How A Love For Mega Man And Oldschool Games Led To Azure Striker Gunvolt

By Ishaan . September 8, 2014 . 1:50pm

Last weekend, Inti Creates CEO Takuya Aizu was at PAX Prime to conduct a panel on Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty No. 9, along with Comcept’s Keiji Inafune. Prior to the panel, Siliconera had a chance to catch up with Aizu and ask him a few quick questions about Gunvolt, now that the game is out.


Since we’ve already covered everything there possibly is to cover about Gunvolt’s basic features, I wanted this to be more of a casual interview that focused on Inti Creates themselves, and how they feel now that the game is out.


Azure Striker Gunvolt is finally out. What was it like, self-publishing your first game? What were some of the challenges you faced and what were the things you learnt, publishing a game in the digital space?


Takuya Aizu, CEO: For our first self-published title, honestly, it was a lot of hard work, and we had a lot of problems we didn’t foresee. As a developer you’re used to merely developing the title; however, when you have to self-publish you have to do things like PR, marketing, actually selling the title; that’s a component of standard production that you never would’ve been involved with as an outsourced developer.


Getting to see that side of the business and getting to see just how hard it is [to self-publish] was a fantastic project for us, because we realized that, as a developer, it’s not as simple as just finishing the game. When you’re publishing the title, you have to do a lot of these extra things that take a lot of time, and now I have a much better appreciation for that side of the business.


Gunvolt is an ambitious game. I’d almost call it the equivalent of a 2D character-action game, where the goal is not to try and survive but to play repeatedly, to experiment, and play stylishly. You have so many different systems running in tandem. It’s a game where you customize your character and challenge yourself, rather than the game itself challenging you. There aren’t a lot of platformers like that at the moment, so there will be people that just don’t get what the game is trying to do. Is that something that was intentional?


A lot of people on the staff at Inti Creates are huge Mega Man fans, and they’re the sort of hardcore Mega Man fans that would go through and beat the game using only the Mega Buster. Those sort of people naturally want to challenge themselves. Even if the game will only require you to use the Mega Buster, they would of their own accord do that to challenge themselves. Right from day one, Gunvolt was designed to be a game that challenged themselves more than the game leading them along, so that was in the core design of the title, and even more so in the core DNA of the Inti Creates system.


Obviously, you don’t want to leave your standard gamers behind—you want to make sure everybody can enjoy the game in some way shape or form—and so we have included different systems or upgrades in the game, one of them being Prevasion, which allows you to take no damage from certain attacks, and so even if you’re not a core gamer, you can come in and play this game and still clear it. It really should appeal to everyone organically based on what their natural play style is.


Now that the game is out, would you have done anything differently in terms of the things that ended up in the final design? Features that didn’t make it into the final game, or replacing certain features or bosses with others and so on?  [Note: I was not asking Aizu about the cut dialogue from the U.S. version of the game, which is why he doesn’t mention it.]


When we were initially planning the game out, we did have other features and other weapons that we had in mind for inclusion in the title, and we actually built the schedule around making sure we’d be able to complete all those. However, game development is a very organic thing, and you end up chasing where you find the magic, and so we ended up focusing on things that were getting better and better and played better and better.


Adding more and more polish, because that’s what a creator wants to do: to make something the best that it can be. That being said, sometimes this means that time and energy get put into some features and siphoned from others, and you reach certain points where you say, ‘you know what, they’re not going to be at the level that they need to be to match the quality of the other features we are working on,’ so we had to ultimately cut those.


That being said, looking back on the production as a whole and where we are today, I can say that it’s a very well balanced game. It’s got a lot to it. Do I feel regret for certain items or features not being put into the game? No, because it’s a totally complete package.


Love and Destroy. We enjoyed the first one, can we ever expect to see a second and, if you could, what would you want to add to it?


[Laughs] Love and Destroy is Sony Computer Entertainment’s IP, so whether or not there’s a sequel is largely determined by them. However, I mean, we’d love to talk to them about it in the future if the opportunity ever arises.


