Azure Striker Gunvolt, known as Armed Blue Gunvolt (蒼き雷霆 ガンヴォルト) in Japan, is a platform game released by Inti Creates for the Nintendo 3DS eShop released in August 2014, and the progenitor of the Azure Striker Gunvolt franchise. In addition to utilizing gameplay similar to Mega Man Zero, Azure Striker Gunvolt also introduced new gameplay elements such as Gunvolt's ability to "tag" enemies and target many at once, adding an additional layer of complexity to the genre. The game also got a PC version on Steam, featuring full Japanese voice acting and some lines cut from the 3DS version.
Azure Striker Gunvolt is a side-scrolling action platform game. The player controls the eponymous Gunvolt, who is able to jump, dash, and utilize a gun with special bullets that "tag" their targets, which grants a homing effect to Gunvolt's electric fields. The player's actions are limited by an energy bar, which depletes when using the electrical field, using additional movement abilities such as double-jumping or air dashing, or being hit by enemies.
Gameplay focuses heavily on the player's technique and skill in moving through levels. While finishing a level is relatively easy, the game provides a ranking system as well as several optional challenges. The game introduces a "chain" system in which the player's score is constantly increased so long as the player avoids being hit by enemies, with special actions such as defeating an enemy in the air or defeating multiple enemies at one time providing an additional bonus. The game uses an item-forging and equipping system, the former of which is instrumental in achieving the game's true ending.
The chain system (referred to as "Kudos" in-game) is designed to challenge players to combine speed and tactical planning. It naturally increases as GV shocks tagged enemies, with some bonus applying. For example, defeating an enemy with 3 tags give a 10 Kudos "Full Strike" bonus. Should GV be hit, he will lose all his Kudos even if he doesn't take damage. Kudos can be banked in by using a special skill or by touching a checkpoint. If Gunvolt reaches 1000 Kudos in a level, the standard music will be replaced by a J-pop song sung by Lumen.
In the Steam re-release, multiple Speedrun Modes were added. They challenge the player to complete stages as fast as possible under certain conditions, with an online ranking and leaderboard system. These modes include Kudos Keeper, which increases damage the more kudos is earned while also retaining kudos between stages, Perma-Anthem, which places many spikes in stages, but also grants Gunvolt permanent Anthem, and Point Blank, which increases or decreases Flashfield damage based on the distance between Gunvolt and tagged enemies. The Steam version also adds Christmas mode (where points are determined by presents collected as they fall from the sky). Christmas mode is also available on the Nintendo Switch through the Striker Pack.
Azure Striker Gunvolt is split into stages, which they themselves are divided further based on plot progression. These stages are the setting for the various missions that are assigned by QUILL for Gunvolt. The method of stage selection is inspired by that of the Mega Man series, with several main boss stages able to be played in any order.
Once the true ending has been completed, "Special Missions" are unlocked. These five missions are two halfs of two regular stages combined, but with added enemies and one of two possible bosses at the end. Anthem is disabled and there are no checkpoints.
Azure Striker Gunvolt is set during an unspecified date in the near future, in which several people called "Adepts" have developed "Septimal powers". These powers enable superhuman feats including flight, the use of powerful energy weapons, and manipulation of the elements like fire, water, and electricity. The world is at peace thanks to the efforts of a world-spanning corporation known as the Sumeragi Group. However, the Sumeragi Group is, in reality, controlling and experimenting on adepts. Gunvolt, one of the most powerful adepts, has the ability to create electrical fields and works for an organization known as QUILL, which is seeking to reveal and put a stop to Sumeragi's ulterior motives.
One day, on a critical mission to destroy Sumeragi's Adept radar, the virtual pop idol Lumen, Gunvolt is shocked to discover that Lumen is in fact a young Adept girl named Joule, whose Septima, The Muse, is being used to hunt down Adepts. Rather than going through with the order and killing her, Gunvolt instead breaks her out, and vows to protect her as her guardian, resulting in his leaving from QUILL.
