The Flames of war between adepts who possess supernatural septimal powers, and those who do not, are being fanned once again.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, known as Armed Blue: Gunvolt 2 // Sou (蒼き雷霆ガンヴォルト爪) in Japan, is a game for the Nintendo 3DS produced by Inti Creates.
The game is the sequel to 2014's Azure Striker Gunvolt. The game released on August 25th in Japan, followed by a worldwide release on September 29th. A PC port of the game, based on the enhanced version included in PlayStation 4 version of the Striker Pack, is announced to release on Steam in June 22th, 2020.
Unlike its predecessor, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 has two separate playable characters: Gunvolt, and his rival Copen, each with their own different gameplay styles.
Gunvolt's gameplay is largely identical to the previous game: using his gun, he is able to tag his enemies and use his Flashfield to do extra damage. His Flashfield also slows his descent, allowing him to cross large gaps when combined with his dashes.
In addition to his skills from the previous game, Gunvolt also has several new skills, both defensive and offensive. Certain skills require no skill points at all, and don't drain kudos, though they aren't as powerful as the ones that do. Gunvolt can also make use of "clips" to alter the amount of tags he can use, which increases or decreases the power of his Flashfield.
Copen's gameplay on the other hand, is completely different to Gunvolt's. Copen's gun only fires off lasers on full-auto. These beams deal a higher degree of damage compared to GV's rounds, but cannot be modified in trajectory or effects via equipment.
Copen's gear allows for a great degree of mobility. While he cannot continuously sprint like GV, he can air-dash diagonally, allowing for maneuvers such as continually bounding off walls Mario-style. He can also slow his descent or bound off the floor to keep an aerial combo going.
Copen uses a different equipment system than Gunvolt. Rather than being a series of items stratified by type, Copen loads subroutines (subs) into his gear to gain various effects such as increased attack power. Subs vary in size and effect, and his gear only has so much capacity, so don't overload it. Doing so can result in unfortunate effects, such as reduced defense.
Copen's tagging system can be described as "reverse Mighty No. 9". By dashing into a foe, Copen can tag it to fire a stream of homing shots at that foe until the tag wears off or until the foe is defeated. Copen can only tag one enemy at a time, but the nature of his dashes allows him to bounce off enemies and chain kills for Kudos.
Copen has retained his ability to use special weapons based on the abilities of adepts he defeats. These weapons can be used to fight more effectively or even traverse terrain and obstacles.
- Copen's EX weapons run on a "Weapon energy" bar, which is shown beneath his health. It recharges after a few seconds, but can be enhanced through the use of subs.
Copen has also acquired access to a few of Gunvolt's abilities, namely Prevasion and a version of the Flashfield.
- Prevasion works the same as it does for GV, it negates damage and knockback as long as there's still energy for it.
- Flashfield works a bit differently, as it can still negate explosives and certain projectiles from impacting Copen, but doesn't help with his jumps at all. In addition, Copen can only deploy Flashfield when he has full weapon energy (a blue shield icon appears near Copen's health when Flashfield is available).
All of Copen's gear runs on an "Bullit" system, which is depicted as bullets on the lower-left corner of the top screen. These bullets go out one by one every time;
- Copen activates an air-dash that does not connect with a foe or is not part of a wall-jump maneuver.
- Copen triggers Prevasion.
Copen regains Bullits over time, but he can also quick-charge in a similar fashion to GV.
- Copen can quick-charge in mid-air, but he will accelerate straight down while doing so. This causes a small shockwave that can damage enemies.
- Killing enemies with this grants a +15 "Impact Crush" bonus, but if it doesn't kill there's a high risk of triggering contact damage/Prevasion.
- Note: Unlike GV, Copen has no Overheat or similar problem if he hits zero bullets. He can just quick-charge and be back to full in a second.
The Kudos system makes a return, allowing you to boost your score as long as you keep dealing damage and don't get hit. There are 3 modes by which Kudos can be handled;
- Gutless: Kudos are ALWAYS retained until banked, but they don't boost your score as much. For those who just want some cool tunes courtesy of Muse powers, or those who want to quickly unlock the special music equipment while cheating the Kudos Challenges.
- Cautious: Kudos are kept until banked or you are hit 3 times (default mode).
- Fearless: Kudos are lost upon 1 hit, but are worth more. For those who want an experience like ASG1.
The Speedrun mode of ASG1 makes a return as "Runner Mode". Like Speedrun mode, it features an online leaderboard and rankings, but is modified in light of new elements in the game. Runner mode comes with the following restrictions;
- Prevasion and Anthem disabled.