Gunvolt has a lot of interesting characters, and while it seems like a game that can be easily enjoyed by children, there are a lot of mature themes that tip a hat towards adults as well. Do you think bridging the gap between children and adults is an important part of Gunvolt?


Obviously, Tsuda-san [the director of the game] personally loves those sort of old-school classic games. He himself is more of a pure-heart and he remembers those games from his childhood memories, and always wanted to create a title that could make all gamers feel that magic that you feel when you’re at that age playing games. Especially for that target audience that’s maybe between 12 and 14, because you still have that innocence of a child, but you’re slowly becoming an adult and starting to look at life a little more seriously.


Finding that sweet spot was what he really wanted to do as a creator, and this game allowed him to do that. I think that, in the future, he’ll be developing more games like this. Adults are our second sub-category when it comes to audience—these are people in their 20s or 30s and 40s. It’s also important to recapture the magic of games they played growing up. Even though we made a game for that 12 to 14-year-old audience, we still feel we made a title that still appeals to a much older group of individuals who can, through Gunvolt, enjoy a bit of that inner child.


Gunvolt’s finished—it’s out, it’s selling, so what are Tsuda-san and the rest of the team working on now?


Aizu: Now, we’re focusing on the European version, since it’s not complete yet. As for what comes after… that’s yet to be determined.


You’ve talked about making a sequel to Gunvolt. Does Inti Creates have any ideas on the table yet?


Obviously, as a developer, we put our heart and soul into Gunvolt, and so the idea of doing a sequel is exciting—but that’s a kind of high-level feeling we have right now.


In terms of ideas or core concepts we’d like to include in a potential sequel, we haven’t thought that far or deep yet. The cold, hard reality is, the key things that are going to determine whether there’s a sequel or not is how Gunvolt does in terms of sales and how active and loud the fans are about there being a sequel. If those two things are in place? Sure! We’d love to do it!

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  • J_Joestar

    Sequel would be awesome, just hope they remember the people who bought this one though.

  • Namuro

    They should be proud. It turns out into a great game, and I enjoy it tremendously!

    Also, love that localisation about the “plug”, tee hee!

  • Rasputing

    I just finished the game yesterday and I’m going through the challenges. It’s a fantastic game which definitely deserves a sequel!

  • Gunvolt is a fun quick game with good replay value with the challenges. it also provides a good challenge at the same time I cant wait for the sequal

  • Likou

    I can’t play this game because I’m from Brazil and Inti Creates simply IGNORED our country. It’s not on eshop, and “was never intended to be listed on eShop there.” I’m really mad at them.

    • MrTyrant

      Didn’t you buy a 3DS and created an USA account? that’s like obligatory for us in any platform regardless of region locks.

      • Likou

        Yeah, silly me.

      • hng qtr

        A Canada account would be better, actually. They accept ANY credit card.

        • MrTyrant

          Can I change? I never tried lol but do they have the same games right?

          • hng qtr

            I don’t think so, the accounts are tied to the console so you probably would need to delete your old account and lose all your games.

        • Reiswindy

          Canada accepts even Peruvian debit cards. I chose Alberta as province, since it has the lowest tax of all Canada.

    • lpchaim

      Stuff like this and the ridiculously inflated prices (bar some eshop-only titles) is why I have my account set to USA. Same for PSN. A shame it has to be that way, really.

  • Bio438

    One of my favorite games this year, absolutely needs a sequel.

  • Nice to hear them talking about releasing the game in Europe.

  • hng qtr

    “character-action game”
    My God, not Siliconera too…

  • It was an ok game. Its was difficult to lose health and almost impossible to die unless you fell in a pit but there was only a few of those. Things that should kill you (Lava, Spikes) don’t. On top of that you had unlimited lives. Another problem is the song that plays for getting 1000 kudos was randomly selected.
    the only challenge comes from trying to earn S/S+
    Casual gamers definitely pick it up.
    Hard core platformers, don’t expect the game to challenge you. If you don’t like games that force you to make your own challenges this isn’t for you.

