Was I the only person who liked, Mighty No. 9? Sure, the game was far from perfect and there is no doubting that Comcept and Keiji Inafune made a complete balls up of its messaging and rollout, but if judged without the weight of expectation or the undue emphasis on the calamity that often surrounded its development, Mighty No. 9 delivered a perfectly enjoyable run ‘n’ gun action platformer that successfully captured the essence of its inspiration while delivering enough in the way of new mechanics to make it feel at least partially unique. Many obviously disagree, but despite its technical issues and disappointingly bland visuals, Mighty No. 9 was a more worthy heir to the Mega Man crown than many (most) would have you believe.
Either way, whatever your view on the relative qualities of Comcept’s efforts to revitalise the Mega Man template, I think we can all agree that, Into Creates’, Azure Striker Gunvolt was the more successful return to this much-loved genre. Developed in tandem with Comcept’s higher profile equivalent, Azure Striker Gunvolt went largely under the radar with the team quietly achieving many of the goals that Comcept ultimately failed to deliver on. They even delivered what is considered by most to be the more successful take on the Mighty No. 9 licence via the accompanying (and free), Mighty Gunvolt.
This short but sweet freebie retained the 8-bit aesthetic that has become almost synonymous with the genre and stripped back the gameplay to its roots. It might not have brought anything particularly new to the table, but for those essentially hoping for Mega Man 11, this was the game that they had been looking for. Sadly, despite its quality and top-grade retro credentials, it was far too short to appease the fans left cold by the core Mighty No. 9 experience.
That is where, Mighty Gunvolt Burst comes in; a fully-fledged version of its predecessor that doubles down on the old school aesthetic and mechanics while delivering enough content to keeps fans of both Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty No. 9 happy. Again, it doesn’t do anything particularly new, but yeah, I guess that is kind of the point.
As a spiritual successor to Mega Man 10, Mighty Gunvolt Burst is a success on just about every level – the 8-bit aesthetic is brilliant, and the gameplay, despite the occasional twist and one major addition, is pure Mega Man. Sure, you can play as either Beck from Mighty No. 9 or Gunvolt from Azure Striker Gunvolt, but beyond the occasional twist in the unsurprisingly limited narrative, the underlying experience remains unchanged. Whether it be the VR simulation of Beck’s tale or Azure’s more exciting sounding, robot fighting tournament, in practice, it’s all about beating the 9 bosses from Might No. 9 in any order that you see fit. That might sound like treading old ground to those that played through Mighty No. 9 proper, but despite the obvious similarities, this really does feel like a surprisningly unique experience. More importantly, it’s loads of fun.
The level design doesn’t match Capcom’s finest work, but this is an enjoyable and suitably challenging action platformer that wisely sticks to the basics by fully embracing the fundamental mechanics of Mega Man. Luckily, while the core gameplay is largely unchanged, there is enough in the way of additional challenge to keep the hardcore appeased. Beyond the fact that stages are timed as standard, there is a Burst system that allows score chasers to rack up additional points by taking out enemies at close range (each subsequent skill adds to an increasing multiplier). It won’t have much of an effect on gameplay for those happy with the standard challenge and yes, shooting enemies up close is kinda counterintuitive, but if you’re looking to climb those leaderboards, this offers a unique and even more challenging way to approach the game.
A more notable change comes in the form of the games’ unbelievably extensive weapon upgrade system. While slightly cumbersome, the sheer level of customisation here is almost bewildering with every element of your shot adjustable down to the very finest detail. The overall abilities and power of your created weaponry are dictated by the games CP, but with more unlocked as you progress and thus, more powerful and insanely intricate abilities at your disposal, the options essentially become endless with an array of core abilities further amended via the games’ array of subtle sliders that effect everything from the power and trajectory to the speed and size of each shot. This ability fundamentally changes the way that you play the game, and while the depth will invariably put some off, for many, it will deliver endless hours of enjoyable tinkering.
The bosses might be recycled (albeit with some clever twists) and the gameplay obviously familiar, but for those left disappointed by Mighty No. 9’s technical issues and bland art style, chances are, Mighty Gunvolt Burst will be much closer to the game that you envisioned when Keiji Inafune originally announced his spiritual successor to the Mega Man series that he created. Imbued with delightfully paired-back gameplay and 8-bit to the core, Mighty Gunvolt Burst proves an exceptional example of retro gaming done right thanks to its wonderfully challenging gameplay and smart new additions. It might not reinvent the wheel, but in cases such as this, a good old fashioned wheel is just what we were looking for.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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