- Level set to 1.
- Kudos automatically set to Fearless.
- Checkpoints do not work.
- Gear preset.
- Skills preset (GV only. Copen retains all EX weapons).
Stages are structured in a similar format to that of the first game; an introductory stage, followed by several boss levels that can be selected in any order, and then a set order of final stages. However, rather than both characters going through the same stages, Copen and GV both have unique stages that only they can play during the main game. It is possible to play the opposing character's stages through Secret Missions.
A great deal of time has passed since the events of the first game.
Gunvolt, now spiritually fused with Joule, has reached a new pinnacle of power, thanks to the already great potential of his Azure Striker septima being enhanced by the Muse's Anthem. But while his septimal strength has grown, his heart has yet to heal from the scars of Firmament. With the help of kindhearted Quinn, and former QUILL agent Xiao Wu, GV begins to find a new compass in life. Until trouble stirs again, forcing the Azure Striker to take flight...
Copen, having survived Asimov's attack and recovered remnants of his gun, has spent some time developing new gear, and creating the combat support droid Lola. Despite his work and fervor, he makes sure to leave some time to tend to his bedridden sister, Mytyl. But one day, mysterious attackers break into their home and steal Mytyl away. With fangs at the ready, the Adept Slayer dashes into the night...
Meanwhile, a new plan begins to stir. With Sumeragi effectively gutted by Gunvolt's actions, a new organization makes its move. Eden, the Adept supremacist group, machinates to create their own paradise...
Dragon and tiger will clash once more, as mirages and fairy tales carve utopia from glistening shards. With the powers of the Muse on their side, will their efforts result in peace...or war?
"In the face of turmoil, a path toward hope beckons..."
|Gunvolt - The main protagonist and playable character alongside Copen. After the traumatizing finale to the previous game, Gunvolt chances upon a girl named Quinn, that helps him get back on his feet.|
|Copen - The main protagonist and playable character alongside Gunvolt. GV's rival, Copen continues his goal of wiping out all Adepts on earth, in honour of his late father.|
|Joule - A deceased Adept who now resides inside Gunvolt, pushing his power to new limits.|
|Lola - A robot that serves as Copen's combat support, as well as his self proclaimed "guardian".|
|Quinn - A girl with no septimal powers who is saved from a murderous Adept by Gunvolt. She now lives with him, and serves as his moral support.|
|Mytyl - Copen's younger twin sister who, due to her weak constitution, spends her days in a medical facility.|
|Xiao Wu - Gunvolt's operator and a former QUILL operative who's division was wiped out by Eden.|
|Nori - Copen and Mytyl's maid and Copen's operator when he goes out on missions.|
|Tenjian - A stoic and cold Chinese swordsman who serves as the leader and strategist of Eden's "The Seven".|
|Teseo - A joking, meme-making internet troll from Korea, who has a habit of infuriating everyone around him, even when he doesn't intend to.|
|Ghauri - A former street dancer from America who graces the battlefield with his dazzling moves and near nonsensical rhymes.|
|Desna - The Russian mystic seer who is revered as a Goddess by Eden's soldiers, who's predictions are unnervingly accurate and worryingly grim.|
|Milas - This laidback, sea loving Australian wages war on humanity to protect the ocean he loves so dearly.|
|Asroc - Born in France, this talented pastry chef is well known for his affinity with machinery and legendary hatred of humans.|
|Gibril - A sadistic young English girl who's intense bloodlust is riveled only by her sensitive Napoleon complex.|
|Mysterious Girl - A mysterious young Adept who appears before Gunvolt and Copen.|
Early on in development, it was originally decided that Copen would be the only playable character, and have him face off against Gunvolt, who, after the fall of Nova, would be the new antagonist. In an interview, series director Yoshihisa Tsuda said:
"In the earlier days of Gunvolt 2’s development, we originally going to make Copen the only playable character, with a mask-wearing Gunvolt appearing as the new top dog of the Sumeragi Group (the evil organization from Gunvolt 1). He would be in the game as a boss character, appearing before Copen in mid-air surrounded by 1000 Glaives that he would use to transform. If you beat Gunvolt, he would be unlocked as a playable character, but due to varying circumstances we changed things to what you see in the game now."
At another point in the planning stages, there were to be three protagonists. Xiao was intended to be one of them.
According to scenario writer Toshiaki Tai, he believed Gunvolt could not continue as a hero after the first game's conclusion, and assumed he'd have to be an enemy. After being told by Tsuda that Gunvolt would be a protagonist again, Tai was hesitant on how to proceed with the story. Ultimately they came up with Quinn as a justification.
