Second verse, notably different from the first.
Between Azure Striker Gunvolt, Mighty No. 9, and 20XX, there are no shortage of titles competing to take the run, gun, action-platforming throne that Capcom's Mega Man has since abandoned. While the original Azure Striker Gunvolt was a fun romp and a nice attempt from developer Inti Creates at creating a successor to Mega Man, their second go at things, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is in a league of its own.
One of the big draws of Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is the ability to play as not just one but two characters. After proceeding through the opening stages, you have the choice of choosing to play the campaign as either Gunvolt or his rival from the original game as well as this one, the Adept-hating-and-hunting human Copen. The levels you play as each character are almost totally unique from one another, and each also has their own plot, select-able order of boss stages to play and beat, experience levels to earn, skills to use, and their own set of challenges.
As a side note, challenges are much more desirable this time around. One major reason is that you aren't forced to choose a challenge to attempt, and you're not limited to picking just three at a time. Rather, after you beat a level, you can attempt as many challenges at once as you like, making for a much faster means of finishing off challenges and earning rewards such as materials to make new equip-able items and money. The percentage of challenges completed for each character also affects what ending you get. Challenges range from getting a certain rank on a level through proficient play to level-specific goals such as beating a mid-boss in a specific time frame or breaking all of the windows in the cathedral stage as Gunvolt.
Back to Gunvolt and Copen, these two protagonists aren't just two sides of a different campaign. They thankfully also play incredibly differently from one another. Gunvolt uses his bullets to tag enemies, and instead of those being the main means to eliminate enemies like in a game like Mega Man, when Gunvolt pulls up an electrified Flashfield around him, all tagged enemies take damage. Of course, you can't just spam the Flashfield all you want. It takes up energy, and if you use it too much, Gunvolt overheats, making his susceptible to enemy attacks. Energy can be restored either over time, or through double tapping the down direction on the D-Pad.
|The more you tag a foe, the greater the damage to that enemy from GV's Flashfield.|
|With Copen, you dash into a foe (no, not like Mighty No. 9), and then unleash your furor onto them.|
|Defeat a boss as Copen to earn his or her specialty weapon. Hmm. That sounds a bit familiar.|
The actual levels are more intricately designed compared to the original game. There is a wide array of horizontal sections as well as verticality to consider. Levels meander all over the place, and exploration isn't just some frivolous option this time around either. This time it's encouraged not just by getting medals for bonus opportunities after the completion of a level, but certain challenges ask of you to find all five medals in a given level. Some of these are hidden really well, forcing you to leave no stone un-turned, or in this case, area unexplored.
|One of Copen's exclusive levels, this highway, is one of my favorites in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2.|
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2's individual campaigns are a tad shorter than Gunvolt's campaign in the original game. However, playing both campaigns together, leveling up each character, and finishing off a majority of the challenges for both characters adds a greater duration of play time overall. You can beat campaigns fully in less than ten hours, but there is a lot of replay value that comes afterward in boss rushes, secret levels, and leaderboards.
Like Azure Striker Gunvolt, the game's sequel possesses a gorgeous 2D art style that looks absolutely beautiful. The spritework is immensely detailed and well done, and the backgrounds are pure eye candy. Effects like explosions and such are also quite engaging to the eye. That said, the UI does have some issues, particularly with the dialogue. Text boxes take up a significant portion of the screen's real estate, sometimes even covering up dangers like enemies and bosses (it covers a portion of the left side of the screen as well as the bottom, albeit transparent). I never died because a text box was in the way, but it is something to consider while playing. Upon repeated play-throughs of levels, there is a nice quality of life implementation where you can completely turn off conversations, meaning you'll seldom be stopped for scenes containing dialogue. This makes replays of levels much less taxing than they were in the original Azure Striker Gunvolt.
|If you don't care for anime melodrama, you might want to just skip through story sequences like these.|
[SPC Says: A]