As the first mainline game in the series to not debut on 3DS, Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 packs its high-octane fun into just one screen.
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Kirin slices and dices
Besides not debuting on 3DS, the biggest change with Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 is that you play as Kirin who controls like a ninja. If I had to make a comparison then I'd say if Gunvolt is the Mega Man of this series then Kirin is the Zero. Right away, I changed the controls to match what I'm used to when I play Mega Man X games with the right face button being dash and the left set to slash. One of the main gameplay elements is that Kirin can throw talismans to mark enemies and certain obstacles which lets her instantly warp-slash into them by the tap of a button. You not only use this for combat but also platforming as you can continuously launch yourself from enemies and grapple points which is incredibly satisfying and lightning-fast. Plus, doing so while beating your previous completion times is a blast. 😊 v1d30chumz 44-212-99-248
Before moving on, I'd like to explain that just like Zero, Kirin learns new moves from each boss that she defeats. However, there is no menu that displays these when you pause the game. The only place where you can review her learned moves is in the How to Play menu which is only available at the stage select screen so you basically have to memorize everything which is definitely a bummer.
Gunvolt barks and wags
Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 has a pretty ridiculous story where Gunvolt is now a dog. However, you can summon his usual form whenever you're in a pickle. He can infinitely jump, has a super-powerful attack once you mark enemies, and an even more devastating Special Skill. In fact, he's so ludicrously powerful that it feels like cheating whenever you swap to him. Sure, you only get a limited amount of time to use him but it's still quite lengthy and the cooldown period doesn't last that long either. In the end, I wish that playing as Gunvolt presented some sort of challenge because as it is, he's far too overpowered which actually detracts from the fun to be had. 🐶
Sights and sounds
As usual, Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 looks and sounds superb. The gorgeous artwork, smoothly animated character sprites, detailed environments, and flashy attack effects really pop and make the action-packed gameplay even more enjoyable. Thankfully, the Story Mode+ dialogue that obscures part of the screen can be disabled and the fact that there's an English voice cast means that you don't have to read it which is a nice bonus. Speaking of which, the voice acting is excellent whether you're listening to story exposition or the exchange of witty lines with a boss. At the same time, you'll often hear Lumen sing an upbeat song which complements the gratifying effects of slashing through your enemies. It all comes together to make one frantic presentation that's hard to put down.
Stages and bosses
As I touched upon, soaring through Azure Striker Gunvolt 3's stages at breakneck speeds as you fling talismans and Arc Chain yourself perpetually forward is a ton of fun. Meanwhile, the stages themselves don't have many stand-out features that will make you fondly think back on them. Sure, there are some barriers, moving platforms, and clever traps but for the most part, you'll just be zipping along faster than Sonic the Hedgehog after he has his daily espresso. On the plus side, the bosses are a great deal of fun complete with many unique attacks, memorable personalities, and multiple phases. In fact, I think they're the best Gunvolt bosses yet. 😄
Ranks and Image Pulses
Merely playing through Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 doesn't pose much of a challenge but getting S or even S++ ranks on the levels is challenging and can be exhilarating to try and achieve. Also, each stage features a handful of collectibles and upon finding certain thresholds of them, you'll unlock Image Pulses that are essentially Gunvolt's memories of various characters. The good news is that there are a ton of them and you can equip them to provide passive boosts or active skills that you can unleash by moving the right stick in 4 directions. It's involving and rewarding to experiment with different loadouts as you level-up to increase the amount of Abilities slots and spend earned coins to enhance certain Image Pulses. Heck, you can even change the tunes that Lumen sings. 🎵
Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 is yet another great entry in Inti Creates' library of top-notch retro-inspired 2D action games. So, if you enjoy old-school gaming with a modern sense of style and lightning-fast gameplay then definitely give it a go.
- + Kirin is an awesome new character with a super-satisfying move set
- + It's fun unlocking upgrades and higher ranks
- + Fantastic visuals, audio, and ridiculous story
- - Most stages don't feature many stand-out or memorable segments
- - Gunvolt is a bit too overpowered
- - Could use a move list in the pause menu