By Josh Speer / June 16th, 2017
|Title||Mighty Gunvolt Burst|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone – Mild Fantasy Violence|
More and more, I have come to view Inti Creates as the inheritors of Mega Man’s legacy. Previously that honor went to Capcom, but then they abandoned it to Keiji Inafune, who arguably squandered it with Mighty No. 9. While many were dissatisfied with that game, I personally found things to enjoy about it, and just wished someone would make a tighter, more well balanced version of that experience. I should have suspected the team with the chops to do so was none other than Inti Creates with Mighty Gunvolt Burst. A quick point of clarity, Burst is not nearly the same beast as the Mighty Gunvolt game that preceded it. The former was a quick and easy NES styled game meant to sate the appetites of fans waiting for Mighty No. 9. Mighty Gunvolt Burst is a complete reimagining of Mighty Gunvolt and a sort of demake hybrid of Mighty No. 9 and Azure Striker Gunvolt. It also features two playable characters, Beck and GV. The question then is how was this retro adventure, and did it provide the Mega Man experience I long have yearned for?
Once you turn the game on, you’re given the choice to play as either Beck or Gunvolt. The story for both involves being sucked into a virtual reality and needing to fight their way out. The gameplay experience for each character is structured roughly the same, featuring the same levels and boss battles (with one exception), though the plots and gameplay mechanics vary somewhat. Beck plays like vintage Mega Man, meaning all he can do is run, jump, and shoot tiny bullets. There is no dash, wall climb, or charged buster shot (at least from the get go). Gunvolt is pretty much identical, except that he can find and utilize toned down versions of his Septimal powers. He starts with one, and can find others hidden away in levels. So you might think this game is overly simple by this point, and you couldn’t be more wrong thanks to the customization options in the game.
As you clear levels, you’ll find hidden modules for both characters that let you modify their bullet style and even other attributes, such as whether or not they suffer prolonged knockback from enemy attacks. From the very first level, you can customize your bullet into one of several varieties, such as a propeller blade, missile, or flame shot, but the options don’t end there. You can unlock tons of edits, such as firing larger bullets, changing the angle of fire, making each shot home in on enemies, and a ton more. Once saved, you can switch between custom setups on the fly, as well as pause during stages and modify a new bullet. The customization possibilities are nearly endless, the only proviso being that you have to have enough CP (Custom Points). Each edit costs a certain amount, and you can’t go over your total CP. Luckily, you find CP extensions liberally, and can even get a +300 CP reward every time you first beat a stage.
While I greatly appreciated that much control over my experience, it was sometimes tricky to understand what certain edits actually did. For example, you can change the bullet Element. You would be forgiven for thinking that meant changing it from regular to fire or ice bullets. Instead, it offers options like Heat, Shock and Smash, which all apparently let you exploit enemy weaknesses, but the game doesn’t specify how. It was also unclear why they would offer you the option to slow down bullet firing rates, unless you wanted to challenge yourself further. That said, many of the options provided were useful, especially the Dowsing function which, when activated, pings when you’re near hidden rooms so you can shoot them open and find goodies. If these options all sound overwhelming, you’re in luck, as the game doesn’t force you to customize bullets at all, and even has a default bullet option you can stick with for the duration of the game. So you can tinker if you want, but you aren’t forced to.
The primary draw for the game is the Burst Combo feature, which is triggered by finishing an enemy off up close and personal. That might seem counterproductive given that firing bullets isn’t enhanced by proximity, but it’s mostly there to provide experts an additional challenge. Each time you Burst an enemy, your meter goes up by one. If you kill an enemy from a distance however, your meter is reset to zero. The more Bursts you string together, the more your points increase, which affects the score you get at the end of a stage. You can also collect food and fruit in each stage which serve a dual purpose. You can eat them to restore health, but if you have leftover food at the end of a stage, each one adds to your total score. So if you’re going for that S rank, you need to avoid the temptation to heal yourself and do your best to memorize and avoid attack patterns. While I did enjoy the challenge of the Burst Combo, it is sometimes frustrating when you’re doing well and the game puts you in a situation where you either pull off a perfect Burst or fall to your death. There’s lots of tricky platforming, and the game is not shy about putting enemies in the exact worst places. The trick is to come prepared with the right customization and keep that combo going without losing any lives. Though you do have endless continues, each one counts against your final score, and really add up if you keep dying and dying.
Like any good Mega Man inspired game, the true highlight for Mighty Gunvolt Burst are the fantastic and incredibly challenging boss battles. Whereas Mighty Gunvolt placed you against bosses from the Azure Striker Gunvolt universe, Burst pits you against the Mighty Numbers themselves from Mighty No. 9. Even though I loved their original designs, they are translated to pixels with great precision, and look amazing rendered in their pixelated glory. Inti Creates somehow managed to distill their essence into this retro game while making them more memorable. These Mighty Numbers are no pushovers, as each and every boss fight is an epic confrontation that forces you to constantly be on your A game. If you’ve played Mega Man 9, I would say the bosses here are just as difficult, if not more so. Which isn’t to say they are unfair, mind you, just that you won’t get past them without practice. An example of one of my favorite boss fights was against Mighty No. 8 AKA Countershade. This robotic sniper teleports around the arena, opening wormholes to adjust the angle of his bullets, as well as tossing around weapons that bounce off the walls. Though the fight starts simply, he eventually reaches a point midway where he shoots a giant bullet hole in the screen that obscures your sight, and makes evading his attacks that much more difficult. These bosses are the main draw of Mighty Gunvolt Burst, and they don’t disappoint. Just be ready to die a lot until you truly learn their patterns.
The art design in Mighty Gunvolt Burst was incredible. While it might share part of its name with Mighty Gunvolt, that game had basic NES style graphics. Burst features something more like SNES style graphics and manages to be complex and stylish without seeming too modern. The use of color is especially vibrant, and each and every stage manages to look and play totally differently. I especially liked how the screen was framed by digital wireframe models of whichever hero you’re playing as. On the audio side of things, my impressions were a bit mixed. While the basic sound effects are punchy and keep you immersed, the music wasn’t what I would call amazing. It’s easy to listen to, but none of the tracks were especially catchy, with the exception of the boss battle music, which is still running through my head now.
Though I managed to beat both campaigns combined in just under 6 hours, there’s a lot of replay value if you want to delve back into the game. Finding all the hidden items and stickers takes some effort, and once you’ve done so, you have nearly endless customization options at your fingertips. Plus, while I did beat Beck and Gunvolt’s campaigns, I’m pretty certain I haven’t unlocked the good ending yet (I suspect from past Inti Creates games that there is one here). Besides that, there are 30 optional Challenges that will keep things interesting.
I really enjoyed my time with Mighty Gunvolt Burst. While it does tilt towards the hardcore side of the game spectrum, it was a blast to play on my Nintendo Switch. I hadn’t realized before playing Mighty Gunvolt Burst that this is what I really wanted from Mighty No. 9. For $9.99, you get an incredible bargain which should appeal to any retro gaming fans. Until it comes to the 3DS later this month, I’m glad it gives Switch owners something fun to tide them over until the likes of Super Mario Odyssey and other fantastic games. Mighty Gunvolt Burst is probably the best Mega Man experience not to have that titular character in the title. I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially for old fans like myself.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Azure Striker GunvoltInti CreatesMighty Gunvolt BurstMighty No. 9nintendo switchRetro