Serving both as the primary battle mechanic and platforming utility, the Flashfield (Thunder Scales in Japan) in tandem with the Kudos system is the game-defining aspect of the Azure Striker Gunvolt series.
Gunvolt can surround himself with an electrical sphere called the Flashfield.
This consumes EP. When using the Flashfield in the air, Gunvolt will hover, slowing his descent and allowing him to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.More importantly, the Flashfield is Gunvolt's primary form of attack.
While using it, he will automatically deal damage to tagged enemies regardless of their position. If a single enemy has been stacked with multiple tags, the Flashfield will deal even more damage.
The Flashfield also deals a small amount of contact damage to enemies who enter it, whether they're tagged or not. It can even block incoming projectiles, but be careful: energy-based projectiles are unblockable.
The Flashfield is Gunvolt's most effective mode of damage output. Its overall mechanic also provides opportunities for technical plays that may help Gunvolt effectively outmaneuver enemy attacks.
Gunvolt can "tag," or target, enemies by shooting them with "bolts," or weapons, he uses in battle. Tagged enemies can then be electrocuted continuously through the activation of the Flashfield—even at a distance.
Gunvolt can mark enemies with up to three tags; each additional tag opens up more channels through which electricity can flow, thus increasing the damage per second. Gunvolt's weapon capabilities permitting, multiple enemies may be tagged at once, allowing for multi-kills.
Certain equipment permits a different maximal number of tags at a time, which slightly determines battle style and gameplay. Which equipment effects the amount of tags depends on the game. In Azure Striker Gunvolt, Gunvolt's different bolts effect the amount of tags Gunvolt can have at a time. For example, the "Naga" weapon can tag up to five times, while the "Technos" bolt can only tag twice.
However, in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, clips effect the amount of maximum tags, though the amount of damage dealt increases as the amount of maximal tags decreases, and vice versa. The "Michael" clip, for example, can only tag once, but deals even more damage with one tag than the default "Raphael" clip does with three tags. On the other hand, the "Ramiel" clip can tag up to eight times, but deals an incredibly low amount of damage.
Flashfield & Kudos
By utilizing the Flashfield, Gunvolt can accumulate score multipliers called "Kudos." The Kudos count determines the overall performance score in a stage, which in turn determines the rank received at the end of a mission.
As Gunvolt damages enemies with the Flashfield, the Kudos count increases. The rate of increase is accelerated when Gunvolt utilizes additional tags. Furthermore, technical kills with the Flashfield rewards Gunvolt with larger quantities of Kudos and are essential when attempting to achieve a high stage rank (i.e., S or S+). The technical kills are listed below:
- Full Strike: Kill an enemy that is marked with three tags. +10 Kudos.
- Air Strike: Kill an enemy that is marked with three tags while Gunvolt is airborne. +30 Kudos.
- Double: Kill two enemies within a second. +100 Kudos.
- Triple: Kill three enemies within a second. +250 Kudos.
- Electrifying: Kill four enemies within a second. +400 Kudos.
Note: Full Strikes / Air Strikes can be stacked with Double, Triple, or Electrifying kills.
The Flashfield doubles as a protective barrier against most physical enemy projectiles, such as missiles and bombs. Such projectiles detonate upon impact when they make contact with the Flashfield, leaving Gunvolt (ideally) unharmed. In some cases, Gunvolt may activate his Flashfield too close to an incoming explosive, and the resulting explosion damages Gunvolt. Energy-based projectiles such as ray-gun shots cannot be blocked with the Flashfield.
|Stalling a surface-level attack|
The Flashfield has a secondary effect of slowing Gunvolt's descent during a fall or jump. This aspect can be utilized to stall the duration of a surface-level attack (e.g., Jota's lasers) or allow Gunvolt to glide over his enemies in anticipation of a sweeping attack (e.g., Viper's sliding kicks). Performing a dash-jump and then activating the Flashfield mid-air increases the speed at which Gunvolt can move laterally as he descends, allowing for quick glides across the screen.
