Posted by Yaw Amanquah @yawoada
freelance game designer | |
Yaw Amanquah

If you're a Mega Man fan like me I think we can all agree that it has been a rough couple of years. Mega Man Universe, Maverick Hunter, Mega Man Legends 3, and Rockman Online were all canceled with no chance of a revival in sight. Since then, Mega Man Zero developer Inti Creates has developed the Mega Man X inspired Azure Striker Gunvolt.

However, instead of being a retread of Mega Man like Mighty No. 9, Azure Striker Gunvolt does many things that make it better than some of the games it takes its inspiration from. Anyway, since Azure Striker Gunvolt is getting a sequel this summer I thought it was finally time to take a look at this Mega Man inspired series.

Designed Around Shooting

Mega Man X4 is my favorite game in the Mega Man X series mostly because of the inclusion of Zero as a playable character. I've always believed that Zero's melee combat was better suited for a game that is designed around constant movement than Mega Man X's long-range combat. Mega Man X's inability to defeat enemies quickly without a fully charged buster shot always slowed down the pace of the action.

However, in Azure Striker Gunvolt instead of killing enemies with your gun, the gun instead tags enemies that can then be shocked by Gunvolt's electricity. The tagging system makes the combat less about constant movement and more about targeting as many enemies as you can before attacking like a shmup.

A Versatile Mechanic

One thing that always impresses me about a game's design is when the developer is able to create many different uses for one mechanic. The Mega Man X games have always had abilities that are useful outside of battle but the Flashfield in Azure Striker Gunvolt is more useful than any of those. The Flashfield is a field of electricity that forms around Gunvolt that can both protect him from some attacks and shock enemies.

The Flashfield also slows the descent of Gunvolt in the air so it can also help with platforming. What makes the Flashfield even better is specifically how each level is designed around its use. From pitch black laboratories that can be lit with the Flashfield to magnetic blocks that can be pulled and pushed with the Flashfield.

The Boss Battles

I consider the boss battles in Azure Striker Gunvolt to be more effective than the boss battles in the Mega Man X series for a few reasons. For one, you cannot breeze through the boss battles by using the boss's weakness to stunlock them into the same attack pattern. Also each boss has a special attack that they can use when their health is low which makes the battles get progressively more difficult.

Most noteworthy, are the boss battles that are cleverly designed around the use of Gunvolt's Flashfield. For example in a battle against Gunvolt's rival Copen, Copen has a gun that shoots bullets that disable Gunvolt's abilities for some time which makes the battle very difficult. I would like to talk about more of the boss battles but that would go into spoiler territory and I want everyone to experience them with fresh eyes.