Gunvolt has done a fantastic job as of late replacing the big ol’ Blue Bomber shaped hole in my heart, the previous title Luminous Avenger 2 was a fantastic spin-off but now it’s time for the Azure Striker to step up once again.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 is sent many years after the events of the 2nd title and features new protagonist Kirin who through the games introduction frees Gunvolt from imprisonment as he’s contained in the body of a dragon, as a result of this ritual Gunvolt now has the body of a Dog and yes the story has taken an even more confusing turn than usual!.
The writing and character development in Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 is fantastic, weird scenario aside when you finally assemble the full cast and the main antagonist comes into play the writing is some of the finest produced by IntiCreates, the relationship between Kirin and Gunvolt is adorable and kept me hooked nearly as much as the main narrative did!.
Visually Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 is on par with Luminous Avenger 2 which beautifully blended HD art with sprite work in an aesthetically pleasing manner, again it’s a little jarring at first but it fits the tone well and the lighting and other effects really bring the game to life and matches what your nostalgic memory has convinced you Megaman X and Megaman Zero looked like!.
Character designs are tongue in cheek anime and the boss designs are some of the best the series has seen to the point. A massive shout out to the level design and themes which have created the most consistent and fun levels the franchise has ever seen.
Music is outstanding as expected including yet another newly written iDol song for the series which plays when your combo is high and you haven’t taken any damage. Much like Luminous Avenger 2 the game has a full English Dub which makes it a lot easier to turn off the text and be able to hear what’s going on in the game as the characters are quite chatty throughout!.
The gameplay in Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 is that tasty cocktail of fresh and similar, while it has all the hallmarks of the Gunvolt series, Kirin and even Gunvolt feel so different to play that it has an adjustment period before you fall back into the familiar swing of speedrunning through the levels so fast that even Sonic would tell you to calm down.
Kirin in a melee focused character, she has a projectile but it’s a talisman which if you throw a few at the same enemy it stacks damage, aside from that she has a handy slash attack, she can also dash slash any enemies she’s thrown a Talisman onto which is great for dodging and getting to those hard to reach places.
Gunvolt is summonable and returns in his humanoid form though is tied to a meter and only stays playable for a little while, he plays exactly as you remember him only a little souped up in terms of damage out point and the ability to jump continuously in midair.
Special attacks work in the same way they always have and are usually quite damaging screen clearers, you can also summon other characters attacks by flicking the right analogue stick in their direction, these vary from character to character and you unlock these from the end of level score screens in a Gatcha style unlock scheme.
In terms of general gameplay its business as usual, Prologue stage, 4 choose your stages, mid game stage, another 4 choose and then the final stages which are boss rush central, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel but the formula works so well why would we want it to?.
The main additions in Gunvolt 3 is how it plays and frankly it’s my favourite in the series for how well it controls, Kirin is a joy to play and I never expected that when I discovered I wouldn’t be the Blue Bolt!. The level design is some of the best of the series and is easily on par with the better works in the MegaMan Zero series and the boss fights are all brilliantly done, there are even some cool surprises towards the end and 2 endings to unlock.
There is alot to love in Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 and it’s easy to see where the team took from the Luminous Avenger titles and helped this title be the best Gunvolt adventure yet, it’s not the longest game around but it is an undeniably fantastic experience all the same.
Starts with a bang and ends with an explosion.
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