Another early version of the plot involved Japan's defenses falling as a result of Nova's death, and the country being attacked by seven other nations, named General Headquarters (GHQ) after the Allied occupation force of post-WWII Japan, commencing the invasion with missile strikes, which Gunvolt would attempt to stop. While this concept would eventually be scrapped, it would serve as partial inspiration for The Seven, who, not only are a multinational group, but are all named after missiles. The abbreviation of their Japanese name, Grimwald Seven (G7), also stems from the name GHQ.
The game was teased in February 2015, when Inti Creates posted a tweet with the logo for the game. No further info was revealed until over a year later, when a Nintendo Direct on March 3, 2016, showed footage for the game. An official trailer was published the same day, revealing a vague release date of "Summer 2016".
When the Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack was announced, the Japanese release date for both versions was set as August 25th. Later, when it was announced that Inti Creates have partnered with Yacht Club Games in order to bring the physical release to North America, which will release on October 4th. In an official Twitch stream by Inti Creates on August 20th, it was also revealed that Europe would be getting the digital version on September 30th as well, but the release date for the physical version remains unknown. As a result of the collaboration with Yacht Club Games, players can unlock a special boss battle against the titular protagonist of Shovel Knight through use of the Shovel Knight amiibo.
As with the first game, the soundtrack for ASG2 was composed by Ippo Yamada, with most tracks being collected into the Armed Blue Gunvolt: Claw Soundtrack. All vocal tracks were performed Megu Sakuragawa and Yurika Endo in-character as Joule and Lola respectively, and were released in two different albums each containing covers by one character, those albums being Into the Blue and Electro Rotation. The game's main theme is Indigo Destiny, and also exists as a duet, which is featured on the main soundtrack. Other vocal tracks are:
"For Shovelry! Shovel Knight has appeared!"
Shovel Knight, the title hero of his hit platformer game, appears as an in-game boss. By scanning your Amiibo, you will be taken to an arena where you fight Shovel Knight. Beating him gives a powerful item, one for Gunvolt and one for Copen.
- The fight against Shovel Knight is inaccessible in Steam version due to amiibo being a Nintendo-exclusive add-on. As a result, the subsequent bonus equipment is unobtainable. The slots intended for Code of Shovelry Subroutine and Shovel Ring Gear are still present in the game data, but they have no effect when equipped through external tools with cheat function like Cheat Engine.
On December 28th, Inti released a trailer showcasing several DLC packs available to buy in Japan, as part of an update. The update was eventually made live internationally on March 3rd. All DLC was included in the Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack. These DLC packs include:
- A new song for Lumen and Lola: ♪ Stratosphere .
- The ability to create lockets for songs from the original game, which give you more credits and EXP.
- A new mode in Runner mode called Speedrun Mode: a special mode in which you attempt to beat the entire game as fast as possible. In this mode, you cannot save within a level, and your attack power increases depending on the amount of kudos you have.
There are also four DLC packs that enable you to play heavily redesigned stages from the second game, along with new bosses. The first three packs each feature two of the six Sumeragi Swordsmen from the first game, with slightly altered attacks. The packs come in these pairs:
- Merak and Carrera in The Sewers and Data Facility
- Jota and Elise in Babel and Mysterious Manor
- Viper and Stratos in Isle of Dreams and Prism Highway
This DLC pack, like the previous three, boosts heavily altered versions of the stages Downtown and Frozen City, featuring the second game's final bosses with completely overhauled, powerful attacks, making them incredibly difficult. Beating them unlocks powerful abilities for Gunvolt and Copen.
Like it's predecessor, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 received positive reviews from critics, with praise directed at the gameplay, art direction and the inclusion of Copen as a playable character. However, it did receive criticism for being rather similar to its predecessor, as well as its fairly low difficulty.
- Shortly after the game's reveal, Tsuda shared concept artwork teasing a new character only known as the "Masked Man." It was later revealed that it just was concept art for Gunvolt.
- However, this design was later used in Mighty Gunvolt Burst.
- Unlike the first game, any skills that have had their names changed are re-dubbed by the voice actors, as opposed to the first game, which just played the Japanese voice clip over the changed name. This would become the series standard moving forward.
- The 1st official trailer was released on April 3, 2016.
- Unlike the first game, this game lacks an Easy or Hard Mode, though certain equipment such as the Omega Pendant and the Heaven and Hell X subroutine can be used to replicate Hard Mode.