decent backstory to the game; Gunvolt and his friends are trying to stop a super weapon that is going to be used to control adepts, or the game’s version of super-humans. The story plays out through numerous cutscenes before, after and sometimes during missions. Part of the remaster involves HD upgrades to all of the static images used for telling the story and throughout the missions, and the art looks superb. I was often caught up in the story partially because of how great the art was and how crisp the images are. However, sometimes when you are fighting bosses, the static headshot and dialogue pop up and can obstruct the game while you are trying to play. You can turn this off in the settings, but it just seemed like odd game design to have game action continue while displaying large text and images on the screen.
As for the actual game and levels, they have additionally been cleaned up and have been remastered, and the backgrounds especially look fantastic. The sprites on the characters are also very vibrant and have great designs; however when playing the game on a large TV, the pixels of the characters just seemed a little jarring, compared to the cleaner backgrounds. It would have been nice to have some cleaner sprites done up, but that’s nit-picking. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because the action is so fast, you are more focused on what you are doing and where you are going than how many pixels Gunvolt is made up of.
Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack also comes with some additional features that really stuck out, such as the ability to change up the difficulty. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but some of the levels can be fairly tough, much like a classic Mega Man game, so it’s nice that there is an adjustable difficulty setting for those perhaps new to the game or genre. The gameplay balances are a nice touch as is the addition of all of the DLC that came out for the games, including more stages and bosses.
The two games included in this package have quickly become my go-to games on the Switch. The style, the action, the controls…everything about this package is phenomenal and I can’t recommend it enough. The Azure Striker Gunvolt games easily carry on the Mega Man tradition, and do so with electrifying flair.
A Nintendo Switch code of Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack was provided by Inti Creates for the purpose of this review.