    • Vanadise

      Yes, the game is designed so that casual action game fans can still get through it.

      If you want a challenge, unequip your pendant. I think you’ll find that things become a bit more difficult.

      • Its not designed so they can still get through it its designed so they do get through it. I haven’t even brought up healing skills and auto re spawning with unlimited jumping and air dashes this feature can’t be turned off.
        If I’m giving myself a challenge its getting S/S+ which you can’t get hit/lose kudos to obtain, taking off the pendent doesn’t help add challenge if you’re rarely getting hit. There is no real point in taking it off unless you want a specific song or more points. These all go hand and hand with forcing you to make your own challenges. The problem with this is it reduces replay value heavily. There is nothing to earn doing this.

        There is nothing wrong with the game it’s just not for people who seek challenge.

        • Ricewarrior

          “These all go hand and hand with forcing you to make your own challenges. The problem with this is it reduces replay value heavily.”

          I’m having a hard time understanding how going out of your way to create your own challenges reduces replay value.

          If anything, shouldn’t it increase replay value since you’re going out of your way to replay the game?

          • Everything I mentioned was for the same thing, taking off the pendent. It doesn’t add anything to replay value If you’re finding a challenge its to get S/S+.
            If you’re like me you were already giving yourself challenges and delaying the ending of the game because the game wasn’t trying to do so. This is the problem with forcing you to find your own challenge.
            If I’m making my own challenges to beat the game what is there to do after?
            There are 4 stages after that are slightly more difficult than the other stages in the game (though they are just previous stages with a few more enemies) but I wouldn’t tell someone to buy it for these 4 stages.

          • Fen Y

            So, you are complaining because the game isn’t holding your hand on the route to find challenges.

            I find that terribly ironic.

          • That doesn’t even make a lick of sense.
            Its like you didn’t read a single post.

        • It sounds exactly like the kind of game FOR people seeking challenge

          • You didn’t read my post.
            If you want to find your own challenges go for it.
            If you don’t, then leave it.
            You don’t get much, if anything, for doing these things
            Believe it or not people like to complete challenges given to them for rewards or more difficult play throughs.

          • You don’t get anything tangible out of playing bullet hell games for score but it doesn’t stop large communities of gamers from doing just that

            Also you can turn an option on to have lava and spikes kill instantly afaik

          • Bullet hell gives a challenge out of the box, people who buy high score games aren’t doing it for the story. This isn’t about that genre of game though.
            The game is what is it I never said it was a bad game or for no one to buy.

            You can’t turn it off you have to unlock a pendent that makes it happen, though if you’re going for or have S/S+ you weren’t touching them anyways. The instant death is supposed to prevent people from finishing the game if I have to finish the game to unlock it its pointless.

          • I was talking about how out of the box, console versions of those games have unlimited continues enabled that neutralize the initial challenge and allow anyone to finish, but I do see your point. While I’m someone with a vested interest in high scores and S ranks, other people may be looking for more tangible challenges from the stage hazards themselves, which isn’t so much the case here.

    • The way I see it, challenging yourself for S+ and high scores IS the fun.It’s like a danmaku game where getting to the end is.just scratching the surface, and total mastery of the mechanics and stage layouts is the true goal

  • evilkaz

    Loving it so far. I’m surprised how much mileage they got out of the lightning field mechanic. Cant wait to see what kind of project they work on next.

    Best of luck.

  • Herok♞

    Really enjoyed the game, the only thing I didn’t like was some cheap enemy placement, that only served to destroy your chain and nothing more

  • Elizabeth ‘Ely’ Moreno

    “That being said, looking back on the production as a whole and where we are today, I can say that it’s a very well balanced game. It’s got a lot to it. Do I feel regret for certain items or features not being put into the game? No, because it’s a totally complete package.”

