While I first looked at Azure Striker Gunvolt and thought “this looks like a lot like Mega Man,” my first look at Mighty Gunvolt made me think “this is undeniably Mega Man”. The retro-style visuals, the tight controls, and familiar mechanics all seemed to be here. That said, like Azure Striker Gunvolt, an initial glance at Mighty Gunvolt won’t tell you the full story.
Perhaps the quirkiest aspect of Mighty Gunvolt comes from its collaborative nature between three different series Inti Creates has worked on: Mighty No. 9, Azure Striker Gunvolt and… Galgun. While Mighty Gunvolt bills itself as a crossover between three franchises, in general it feels more like an 8-bit remake of Azure Striker Gunvolt. Four out of the five stages in the game come from Azure Striker Gunvolt, with the remaining one dedicated to Galgun. Sure, Mighty No. 9 isn’t out yet, but I can’t help but be a little disappointed at that level distribution.
That being said, I really like the concept of taking ideas from Azure Striker Gunvolt and presenting them in a more traditional, mechanically simpler way. If anything, this game is actually a crossover between styles of platformers. Mighty Gunvolt looks and feels a lot like playing the NES-era Mega Man games, but many of Azure Striker Gunvolt’s unique enemies, bosses, and stage hazards are carried over and transition surprisingly well into the dramatically different environment.
Mighty Gunvolt also attempts to bridge the old and new style of games with its characters. Beck, Gunvolt, and Ekoro all take gameplay elements from their respective games to inject some new spice into the classic 8-bit platformer formula.
Beck plays closest to the traditional Mega Man moveset. He’s the only character with a slide, which allows him to go under certain areas for shortcuts and bonus points. One of the weirdest things to get used to is Beck’s charging mechanic, which unlike Mega Man, unleashes a powerful dash instead of firing a buster shot. Awkward at first, utilizing the charged up dash can become a very useful tool for both traversal and swiftly dispatching enemies once mastered.
While Beck’s mobility can be difficult to adjust to, Gunvolt feels more natural. He comes equipped with a double jump, allowing him to easily access higher areas and make quick work of the platforming sections. Disappointingly, the only electricity-based attack he uses feels pretty tame, only activating when you hold a button down for a few seconds. Gunvolt shoots out a ray of electricity that can he move around, but the range is kind of short and the long charge time to activate makes the move very situational.
Ekoro seems to be the most technical character in the cast, relying on the ability to charm enemies onto your side by hitting them with a charged shot. After you’ve entranced an enemy, it will fire bullets at other enemies for you until it gets destroyed, either by taking damage or by crashing into enemies by your own command. Ekoro’s mobility relies on the ability to fly, making it a middle ground between Beck’s dash and Gunvolt’s double jump.
The most apparent fusion between older and newer generations of gameplay comes from the level design. To put it simply, Mighty Gunvolt does for the NES Mega Man games what Azure Striker Gunvolt does for the Zero and ZX games. At a glance, levels feel consistent with an NES platformer, but a closer look reveals that the game also serves the same basis for score-focused gameplay that Azure Striker Gunvolt does.
Often, levels have paths meant purely for collecting score-increasing items, with some characters being able to access exclusive areas based on their mobility. Additionally, the combo system from Azure Striker Gunvolt returns, where the more enemies you kill without taking damage the more points you obtain.
Replaying stages for better scores and times makes up the meat of the game, as a casual run through doesn’t last very long. I’m not usually one to count playtime, but my first time through, completing the game with all three characters, lasted maybe a little over an hour total. A desire for high scores and speed-running is essential if you want to get the most out of Mighty Gunvolt.
What levels are there feature some generally good design, although after playing Azure Striker Gunvolt, much of it feels a little too familiar. While the level layouts are different, all the enemies and bosses work almost exactly like they do in Azure Striker Gunvolt, give or take some limitations granted by the faux-NES style. The best level to me might actually have been the Galgun one, which features enemies and a boss I was completely unfamiliar with.
I’m a little torn on Mighty Gunvolt based on my time with the game. As a free bonus, the game is unquestionably a great dessert to Azure Striker Gunvolt’s main course. If it had to stand on its own, however, it feels just a little too small to really stand among its NES inspirations, instead filling the role of a miniature Azure Striker Gunvolt.
I mainly just wish there was more to the game, it develops such a nice foundation, but ends before it hits its prime. That said, while it’s no Mega Man 11 for sure, Mighty Gunvolt scratches a similar itch and I’m glad it exists. And Inti Creates have said that they plan on releasing downloadable stages for the game, including ones focusing more on Beck.
Food for thought:
1. I think it’s really interesting that Mighty Gunvolt emphasizes the score aspect so much, as the only NES Mega Man platformer that tracked a score was the very first game in the series.
2. The plot might be the biggest throwback in the whole game, as the entirety of it is told in two (I’m assuming intentionally) incredibly poorly translated text sprawls. It’s borderline nonsense, just the way I like my NES plots.
3. Another nice little touch is that all of the developers in the credits take on nicknames like the old Capcom game credits, including an appearance by the INAFKING himself.
4. You can soft-reset the game by holding L+R+Start+Select. I was a little annoyed that you couldn’t choose to play as a different character without exiting the game until I figured that out.