Review: Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack

Do these 3DS titles still holdup?

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 12/22/2017 07:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great gameplay; gorgeous 2D graphics; good soundtrack; lots of content
Poison Mushroom for...
Uneven difficulty; dialogue can be distracting at times; lack of autosave

Over the last year, Switch has played host to a number of games that originated on Wii U and 3DS. For many developers, Switch has provided an opportunity to get their titles a second glance by a quickly growing audience. Nighthawk Interactive’s Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack does just that, bringing a pair of strong 3DS games to Switch in one sleek package.

Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack contains the first two Azure Striker Gunvolt games in addition to all previously released DLC. For the uninitiated, the games take some influence from the Mega Man franchise. Like Capcom’s classics, players can take their pick between multiple platforming stages, each with a themed end boss, playing them in whichever order they prefer. Protagonist Gunvolt is an “adept,” a being with superhuman abilities. In GV’s case, he can use a blaster to target opponents, and then temporarily unleash waves of electric energy.

Gunvolt isn’t the only adept in the world, however. Both games in the collection pit GV against a handful of different adepts with their own unique abilities. Adepts bear some similarity to mutants from the X-Men franchise: characters like Copen see them all as a threat, while the Sumeragi Group seeks to use them (willingly or unwillingly) for their own nefarious purposes. For both Gunvolt games, developer Inti Creates came up with some truly interesting boss fights. Unfortunately, the difficulty can be a bit uneven. There were times when I found there was some margin of error, but overcoming some adepts required perfection. That said, though some bosses can be a bit unforgiving, there is a great sense of satisfaction to be discovered by learning and adapting to each of their attack patterns. No matter how frustrated I got, I kept coming back, determined to adapt my strategy.

Speaking of boss fights, the Striker Pack also features Amiibo support through the Shovel Knight figure, which unlocks a battle with the knight of shovelry. While the inclusion was originally the result of a collaboration with Yacht Club Games, the team behind the previous physical release for the Azure Striker Gunvolt games, it’s thankfully still included. Shovel Knight is, easily, one of the most difficult boss battles in the package. There really isn’t any incentive for taking him down other than bragging rights, but considering the boss battles are such a big highlight of the game, it’s certainly nice to see.

The second Azure Striker Gunvolt title offers a second playable character, Copen. Copen handles quite a bit differently from Gunvolt, focusing on dash attacks. While not an adept himself, Copen has the ability to steal the powers of adepts he defeats, in another clear homage to Mega Man. Initially, the sequel has players going back-and-forth between the two playable characters, before splitting off the narrative and allowing players to choose their own order. Copen’s role in the second game really helps to give the sequel something that sets it apart from the previous title, giving fans plenty of reason to check out both offerings.

On the sound front, both titles are kind of a mixed bag. The music is strong, but the use of Japanese voice actors can get distracting during stages. While it will likely please purists, a lot of story information is given throughout each level, typically while Gunvolt is in the middle of dealing with enemies. If the voices were in English, it would be easier to multitask, but the use of subtitles often forced me to take my eyes off the action in order to follow the game’s storyline. There is an English option, but it simply turns off spoken dialogue, which didn’t help any with trying to multitask. Considering the fact that the story has a lot of different terms to keep up with (adepts, Sumeragi, septima, etc.), missing dialogue always left me feeling a bit confused. Plus, the game’s characterizations are strong, so it was disheartening when I missed anything. It should be noted that, while the dialogue itself works well, there are some noticeable grammatical errors and typos strewn throughout. There isn’t anything as wince-inducing as the days of 8-bit gaming, but considering these titles have been released many times, one would think the script would have been polished up a little bit.

Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack is a great looking collection. The graphics look crisp in both portable and undocked modes, and I didn’t run into slowdown or any other notable glitches. There have been some alterations made since both games initially had two screens, but, as a newcomer to both titles, the switch to a single screen format never felt glaringly obvious; both games feel like they were made for the Switch hardware. There have even been some nice additions like HD rumble, as well. That said, it would have been nice to see some other updates implemented, particularly an autosave option. The game warns players early on that it does not save automatically but, with the Switch’s quicksave function, the omission wasn’t too much of a hassle and it’s a relatively minor quibble.

For diehards and the uninitiated, it’s hard not to recommend Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack. The compilation features two compelling games, wonderful graphics and all of the previously released DLC all on one cartridge. The games have a couple of warts here and there, and the difficulty level can be demanding at times, but the gameplay will keep you coming back again and again. Fans of old-school, 2D platforming would do well to check this one out.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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