Determined to preserve Joule's new freedom, Gunvolt, and his remaining allies at QUILL, continue their war for Adepts, all the while, a shadowy, powerful figure in Sumeragi continues his hunt for his lost Muse...
|Gunvolt - The main protagonist. Also known as "The Azure Striker" or "GV", Gunvolt was a member of the resistance group QUILL until he came across Joule. Instead of killing her as his orders say, Gunvolt takes her in and leaves QUILL, though he still accepts missions from them.|
|Joule - Joule is an adept who was being controlled by Sumeragi because of her Septimal power.|
|Lumen - Lumen, also known as the Muse, is a projection of Joule's power. She is used by the Sumeragi to control adepts. Some of her songs are played during the game and she can "reincarnate" Gunvolt.|
|Asimov - One of the co-founders and current leader of QUILL, Asimov is the one who took Gunvolt into QUILL and effectively raised him, becoming a father figure to him. Aloof and serious, yet somewhat eccentric in his use of English nouns and fascination with Japanese culture, he, along with his teammates, continues to guide Gunvolt after his departure.|
|Moniqa - A calm, rational young woman who serves as tech support for her teammates. Unlike many of QUILL's members, she is a normal human with no Septima.|
|Zeno - An eccentric young otaku of an Adept, Zeno is another agent of QUILL that often provides behind-the-scenes backup for GV.|
|Merak - A young genius who is intelligent as he is lazy. Apathetic towards even his own life at times, he serves as a commander in Sumeragi's private army.|
|Carrera - Hailed as a powerful Adept Hunter who's speech is riddled with Old English, Carrera fights only in name of his selfish desire for power.|
|Jota - A former soldier, the arrogant Jota serves Sumeragi with the aim of protecting his nation at all costs from terrorists like QUILL.|
|Elise - A young girl held prisoner by Sumeragi for her power over life and death, and subject to numerous cruel experiments.|
|Viper - Once a violent gang leader who ruled Japan's criminal underbelly with an iron fist, Viper joined Sumeragi after falling for Lumen's beautiful voice.|
|Stratos - A once normal young man who has been driven completely mad by Sumeragi's cruel experiments. Only a drug known as S.E.E.D. keeps his voracious desires in check now.|
|Zonda - This enigmatic, love-crazed Adept Hunter is said to wield a strange, yet powerful Septima. The mystique surrounding this Swordsman is so thick that even claims about Zonda's gender are inconsistent.|
|Copen - Gunvolt's de facto rival. Son of a Sumeragi scientist and an accomplished genius in his own right, Copen works against both QUILL and Sumeragi, with the vengeful goal of wiping out all Adepts.|
|Nova Tsukuyomi - The main antagonist. A young, mysterious Sumeragi lieutenant, Nova is Sumeragi's most powerful adept and the commander of The Sumeragi Seven. He is in charge of the equally mysterious Project Muse, for which he desperately needs the power of The Muse.|
Azure Striker Gunvolt was developed by Inti Creates, the Japanese video game development company that also created the Mega Man Zero series, Mega Man ZX, and both Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10.
Inti Creates later released an update for the game on March 5th, 2015 on the Nintendo eShop. The update fixes typos in the game's dialogue, fixes various bugs in the game, the ability to transfer save data from the demo version to the purchased version, new features only available to the New Nintendo 3DS, and more new and/or updated content.
The game's soundtrack was composed by Ippo Yamada, and was released as the Armed Blue Official Soundtrack. All vocal tracks are sung by Megu Sakuragawa in-character as Lumen, and were released in a separate album called Azure Phosphorescence. The game's main theme is Beyond the Blue, with other vocal tracks including:
- Nebulous Clock
- Rouge Shimmer
- Pain from the Past
- Azure Door
- A Zip to the Moon
- Scorching Journey
If Azure Striker Gunvolt was purchased before November 28th, the owner received a code on their receipt to download Mighty Gunvolt. After the promotion ended, Mighty Gunvolt became available on the 3DS eShop for $3.99. A similar promotion occurred during the Steam release of Azure Striker Gunvolt.
Azure Striker Gunvolt received positive reviews, with many praising the art style and gameplay, though it did receive some minor criticism for its similar plot to the Mega Man Zero series. The game sold over 100,000 units six months after its release, described as well for "a download-only Nintendo 3DS game." Inti Creates later announced that Azure Striker Gunvolt sold 150,000 units as of April 1st, 2016.