Lately the projects related to the name of Keiji Inafune have received not entirely positive feedback from the specialized press, both in the case of Mighty No. 9 ambitious spiritual heir of the home Blue Bomber Capcom, that with Recore, the action-adventure inspired by the classics of the past born from the collaboration with the former authors of Metroid Prime. Despite the not so lucky period for the Japanese game designer, there is a title that already convinced us with its first release. We are talking about Azure Striker GUNVOLT, which with this sequel tries to reconfirm itself one of the most valid action platforms of recent years. With Inafune back as executive producer, let's find out together if Azure Striker GUNVOLT 2 it managed to maintain the same quality levels as its predecessor.
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Azure Striker Gunvolt
Those who don't die see themselves again
After saving the world from the evil plans of Sumeragi, an unscrupulous multinational that aspired to control of the powers that be Septimali of Adepts (individuals who have developed incredible special abilities), for the poor Gunvolt there seems to be no peace. Indeed, believing that he has defeated Zonda, one of the managers of the events of the previous game (for details on the plot we refer to the review of the first chapter) this will return with a new plan that aims again at the control of the followers with the creation of a utopian world and the extermination of the human race. But this time Gunvolt will not be alone. He can in fact count on the help of the unfriendly Copen, one of the key characters of the events of the previous title, who in this second adventure carves out a role as co-protagonist, with its own storyline parallel to that of the young Gunvolt, which on more than one occasion will cross its path.
If in Azure Striker GUNVOLT often the plot took a back seat, lacking the narrative elements necessary to understand the whole story, here we see the exact opposite. The amount of details and information that will be provided to us will be so much as to confuse the poor player who (hoping he has had the opportunity to play the prequel) will find himself dealing with an overly articulated narrative plot. Added to this is a narrative that takes place in real time during gameplay, whether facing the platform phases or a battle against a boss. The game will not care what you are doing and will continue on its way, making it difficult to understand many of the dialogues, which in an almost invasive way, will occupy part of the screen of Nintendo 3DS. To complicate things, for those who have problems with languages, unlike the first release, the game proposes only an adaptation in English which can make it difficult to read, especially in the active phases of gameplay.
Putting aside this aspect related to history, we find at the base of the game the same formula that had worked so much in the past, mixing action and 2D platforming, elements that belong to an old school of which that Mega Man X he was the standard bearer, and his DNA coursing through the veins of this creature Inti Create.
Gunvolt can rely on a gun capable of "tagging" enemies, which once hooked can be eliminated faster using the Electrosphere, an area electric attack capable of eliminating them in seconds. The upgrade system is also back which allows us to enhance our hero with skills and accessories that can help us in battle. The Skills, which can be equipped up to a maximum of 4, to be activated will need to draw on our reserve of SP, and once used they will take time to recharge. THE Seventh of Gunvolt are divided into 2 types: Special e Normal. The former are extremely powerful limbs usually aimed at attack, the others more supportive, able to provide us with extra energy, speed up the recharge of SPs and so on. Most of the skills can increase in level, and therefore in effectiveness, by gaining experience in the course of our games. The level up of the character guarantees not only the unlocking of new skills, but also an increase in maximum HP.
During the game it will be essential to learn how to use the Prevasion system which allows you to absorb enemy shots preventing damage, and once unloaded, the next damage received will affect the energy bar. To avoid all this, just a double "tap" downwards through the directional cross that will instantly reload the bar.
But as we said Gunvolt will not be the only selectable character, and alongside him we find Copen who not only offers a second plot to the game but also an exclusive gameplay for the character, of which it shares only some basic aspects of the game. Copen contrary to Gunvolt will not be able to tag enemies with the shot, but through a system of "dash", which hitting the opponent will concentrate all the fire on him. Depending on the type of shot, on the ground or in the air, the effectiveness of our attacks will change. Unable to exploit Adept powers, dear Copen can use the Former Weapon, which in a similar way to the skills replicate the special powers of the defeated bosses (similar to what happens in Mega Man). Also in this case there will be a Weapon Gauge that will mark the rhythms of use. Similarly to Gunvolt, Copen can install some Subrutine, upgrades that improve its efficiency in battle. Each new addition will have a cost required to be equipped, a memory formed by slots that during the game can be expanded to accommodate more and more Subrutines. We will then be able to create new ones using the materials obtained at the end of the mission, just as happens with the same Gunvolt.
Eden or Hell
Azure Striker GUNVOLT 2 also proposes a new counter dedicated to the score, which will be calculated based on our actions damaging and killing enemies. Compared to the previous game now, before the mission we will be able to choose one of the 3 styles available. The default one, Caution, will see the counter reset after being hit 3 times, Gutless, which will not make us lose those earned even if hit, however reducing the multiplier, e Fearless, which on the contrary will cause us to lose all Kudos collected but the score multiplier will increase. Both characters will then be able to harness the power ofAwakening, which on rare occasions will allow you to bring the character back to life by awakening dormant powers in him. The probability with which the Awakening will activate depends on how much we interact with the other characters (related to the story) through the chat option in the main menu.
In general Azure Striker GUNVOLT 2 behaves exactly like the prequel, offending a level structure, in which we will have to defeat all the enemies that we will find in our path before arriving at the fateful clash with the boss. Compared to the past, there seems to have been a significant improvement in level design, with the inclusion of more stimulating and challenging situations on the gameplay front, which is further diversified by the two styles of the characters that require different timing and approaches. The same is felt during the boss fight, again the spearhead of the entire production. Inti Create proves once again capable of making these moments unique, forcing the player to reasoned actions and to learn the various attack patterns of the bosses. Again the presence of two usable characters adds another piece to the already rich gameplay, and the need to use two styles so very different from each other can make a boss fight more or less complicated depending on the run performed.
Azure Striker GUNVOLT 2 is also compatible with Nintendo amiibo, in particular with that of Shovel Knight, protagonist of the homonymous game by Yatch Club Games. The collaboration with the American studio (which will deal with the physical release ofAzure Striker GUNVOLT: Striker Pack) materializes in a level in which we will have to face the blue knight and his razor-sharp shovel. To unlock this stage, just start the game, access the amiibo menu and switch the figurine to the console (or the wireless accessory in case of old models).
This also affects how the game structure develops, through a series of stages that can be completed freely, which once completed will give access to a new series of levels. Once the game is completed with one of the two characters we will see the first of the two endings, a sort of bad ending. To complete the story, and thus access the true endings, it will be necessary to complete the last stage again, where we will find a new boss waiting for us.
Among the unlockables, completing the adventure, special missions called Secret Mission must be reported, which will serve to further lengthen the gaming experience (which as for Azure Striker GUNVOLT settles on 7/8 hours) and a new mode designed for speedrunners, where to test our skills as sprinters.
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From a technical point of view, we do not find major changes compared to the past. Also this time we are faced with a title that seems to have escaped from the 16-bit era of the 90s. Graphically well cared for and with excellent animations, especially as regards the bosses, it gives its best thanks to a more studied level design and settings that blend well with the futuristic atmospheres of the game, and dampen that linearity from which the first chapter suffered.
At the music we find again Ippo Yamada which offers us a work in line with the previous one, recovering most of the songs of the first chapter, which are joined by new songs, such as the one for the Awakening in Copen, and it grants a creative flair right on the finish, of which we do not want to spoil the surprise, but will give you a very active role in the adventure.
✓ Copen excellent introduction to the cast
✓ Pleasant to play and with a good challenge rate x The plot overlaps the gameplay making it difficult to understand
x Only in English