The stages (and some boss fights) throughout Azure Striker Gunvolt challenge Gunvolt with a plethora of platforming tricks and puzzles which can be solved with the use of the Flashfield. In most cases, it's a simple matter of tagging specific objects and then charging them with electricity, but there are a few interesting platforming puzzles that require skillful use of the Flashfield. Below is a list of puzzles (named arbitrarily) which Gunvolt may encounter throughout the game:
In many cases, a switch-activated door or elevator hinders Gunvolt's progress throughout the stage. The only way to solve this dilemma is the find the switch, tag it, and then charge it with the Flashfield. In some cases, there may be multiple switches involved and thus require multiple tags at once.
- The elevator at the beginning of 1st Sumeragi (Anthem) introduces this puzzle.
- A pitfall-like door in Pharma Lab (Garden) requires Gunvolt to play this puzzle in order to proceed.
- Sinner's Row (Kaleidoscope) features various switches that deploy tightropes across pits when activated; the tightropes deal damage when they are shooting out. Activating them is not essential to completing the stage; i.e., Gunvolt may finish this stage without activating any tightrope switches.
- Light switches are riddled throughout the Stratocombs (Underworld); in some cases, there are multiple light switches. Activating them is not only essential in terms of stage completion but is also very helpful in that they light up portions of the dark stage, making progress visually easier.
- In the fight against Nova's second form, Nova's core (his one and only weak point) is shielded by a protective barrier. The one way to gain access to the core is to tag and electrocute the septimal entities on either side of Nova—doing so removes the barrier and gives Gunvolt the opportunity to tag and electrocute Nova.
- In Gunvolt's version of The Garden 2 (Inferno), there are multiple switches that he must activate in a certain order to open doors.
Disabling Barriers via Contact
This puzzle only appears in the boss fights against Nova (first form) and Asimov, both of whom are protected by barriers of sorts. Solving it grants Gunvolt the opportunity deal significant damage against the bosses.
- In the fight against Nova's first form, Gunvolt must activate the Flashfield within the radius of Nova's barrier in order to temporarily disable it; once disabled, Gunvolt may proceed to tag and electrocute Nova.
- In the fight against Asimov, Gunvolt cannot damage Asimov by any means (e.g., shooting or Flashfield contact) unless he temporarily disables Asimov's Prevasion. In order to do so, Gunvolt must induce a voltage spike by activating his Flashfield within the radius of Asimov's; the resulting Overheat leaves Asimov temporarily vulnerable to tags and damage.
- In the fights against Copen in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, Gunvolt can either choose to wear out Copen's prevasion by shooting him with darts, or disable it temporarily by activating the Flashfield while near Copen. In the second fight against Copen in The Garden 4 (Prayer), this is the only way to get past Copen's prevasion, along with using offensive skills such as Luxcalibur or Crashbolt.
Hovering Across Magnetic Fields
Exclusive to Datastore (Spintronics) and all other emulations of the stage, this platforming scheme gives Gunvolt an alternative route in moving past spike pits. When Gunvolt activates the Flashfield under a magnetic roof, he levitates upwards but can still move laterally, allowing him to hover across enemies, traps, and objects on the surface below.
- Note: Air Hops and Air Dashes can accomplish the same goal but at a much higher EP cost.
Increasing Visibility in the Dark
Exclusive to the Stratacombs (Underworld) from Azure Striker Gunvolt and all other emulations of the stage, this platforming scheme allows Gunvolt to see in the dark of the stage.
- Lamp-like, flying enemies that are scattered across the stage can be tagged and electrocuted to shine a cone of light underneath them. They move away from Gunvolt's location upon being charged.
- Activating the Flashfield also provides visibility within its radius, allowing Gunvolt to observe the stage layout immediately surrounding him.
Moving Magnetic Objects
Exclusive to the Datastore (Spintronics) from Azure Striker Gunvolt and all other emulations of the stage, this platforming scheme oftentimes hinders Gunvolt's progress in completing the stage unless it is solved.
- In some instances, there are magnetic objects that serve as blockades to stage bottlenecks. Simply activate the Flashfield at a distance to draw the objects away from the bottlenecks to pass through.
- In other instances, there are magnetic platforms embedded within stage walls that can be pulled out through the activation of the Flashfield; the platforms allow Gunvolt to proceed upwards at certain points of the stage.
Powering Mobile Platforms
Scattered throughout the series are floating platforms that remain stationary unless charged with the Flashfield. Tags increase the speed at which the mobile platforms move.
