Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 begins simple enough, with its initial gameplay fairly basic and easy to pick up. The first stage acts as basically a tutorial, letting you get familiar with all your skills at your disposal. It took only minutes for me to grasp the controls and begin working my way through the first stages. This is pretty easy, I thought as I cleared the second stage. Almost too easy. I was becoming worried that no challenge would present itself. Those worries, however, were soon proved short-lived as I came to one of the game’s first real bosses.
I expected an increase in difficulty, yet I was nonetheless confident I could learn the fight in no time and soon move on to the next stage. I could not have been more wrong. Though the fight started off all right, by the time I got the boss to little more than a third of their health, I found my own HP dipping dangerously low. It was not long before I was KO’d and Joule was forced to revive me, only to have my health quickly sprint back to zero.
After a few more attempts with roughly similar results, I began to contemplate my gear. Was it simply not good enough? And where did I even go about improving it? I remembered seeing a menu back on the stage selection screen, so I abandoned my futile boss fight and backtracked there.
There I found a system I’m pretty fond of in most games: the ability to synthesize new weapons and gear from the various items I had collected from stages. But, more importantly, I also found the Challenge menu featuring a list of unique tasks to complete in each stage, and with it, the rewards I could receive by completing said challenges. The rewards include Vig, the game’s currency, but also various components that can be used together to create a whole list of weapons, gear, and accessories that imbue different stats.
The Challenges range from quick and easy to rather daunting. For example, nearly every stage has a few time limit challenges, such as completing Seraph Interior in under 4 minutes. Other challenges are more unique to their levels, like destroying all the stained glass windows in the Mysterious Manor stage or clearing the Sewers level without Overheating, the latter of which proves to be a feat in itself considering a large portion of the level is filled with water.
After replaying a few stages and completing a few Challenges, I was able to synth some new gear and reattempt the boss fight. I cleared with little problems and happily moved on to the next stage, though I still found myself going back to the Challenge menu to see what new objectives had been unlocked and what new gear was available.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is now available for the Nintendo 3DS.