MAGFest 2016 went down last weekend in National Harbor, MD. Did you get to go? The annual celebration of music, video games, and video game music included some special guests, including the head of Comcept and former Mega Man producer, Keiji Inafune.
Inafune didn't arrive empty-handed, either. Though we already knew a sequel to 2014's Azure Striker Gunvolt is in the works (admittedly more of an Inti Creates project than a Comcept / Inafune project), MAGFest 2016 offered us our first glimpse of the game in action via a trailer debuted at the Inti Creates panel.
There's no word on a release date for Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 beyond "as soon as we can." The game is coming to Nintendo 3DS, and a later Steam release is also possible given Azure Striker Gunvolt eventually received the PC treatment.
The trailer for Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 reveals a fast-paced action / platforming game that seems to play similarly to the original Gunvolt. "More of the same" isn't exactly Shock of the Year territory when you're talking about a game that shares Mega Man's DNA. Nevertheless, Azure Striker Gunvolt's system of tagging enemies and then frying them with intense shots of psychic electricity is intriguing, and it's not likely to feel worn out the second time around.
There's still reason to be concerned about Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, however, and Jeremy outlined those concerns in his review for the first game.
Azure Striker Gunvolt has great ideas that aren't always executed well. Some of the problems Jeremy highlights include long boss fights coupled with steep learning curves, repetitive stages with unimaginative enemy placement, and balance issues.
"Gunvolt's dozen stages tend to feel long and drawn-out. Basic enemies lack variety; you face the same 10 or so bad guys over and over again regardless of the level you're in," Jeremy writes. "The stage mid-bosses are always the same giant bestial mech; the three types of anthropoidal robots you face always use the same predictable attacks. There's never any particular cleverness to the level designs, just the occasional gravitational or mechanical gimmick."
The good news is, Gunvolt's problems are all fixable. The better news is, Mega Man games are still famous for doing things far better the second time around.
Mega Man 2 tightened up Mega Man's pacing while adding more of what made the first game cool (Robot Masters, shooting, cool bosses). Mega Man Legends 2 improved the first game's mechanics while adding a great story and loads of personality. Mega Man Battle Network 2 made exploring the 'net far less of a chore, and added all kinds of secrets.
Mega Man X2 added …
…Well, it's still a good game.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 isn't a Mega Man game, of course, but the two franchises certainly share space on the platformer family tree. It's not unreasonable to believe Inti Creates will take lessons from the Blue Bomber's history, a history it helped shape in later years.
Mighty No. 9's continued delays and mishaps make it easy to dump on Inti Creates and Inafune by association. Putting all that aside, it pays to remember Azure Striker Gunvolt is its own series with its own problems -- and its own potential. Inti Creates is a talented team, and if it can fix up the original Gunvolt's problems, we might be in for a great platformer.