Thursday, August 28, 2014

Azure Striker Gunvolt Out Tomorrow - Why Mega Man Fans should care

With everyone still up in arms about Inafune's new "Mega Man" (Mighty No 9), the world seems to forget that Beck isn't the only new blue hero in town... Or maybe the world just doesn't know?

The History:

After Inafune left Capcom and Mega Man Legends 3 was canceled, fans lost hope for the series. Capcom's last release was a fan game crossover between Mega Man and Street Fighter, while all of their "official" releases were nothing more than mobile ports of older titles. Nothing new has gone into the works, and Capcom continues to avoid the subject of the series' future. Sure they've commented a few times stating that Mega Man isn't dead, but they never have anything to back their statements up. Instead, they offer version after version of Street Fighter 4. So, when Inafune announced that he'd be making his own "Mega Man" it isn't that shocking that fans flocked to it. The game reached all of its goals on Kickstarter, and even an animated series has gone into the works. To put it simply, the project is already a huge success, and fans can't wait to get their hands on it. The only thing though... The Mega Man series really isn't that "clear cut." Sure Mighty No 9 may be the new Mega Man, but what about the others?

For those who do not know, the Mega Man series isn't quite like others out there. For example, when someone mentions a game such as "The Legend of Zelda," what do you think? Chances are you'll think of an adventure game where you run through dungeons, explore a world, get cool equipment, and make your way through a story. Well, guess what? Mega Man has that too, and it's called Mega Man Legends (Or Rockman DASH if you're in Japan). Unlike most games out there, the Mega Man series is actually more than one series. While the classic games were platformers where you ran through stages and got new powers from fighting bosses (just as we see in Mighty No 9), the other are quite a bit different.

Mega Man X was the second series to be released, and was the first to make use of the (at the time) new Super Nintendo. While it kept its platforming roots, it sped up the gameplay by adding a dash move, the ability to wall climb, and by adding in the ability to charge up special weapons for different effects. The game was a bit more challenging than the classics, the story was much darker, and it even featured a brand new cast of characters. As time went on, Mega Man X went down its own path away from the classics, and eventually allowed you to play as the swordsman Zero, as well as the mysterious "Axl" who could transform into the enemies he killed. This series became much more action oriented than the originals, and gained a strong following of its own.

During the course of the Mega Man X series, another series emerged once again. While the second spin off was an action adventure game (Legends), the third was called Mega Man Zero and it followed in line of the X games. This time around the story focused on Zero, and took place even farther into the dark future of the timeline. With Zero the art style switched to a bit more realistic one, stages became more open, light RPG elements were introduced (with weapons that leveled up with use, and upgrades/skills/abilities to find and use), and the action was brought up a notch as well. The series only lasted for four games on the Game Boy Advance, but once it ended it evolved yet again.

Mega Man ZX was the follow up to the Zero series, and this time it featured human characters who could barrow the powers of heroes from the past. While the game did follow in the footsteps of Zero (more so than Zero compared to X), the ability to change your armor and fighting style on the fly greatly enhanced the gameplay, and the new open world found in the first game (not it's sequel "ZX Advent") changed how the game progressed in general. Once again, just as Zero and X before it, the game gained its own fanbase, and the ending of ZX Advent just left wanting more. Like the classic Mega Man series, X series, and Legends, the ZX series just sort of ended without any real conclusion, and fans had no choice but to wait for Capcom to make their next move... Which to this day has never happened.

Besides the action line of games, there was also the Battle Network series which was a "card based" action RPG. Just like the Zero games, Battle Network was a series found on the Game Boy Advance, and it too gained popularity both in the west and Japan. Not only did it spark a long running anime series, but it had a toy line, and produced a few spin off titles of its own. Once it ended it too moved onto the DS in the form of the Star Force series, but that's all besides the point, and has nothing to do with the point of this article; Azure Striker Gunvolt.

Azure Striker:

What a lot of people don't realize is that along with the "reboot" of Mega Man comes a reboot of the Zero and ZX series as well. Azure Striker Gunvolt is the first entry in what may become a long running series (depending on sales of course). Created by Inafune and the team behind the Zero and ZX games, it is what one would call a true spiritual successor.

Azure Striker releases tomorrow in the west as a Nintendo 3DS/2DS eShop exclusive. The game is only 15 bucks, but it is a full fledged title. Following in the line of ZX, the game features the same art style, the freedom to select the order you take on different stages, the ability to dash and wall kick off of walls returns, and the RPG elements make their way back in with enhancements as well. For anyone who has played Zero or ZX, you will feel right at home with this one, but at the same time you'll find it to be quite a bit different as well.

The game's story focuses around a young boy with psychic electric based powers, and that plays a key role in the gameplay. As you progress through the game you'll unlock new skills and abilities (which you can equip or unequip to suit your needs), but the basics of his attacks comes down to this. You'll shoot your gun to do light damage and tag enemies, and then you'll unleash your electric powers which deal damage to said target until your energy bar is empty and you have to recharge (which takes less than a second). With a combo score at the top of the screen, the game pushes you to combo kill as much as possible as you speed through the stages to get the best score. Just like with the Zero games, the game can be seemingly easy at first, but if you want to ace the stages, it requires a great amount of skill.

On top of the Mega Man Zero/ZX styled Gunvolt, a second free game comes along with it for a limited time. "Mighty Gunvolt" is a crossover between three different games the developers have worked on, with the two main ones being Gunvolt and Mighty No 9. This eShop game is none other than a classic 8-bit style game where you can play as, well, Gunvolt and Beck. It is a full throw back to the NES days of Mega Man, and is sure to please fans.

So, there you have it. Just when you thought Mighty No 9 was the Mega Man revival, this game comes along to show that there is more. Now, we ask you, if you're a Mega Man fan or Zero/ZX fan, help spread the word! Unlike Mighty No 9 (which everyone knows), this game gets little to no promotion, and most may not even know its origins. It's your job to let them know!

For more information, check out the official website below:
http://gunvolt.com/en/

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