Independent developer Inti Creates announced two new games this weekend at BitSummit: Mighty Gunvolt Burst (for 3DS and Switch) and a port of the Azure Striker Gunvolt Striker Pack (from 3DS to Switch). While perhaps less exciting than something along the lines of the studio's recent Blaster Master remake, they have their own appeal—especially Mighty Gunvolt Burst.
The Striker Pack, of course, is simply a reprise of last year's 3DS release. The change of platform to a single-screen, higher-powered system naturally brings with it some improvements and revisions, but nothing terribly surprising—especially for those who have already played the Steam release of Azure Striker Gunvolt.
"We published the first Gunvolt on Steam, and that served as the base for the Switch conversion," says Inti Creates CEO Takuya Aizu. "We took the Steam version for ASG1 and then added all the DLC for AGS2 to make it a sort of game-of-the-year complete version.
"Probably the biggest notable difference you'll see right off the bat is that both games have been upgraded from 30 fps to 60. When you used to play these old-school games on NES and Super NES, they ran at 60 fps, and it's nice to be able to get back and keep that style of game in 60fps. And to play on a TV, of course!"
The Striker Pack shipped as both a digital and retail release on 3DS, but Aizu can't guarantee a physic edition of the Switch conversion for the U.S.
"We have a physical version confirmed for Japan," he says. "It's going digital for America. We're looking to work with different publishers to get a physical release for America and Europe, but at the moment nothing is set." However, Aizu confirms that the Striker Pack makes the most of Switch's lack of region-locking by including multiple language options: "If you buy the Japanese version, you can play it in English."
However, it's Mighty Gunvolt Burst that offers the most meaningful improvements. The original Mighty Gunvolt was a tiny, snack-sized game that cutely combined elements of both Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty No. 9 (which Inti Create co-developed) into a simple, lightweight action game that spanned a handful of quick levels. Burst, on the other hand, is a full game, which one Inti Creates representative compares to a classic Mega Man game, saying Burst will offer a similar amount of material to contend with.
While Burst plays much like the original Mighty Gunvolt, it's not only a lengthier experience—players have to fight through levels to take on all eight of the bosses from Mighty No. 9—but it also includes expanded play mechanics.
"For the new game, one of the new additions is called the Burst Combo System," says Aizu. "You can build up a 'burst' combo every time you defeat an enemy up-close, and you can chain these combos to gain different effects."
Aizu acknowledges that this works much like the dash-kill mechanic seen in Mighty No. 9, but stresses that it's merely similar in concept—not precisely the same.
"You can draw some similarities between the mechanics of Mighty No. 9 and the Burst system if you like," he says. "The game is directed by [Kinshi] Ikegami-san, who worked on the original Mighty No. 9 project. But this game is being produced entirely by us. While the similarities may be there, it's a completely different experience.
"One of the other things that's been completely reformed from the original Mighty No. 9 is a deep character customization system. As you complete the game, you'll collect chip modules that you can use to unlock new customization options. You might be able to modify the arc of your shot or get an additional bullet on screen, or be able to change your outfit's color. So all these elements really set it apart from the other game.
"There are two major ways to get these. First of all, many of them are hidden throughout the stages. In fact, there's an ability you can use in the Switch version called dowsing — when you get close to a hidden item you'll feel the HD rumble kick in. Maybe there's a hidden wall or something that you have to destroy that contains hidden modules. And then, when you defeat bosses, you can select one of many rare drop items."
The one area in which Burst scales back from the original Mighty Gunvolt is in its number of playable characters. The stage count has increased here, but the protagonist count has dropped... at least initially, anyway.
"For playable characters, this time around you're starting off with two, Beck and Gunvolt," says Aizu. "As you mentioned, there were three characters in the original. So, as for Ekoro [from Gal*Gun], we're actually working on her right now, and the plan is that... when the game comes out, you can absolutely play as Beck and Gunvolt. After that, we'll be adding Ekoro to the game as soon as we possibly can. And we have many more characters to come."
Most importantly, though, Mighty Gunvolt feels great to play. The two characters demand completely different play styles, and the one Mighty No. 9 boss I saw worked brilliantly in proper 2D. The action is zippy and responsive, and the Burst system doesn't suffer from the same sense of sometimes-tedious obligation that Beck's dash attack did in Mighty No. 9. Rather, it feels empowering.
You can't quite shake the feeling that Burst is meant to be something of a mulligan for the Mighty No. 9 crew—a chance for Inti Creates to put them in a game that will go over better with the fanbase. Aizu is nothing but circumspect about this idea, but it's tempting to attempt to read between the lines as he politely distances the two games from one another.
"The presence of the Mighty Numbers as boss characters might leave you with the impression that we're trying to create a connection to Mighty No. 9," he says, "but actually, it's more a matter of our director Ikegami having been involved in that game, too. It's actually been quite a while since all of our duties with Mighty No. 9 have been completed, and the truth of the matter is that we really love these characters. Ikegami probably more than anybody! We love these characters, and we want to give them a chance to appear in a game again. And the way to make that happen is with Mighty Gunvolt Burst.
"We made this game completely on our own, with no input from Keiji Inafune or Comcept. Basically, we said, 'We want to use these characters,' and they said, 'Go ahead!' We were happy that they gave us the OK to use these characters, for free. But in terms of the game itself, there's no involvement from Concept. This is a labor of love by Inti Creates with characters we really adore."
Burst arrives in all regions for Switch on June 15, and two weeks later on 3DS.