Keiji Inafune's new 3DS side-scroller
At BitSummit today, Inti Creates and Keiji Inafune announced a brand new side-scrolling adventure called Azure Striker: Gunvolt. It's coming this summer to the 3DS via Nintendo's eShop.
Listen up, Mega Man fans: Keiji Inafune is the Executive Producer, and Yoshihisa Tsuda (Mega Man X2, Mega Man 7, 9, 10, and more) is the Game Director. Yoshitaka Hatakeyama (Mega Man 9) is on art, while Takuya Aizu (several Mega Man games, as well as Mighty No. 9) acts as Producer. Finally, Ippo Yamada is over music and sound effects.
Naturally, we ran over to see it immediately.
In the near future, a new psychic power has emerged, and a group called the Sumeragi have emerged to make sense of these powers, taking to supervising those that possess it. But it turns out that they're actually running a concentration camp, and are holding experiments on those held captive in it.
A group called Feather has risen up against them, and our hero, Gunvolt, is given his first order to carry out.
Inti Creates calls this a high speed, high action 2D side-scrolling action adventure game. I call it my next obsession. I couldn't stop playing. I felt bad hogging the only 3DS kit at BitSummit that the game was on, but didn't feel as bad after hearing that the guy before me had played it five times already.
Gunvolt is a 14-year-old boy that can control lightning. This power works as a secondary weapon and a power-up, as it allows him to wear down the enemy slowly with its power, or it can tag up to three enemies to focus his primary gunfire (which is continuous with the button held) from his Conductor Gun onto. It's like a sweep to set up to three auto targeting points. For quick kills, a single enemy can be tagged three times with lightning to turn up the damage.
Aside from attacks, this charge can also disarm enemies, release traps, unlock doors, and much more. When not in use as a lock-on trigger, the stored charge can be used as a shield against enemy attacks.
The lightning power has a gauge that depletes during use, and will recharge when dormant. Successful gameplay involves keeping this power in check, using it when you need to to turn up attacks against enemies, but also setting enough aside to take care of other matters. Skilled players will use it to turn up the heat, while novice players might forego using the power to keep defenses up.
Lightning also plays a role in platforming. Aside from the previously mentioned unlocking ability, it also allows Gunvolt to levitate. And floating while shooting is just as cool as it sounds.
This might sound like a lot to juggle for one ability, but it comes together beautifully. Getting the hang of lock-ons, shielding, and levitation can have your score flying high. It took me a second play of one of the demo levels to get there, but when I did, it felt good. It felt really good.
Gunvolt's gameplay has some solid Mega Man roots, as you might imagine from the development team lineup. There's dashing and jumping and... well, dash jumping. Jump shots were the name of the game in the stages I played. There's everything you'd hope for in this kind of game: wall jumping, crazy platforming, and plenty of ultra-challenging, asshole-ish enemy placement. The level designs in the two demo stages I tried had me grinning -- brilliant layouts around every corner Any Mega Man fan would be pleased.
I really enjoyed a forest stage where I had to use lightning charges to force tree branch obstacles away to clear the way for platforming. Swarms of insects would create a cloud that wiped across the screen, forcing Gunvolt to use his lightning shield as a defense. The end of the stage brought me to a multi-tiered flower boss battle where I had to dodge slow floating pollen orbs while wall jumping to make sure I could hit it enough times to have it opening up. Once open, I mashed a touchscreen button to use a saved special attack, sending a barrage of chains across the screen to kill it off. Even the producer was impressed with my battle!
I was impressed by Gunvolt's visuals. Inti Creates has the 3DS singing with crisp, beautifully animated visuals. This is console- quality stuff on the 3DS. And I know you won't believe me, but the 3D looks outstanding -- easily the best I've ever seen on the system.
Again, I had to apologize a couple of times for hogging the only system here at BitSummit to play Azure Striker: Gunvolt. I grew so attached to it in 20 minutes that I threatened to run off with the system. They laughed. I wasn't joking.
Inti Creates has given us a wonderful game to hold us over until Mighty No. 9 comes out. But Azure Striker Gunvolt is so good that it's really its own main event. This isn't some appetizer.
From what I've seen, this game looks done and ready to go. But it's not. unfortunately. Inti Creates told Destructoid that only three stages are done so far, and that they're currently working with Nintendo to get the game finished quickly for both Japan and North America. Our friends in Europe might have a bit longer of a wait, though.
Azure Striker: Gunvolt is scheduled for release this summer.