Having recently discovered Inti Creates on account of their work on the Mega Man Zero series, I began to peruse their catalogue and saw a game that, at the time, was heavily discounted called Mighty Gunvolt. I decided to pick up the game along with a couple of others and, having since finished the game and having gotten all of the achievements, I think it's a game that is well worth reviewing.
The thing that's important to be aware of before we take a look at Mighty Gunvolt is how it was originally released. Back in 2014, Inti Creates released Azure Striker Gunvolt, a spiritual successor to the Mega Man series, for the Nintendo 3DS and, if you purchased Azure Striker Gunvolt within the first month of its release, you received Mighty Gunvolt as a free extra. When examining this game as part of a review, it's worth keeping this in mind, that the game started life as merely an add-on. It received a standalone release afterwards on the PS4 and Vita, in Japan only, and was later released worldwide on PC.
Having gotten 100% in this game, you'd expect that I'd be aware of what the plot was. To be completely honest, I'm not. The opening explains that a media group called Sumeragi is kidnapping female students and conducting experiments in order to develop a new "Muse" idol. Then we learn that Gunvolt from the Azure Striker Gunvolt games, Ekoro from the Gal*Gun games and Beck from Mighty No. 9 are teaming up to fight through occupied facilities in the city. This plot is told to us through butchered opening text filled with poor grammar and I can't help but wonder if this is intentional or not. This opening text and the closing text are the only parts of the game that stand out to me as being poorly translated and I wonder if, given this game is an homage to 8-bit Mega Man style games, Mighty Gunvolt is mimicking the sometimes poor translation that brought us lines such as "All your base are belong to us" and "Uh-oh! The truck have started to move!"
Regardless of this, it's highly likely that you won't be playing this game for the story but rather for the gameplay. When you begin the game, you're given a choice between the three main characters who each have their own unique abilities. Gunvolt is able to double jump and, when holding down the attack button, fires a continuous beam that can be manipulated up and down, Ekoro is able to float in the air when the jump button is held and is able to get enemies to fight alongside her if she finishes them with a charged attack and Beck is able to do a dash that allows him to access certain areas on the map and to inflict damage on enemies. I would personally argue that Gunvolt feels the best to play as but each character is sufficiently different that replaying the game with each can be quite fun.
As for the gameplay itself, if you've ever played a Mega Man game then you'll be familiar with the format of platforming throughout a stage, shooting enemies until you finally reach a boss. The platforming itself feels good with tight, responsive controls and the stages themselves, while not exactly inspired when compared to the best levels that Mega Man has to offer, are enjoyable to traverse with a few little secrets and just enough distinctiveness to set themselves apart. A few differences when compared to Mega Man is that you progress through each stage linearly, rather than being able to pick from most of the stages at the beginning, and you don't gain any upgrades by defeating bosses. This does result in the boss fights feeling a little simplistic at times but they can also prove to be a decent challenge as they rely on quick reflexes and pattern recognition in order to defeat. It's also worth noting that there is a life system in the game where, when you run out of lives, you are kicked back to the beginning of the stage rather than at a checkpoint. There are ways to farm for lives and the stages themselves aren't that long so this isn't much of a punishment but it's definitely something to be aware of.
Having mentioned that the stages themselves aren't that long, let's move on to the biggest criticism that this game often receives, it's too short. There are five stages throughout the story, although the final level plays a little differently, and, depending on your skill, can be completed pretty quickly. There are four optional stages that were added after release and, while these stages prove to be more challenging than the main game, there still isn't that much content in the game with the time it took me to get all of the achievements being around three hours. For the price that I managed to get the game for, I was happy enough with it but, if we're talking the base price, the game can feel a little poor value, particularly if you compare it to many much larger games that are often discounted to this price.
The graphics of this game are quite basic from a technical level, since it's emulating the style of 8-bit games, but the art direction is superb with excellent use of colour, clear level design and distinctive character designs that make the playable characters, enemies and bosses feel unique and easily distinguishable. I also have to give particular praise to a certain aspect of the presentation which, since NES games were 4:3, sees the widescreen contains borders which actually display the controls and abilities of the character you've selected. This is a really nice touch that allows you to very quickly figure out how to play each character and makes excellent use of the space that would otherwise remain empty.
The soundtrack is also quite pleasant to listen to with some wonderful chiptune music that largely complements the action taking place on screen and, given how short the game is, there are a surprising number of tracks that were produced with this short game actually having two composers!
Mighty Gunvolt is a pleasant experience for fans of games in the style of Mega Man but I do confess that the game is a bit lacking when it comes to content. However, I'd definitely recommend picking it up when it goes on sale as it's a fun time and, when discounted, represents decent value.