    How can we make the localization team read this so they can give us back the cut dialogue?

    • Farid Belkacemi

      How much dialogue did they cut ?

      • Haganeren

        All dialogue during mission including boss apparently.

        • Farid Belkacemi

          Wow, that’s… Not fair if true :(

          • Haganeren

            Yeah.. That’s why they lost a client with me… I hate those kind of thing

  • As a giant Mega Man and someone who cant get enough of arcade style games where personal improvement is its own reward I ADORE ASG

  • D. Collins

    And I DO love Azure Striker Gunvolt! He’s so SMOOOVE!

  • DivinePhoenix69

    This game turned out to be wayy better than i expected, i just finished the main story yesterday and i had a blast! The only minor gripes i had was some of the cut dialogue as well as the canceled english dub. Also i would have loved it if some of the english Lumen songs would have made it into the actual North American release. A little bit more variety in weapons would have been nice as well.

    Overall though it’s a fantastic game, if you are a Megaman fan or a fan of action platformers you’ll definately love this. With that said I’m totally down for a sequel!

  • Seeing the story as well as the conclusion after beating the real final boss, this game definitely deserves a sequel. How is this game’s sales figure, BTW? Does it reflect how satisfactory it is, profit-wise as well?

    • No idea how successful it is, considering it’s a download title and developers generally don’t release sales figures for those. I’ll ask Inti a month or two down the line, once it’s had some time to sell, and see if they’ll give us any indicator of how it’s been doing.

  • TheManWithPants

    Man, I just beat the game today and got the good ending. I hope they make a sequel, it was a really good game, even though the localization was nerfed from the Japanese version. Hopefully if a sequel is made, they won’t cut out the in-game dialogue and voice acting.

    • Kris

      The localization wasn’t exactly nerfed. Having played both, most of what you’re missing in the English version is just like reaction lines that don’t add anything to the story. It’s stuff that works in the Japanese game because those lines are voiced, but wouldn’t in the English version.

      8-4’s localizations of Gunvolt and Mighty Gunvolt are incredibly sharp and fun to read, to the point that I prefer that even to the Japanese voiced version. I’m sure the fact that the game is unvoiced also has to do with it being $5 cheaper in the US.

      That said, it’d be great if we got a version with VO and the snappy English text, but it seems as though it was not to be.

  • Kornelious

    I have to say, this game is A LOT more fun than I expected, This truly is a successor to Meg-Man X if there ever was one (Just like I’m sure Mighty No.9 will be to the original)

    I am a bit disappointed the some of the dialogue was cut in the localization, but hopefully that can be fixed at some point….The game is still tons of fun overall :)

  • Shiyaru

    The game is awesome! While I really wish the dialogue wasn’t cut, I’m pretty satisfied with it so far. Who knows maybe they’ll patch in the dialogue someday? Haha Definitely looking forward to the next game if they make a sequel.

    • Firekitty

      Unlikely as long as people keep buying it anyway…unless they decide to release it as paid DLC…

  • Chido55

    How A love towards Inafune makes me wanting to play this so hard.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Azure Striker Gunvolt needs a HD remake like now I loved it

  • Yan Zhao

    Fun game ruined by the cut dialogues. It really made me not care about the world/characters when it looks like it should have.

  • Go2hell66

    Damn europe got screwed this time but at least its coming.

  • Göran Isacson

    I would have liked some more concrete examples of stuff that got cut, but I guess that he wouldn’t want to talk about stuff that could possibly be included later on in a possible sequel… also, I had to google Love and Destroy to get what that was. Talk about blast from the past, now I’m kinda curious how Ishaan knew about it: played it yourself back when it was new, or discovered it later?

    • Discovered it much later! We asked Aizu about it once before, too, but sadly, it sounds like one of those things that’s just too obscure for anyone to care…

  • Fen Y

    Still a really good game, glad I got the proper JP version. It adds a LOT to the characters :)

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