- Several platforms are present in Biochem Plant (Conflagration) and allow Gunvolt to move past lava pits unscathed if utilized correctly.
- Mobile platforms appear above the many spike pits in Pharma Lab (Garden).
- There is a red herring mobile platform in Subaquatic Base (Abyss) whose main purpose is to bait Gunvolt into one of Merak's wormhole traps. The platform can otherwise be tagged and powered like normal.
- Many levels in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 also contain these platforms, such as the Data Facility (Virtuality).
Shielding Against Stage Hazards
Exclusive to Pharma Lab (Garden) and all other emulations of the stage, this platforming scheme damages Gunvolt unless addressed. Swarms of insects occasionally fly across the screen at the second part of the stage and can inflict minor contact damage. Gunvolt sustains no contact damage from the swarm while he is activating his Flashfield.
Slowing Descent / Increasing Lateral Reach
A general platforming mechanic that proves useful throughout the game, the ability to slow descent / increase lateral reach may be utilized especially in Media Tower (Minuet) and Eridu (Streak).
- This mechanic can be utilized to ensure controlled airborne maneuvering / landing when using the rocket launchers scattered throughout Media Tower (Minuet).
- Eridu (Streak) features long pits that can be surpassed by utilizing the increased lateral reach mechanic.
- The Sewers (Effusion) from Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 have many pits that Gunvolt must slow his falls in using the Flashfield, but also contains whirlpools that will temporarily cause Gunvolt to overheat if he uses his Flashfield while caught inside of them.
- Note: Air Hops and Air Dashes can accomplish the same goals as this platforming mechanic but at a much higher EP cost.
The Flashfield's properties can be modified with various gear that Gunvolt equips, allowing for customized gameplay and battle style. As already mentioned, the amount of tags Gunvolt can use at a time is also effected by various equipment.
Some modifications can be stacked, as they would be affected by different types of gear that can be equipped simultaneously (e.g., Flash Focus' effect can be stacked with the Overflash Pendant). The gear that affect the Flashfield's properties and the amount of tags are listed below:
Bolts (Azure Striker Gunvolt only)
- Cerberus: Allows 3 tags.
- Naga: Allows 5 tags, and shots can be charged to pierce through enemies and walls.
- Mizuchi: Allows 1 tag, but darts can be aimed up and down.
- Technos: Allows 2 tags, but fires two darts that crawl along surfaces.
- Orochi: Allows 8 tags, and fires a drone that shoots darts in a sweeping motion.
- Vasuki: Allows 4 tags, and shots can tag multiple nearby enemies in a row.
- Dullahan: Cannot tag enemies, but fires bullets that deal large amounts of damage.
Clips (Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 only)
- Raphael: Allows 3 tags.
- Michael: Allows 1 tag, but Flashfield is much stronger.
- Gabriel: Allows 2 tags, but Flashfield is stronger.
- Uriel: Allows 4 tags, but Flashfield is very slightly weaker.
- Raguel: Allows 5 tags, but Flashfield is slightly weaker.
- Zerachiel: Allows 6 tags, but Flashfield is weaker.
- Ramiel: Allows 8 tags, but Flashfield is much weaker.
- Lucifer: Cannot tag enemies, but shots deal much more damage.
- Dyaus: Allows 8 tags and doesn't decrease Flashfield power, along with firing immensely powerful shots when the Naga bolt is charged.
- Flash Focus(+): Decreases EP consumption rate when activating the Flashfield.
- Dilation Reticle(+): Increases Flashfield contact damage but decreases tagged target damage.
- Wrathful Eye(+): Increases the Flashfield's power, but also its EP cost. Exclusive to Azure Striker Gunvolt 2.
- Lover's Lens(+): Increases the Flashfield's power when Kudos is greater than 1000. Exclusive to Azure Striker Gunvolt 2.
- Feral Focus(+): Increases the Flashfield's power when HP is less than 20%, but caps Kudos at 1200. Exclusive to Azure Striker Gunvolt 2.
- Levitation Band(+): Using the Flashfield freezes Gunvolt's descent, but it uses more EP. Exclusive to Azure Striker Gunvolt 2.
- Overflash Pendant(+): Increases the Flashfield's power, but also its EP cost. Exclusive to Azure Striker Gunvolt.
- Barrier Locket(+): Reduces damage taken while using the Flashfield.