Might Number Who?
The developers at “Inti Creates” first appeared on my radar when they released “Mega Man Zero” which was a great spiritual successor to the Mega Man X series.
Since then, I’ve been following their various releases to their latest title, “Mighty No.9”.
While I certainly don’t think M#9 is the crime against humanity that many people claim it to be, I found it quite disappointing – devoid of charm and lacking that flow of gameplay Mega Man games are known for.
Still, I had faith in the talents of “Inti Creates”, and decided to check out Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, having enjoyed the original a year ago.
Luckily, it seems my faith was well founded, as Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is easily the best 2D platformer I’ve played in recent memory.
The story kicks off only a short while after the events of the original’s true ending, where the remnant of the revolution that sought to change the world are after the Muse along with Copen’s sister, who has a mysterious power.
After the introductory stage, the player is tasked with choosing between Gunvolt and Copen, who function very differently in combat.
Copen is a bit closer to the classic Mega Man, where he gains EX powers that he can switch on the fly as he defeats bosses, and his range of movement is quite exceptional from the beginning.
Copen has access to a dash that allows him to travel in multiple directions even in the air, and when he makes contact with the enemy, he locks on to them allowing for a barrage of homing beams that inflict some serious damage.
He also has access to his own version of Prevasion, which lets him avoid being damaged if certain conditions are met. The one downside of Copen is that he only has access to two super moves, one being a screen wide damage, and the other a heal.
Gunvolt controls much like he did in ASG1 as he tags enemies with his bullets and unleashes a storm of electricity to make short work of them.
Each of the characters can be leveled up to increase their base stats and equipped with crafted items, which can add new abilities like an air dash or modify existing moves with improved potency.
Even though some of the stages Cope and Gunvolt visit are the same, the majority of the stages are unique to the character, and built from the ground-up with their move set in mind.
As much as I enjoyed playing as Gunvolt again, Copen stole the show this time around with his high mobility and a diverse set of flashy EX moves.
As each stage is completed, challenges are unlocked that reward rare material used for crafting, and this time, they don’t have to be accepted to be accounted for, which is a nice quality of life change.
The game was also fully voiced in Japanese unlike the original, and it helps add yet another layer of personality to this colorful cast of characters.
Perhaps it was due to my rather long history with 2D platformers, having beaten almost every Mega Man game ever released, but I found ASG2 to be rather lacking in challenge in its default difficulty.
Lastly, there are some Amiibo DLCs, including a cameo by Shovel Knight, but as I have an active distaste for anything Amiibo related, I’ll just have to deal with the fact that I’ll never get to fight Shovel Knight, which makes me a little sad.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is everything a sequel should be. It builds on the strengths of the original with its stylish visuals, tight controls and a fluid combat engine that reminds me of how I felt when I was playing some of my favorite 2D platformers in the past. If not for the low degree of challenge and obnoxious Amiibo addition, it could’ve been a perfect game.
Fun Tidbit – My personal favorite 2D sidescroller of all time (not counting Mario games) is Megaman X which I’ve beaten at least 50 times by now.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.