Lightning strikes twice.
When Capcom stopped making 2D Megaman games for whatever arbitrary reason, it left an indelible hole in my gaming desires. Even though I tried to fill that gap with a myriad of different games, it wasn’t until Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 that I finally felt content, having played an excellent 2D platformer worthy to be called Megaman’s unofficial spiritual successor.
So, when I was told that the Switch would be getting an updated version of the Striker Pack which includes both of the games as well as all the DLC along with some new features/content, I had to check it out.
Platform: Switch, 3DS
Voice Acting: JPN only but other language subtitles are available
Length: 12~ hours to finish the story mode for both games, more than double to 100%
Given that I’ve completed both of the Azure Striker Gunvolt games and have reviewed the second title here, I’ll simply defer to that opinion as the games remain largely unchanged. You can read the review here.
For those simply too lazy to read that, the Gunvolt games are 2D platformers focusing on action. While the first game is solid, it is rough around the edges in some parts and has the player in control of Gunvolt throughout the whole game. The sequel is the true fulfillment of the concept, adding Gunvolt’s rival Copen as a player character who plays radically different, leaving Gunvolt in the dust with incredibly fast and flexible movement options that are an absolute joy to master. It features improved level designs, boss battles, music and more, as it stands as exactly what a sequel should be.
As for the improvement for the Switch version, the 30 FPS lock from the 3DS version has been bumped up to 60, and the various event artwork including character portraits and fonts have been remastered in HD. Unfortunately, during the gameplay, the game looked mostly the same, and some elements like the title screen didn’t look touched up in the slightest, feeling out of place with the rest of the visual presentation. Fortunately, the port took advantage of the Switch hardware with the support of HD Rumble as well as the use of the Pro Controller which I used during my playthrough and to my delight, it worked perfectly well and was a great improvement from the 3DS control scheme.
The UI has been reworked given that there is now only one screen to work with, but as I was had all the information I needed readily available at all times, I didn’t miss the second screen at all, and the use of special moves was relegated to the second analog stick which worked well, even in the heat of battle.
The most significant addition was the inclusion of all the DLC that I missed on the 3DS for the games with new stages, bosses, modes as well as brand new songs- one of which debuted exclusively for the Switch version.
However, despite these additions, $40 felt like a bit too much to ask given that the 3DS versions of the game came out some time ago at this point and retailed at a lower price. Also, taking into consideration that other quality Switch games like Golf Story and Stardew Valley are retailing for $15, the $40 price tag seems unjustified as another case of the dreaded “Switch Tax”.
Lastly, due to Switch’s lack of a microphone, one particularly memorable section near the end of the second game was entirely removed. Even though I understand the move due to hardware limitations, it was such a clever and fun moment that I feel it a shame that many people who will only play the Switch version will never know what they’re missing out on. If you’re curious what I’m talking about, feel free to YouTube a playthrough of the true ending final boss of Gunvolt 2 after completing the game and you’ll see what I mean.
Even with the inflated price tag, Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack features two highly underrated games well worth playing which many have missed. While it might be a bit a tough sell to those who have completed both games on the 3DS, to newcomers, it’s a golden opportunity to check out the series which I’ve dubbed the unofficial spiritual successor of Megaman.
Fun Tidbit – The games are bit lacking in challenge but it’s fun to try and always get a high amount of “Kudos” which are like point modifiers in the games and finish every optional quests, which include some interesting challenges that reward some neat upgrades!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.