Two years after the original, we finally have a sequel to one of the best 2D action games on 3DS. Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is a much bigger game than the first with a new playable character so let's see how GV's latest adventure holds up.
Azure Striker Gunvolt is a direct sequel in that the story picks up where the first one left off. This time around, Gunvolt and gang face a new threat known as "Eden". This group consists of powerful Adepts so obviously Copen (the scientist from the first game who hates Adepts) ventures forth to defeat them. As an Adept, Gunvolt also decides to put an end to their terror. The conflicting nature of the two heroes is quite palpable although they reluctantly share the same goal. It's a very cool premise for the story and it makes playing through as your character of choice even more engrossing.
Considering it's made by the same team, the Azure Striker Gunvolt series looks a lot like Mega Man Zero. The pixel-perfect 2D sprites, lovely character artwork, and detailed environments are familiar yet as gorgeous as ever. The music is fantastic with tunes that always suit your current situation. There are also many songs that feature Japanese vocals which I found to be simply outstanding. Speaking of Japanese voices, there's a lot of talking in this adventure. The constant dialogue provides a lot of personality and it's performed by a talented cast of actors who range from serious to downright goofy. In the end, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 looks and sounds just perfect for a 2D action game.
The gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played the first title. GV shoots enemies which tags them then uses his Flashfield to send electric currents their way and hopefully end their existence. He's a rather agile fellow, too, with the ability to dash, wall jump, recharge his EP gauge on the fly, and unleash equipped skills whenever certain conditions are satisfied. One of his coolest features is that he can utilize Prevasion in order to absorb damage while he's not attacking. Copen plays much differently as he dashes into enemies to target them, has an array of EX weapons, a handy Flashshield, and can Bullit Dash in mid-air at various angles. Acquiring a range of different Bolts for GV and new EX weapons for Copen then experimenting with their capabilities is a very satisfying endeavor. Overall, these awesome abilities make the 2D action incredibly enjoyable no matter which character you play as.
You'd think that the two playable heroes each have to work through the same campaign. However, you'll be surprised to learn that each one has an entirely different campaign complete with unique stages, bosses, and their own hub and menu system. Even after finishing it, I still can't believe how much content they packed into this experience. GV can synthesize equipment that enhances certain aspects of his performance while Copen wears a nifty jacket named "The White Tiger" that he can program with subroutines to assist him in battle. As you progress, you'll complete a list of challenges that awards you with bonuses as you check them off. The heroes level up as you defeat enemies which is another RPG element that makes gameplay even more addictive.
The stages themselves are quite diverse. You'll come across factories full of conveyor belts, slippery ice-covered rooms, and the odd battle arena where you have to take out all of the enemies. My favourite stage is full of glitches where you can warp between the edges of the screen. As you play through that stage, the extremely nerdy boss taunts you and it's just hilarious. Working your way to a hidden corridor only to find nothing then hear the boss laugh at you will make any gamer crack a smile. Upon completing every single stage, you'll unlock Runner Mode that features online rankings. There's so much to enjoy that it'll keep you busy for hours.
All of the negative things I have to say about Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 are very minor, but here I go! While playing as GV, you'll frequently come across out-of-reach foes that can be very frustrating to deal with. Sure, you can go through the menu and equip a Bolt that'll reach them, but that's assuming you already have a varied supply of them. Before you do, you may have to take a few hits against your will. You'll also face the same bosses two or three times each throughout the journey and I found them to get rather tedious after I memorized their patterns. Finally, the dialogue overlays occasionally get in the way of the action but you do have the option to turn them off if you want. See? I told you these complaints were minor. So, let's finish up this review.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is not only a must-buy game for existing fans, anyone who finds 2D action games appealing should definitely pick it up. When it comes to sequels, this really goes the extra mile.
- + Incredible 2D action gameplay with an impressive arsenal of awesome abilities
- + Two cool heroes with unique campaigns
- + Great visuals, audio, and stage design
- - Hard-to-reach enemies are a frequent annoyance while playing as GV
- - Repeated boss battles feel tedious
- - Text occasionally obscures the action