A couple of days ago, I made this post on Miiverse, and a part of me is still debating over whether or not it’s actually true. I personally vastly prefer Gunvolt’s formula in general to Megaman, true. I find the level design more straightforward, I find the boss fights more reasonable as you don’ need a specific weapon to win, and I really like our protagonists. Copen in particular is a great rival character and I was really surprised at how much I ended up liking his characterization as the game unfolded.
However, when I think about classic Megaman games, one thing is clearly missing: the challenge. I don’t think I’ve ever died in an actual level of Azure Striker Gunvolt that wasn’t due to a pit due to the way the game works, namely how killing enemies levels you up and restores your health to full. The bosses, although visually interesting, distinct, and with a lot of cool patterns really go to the opposite extreme in how to fight them. In Mega Man, you have to figure out which power works best on the boss, and it’s very possible you might not have the right power to even beat it. In Azure Striker Gunvolt, you can just spam your basic attack and reasonably expect whatever your fighting to die in a single encounter.
Neither formula exactly pleases me. Megaman’s formula makes the game extremely tedious on occasion, while Gunvolt’s makes the game way too easy and simplistic. It was really frustrating for me to see these bosses unleash all of these cool, powerful looking attacks and to see my character dodge them all using a mechanic I honestly don’t even understand.
So why do I love Azure Striker Gunvolt in spite of it’s problems? I’ve thought about it, and I think it mostly has something to do with the fact that the game stays consistent throughout.
My main problem with Megaman games, especially the classic ones, is just how often the games are filled with really incompetent design choices. For example, the crash bomb boss in Wily’s Castle in Mega Man 2. How the FUCK are you supposed to know that the Crash Bomb is the only weapon that can damage the boss? Anyone going in blind would surely be fucked over by the room’s bizarre layout, where the boss weak points are protected by walls that can ONLY be destroyed by the Crash Bomb. A weapon that, mind you, takes up a lot of energy. If you choose to destroy every breakable wall in the room, you will NOT have the energy to actually destroy the boss.
Or Mega Man 3, where you have to go through old levels again to fight new bosses. Why do I need to do this?
Despite my superficial problems with Azure Striker Gunvolt, it took what I genuinely like and appreciate about Megaman. The cool level design, the intense boss fights, the fast paced gameplay. All of i unhampered by bullshit moments that hamper the experience.
It’s an odd, question, to be sure. Megaman hit higher highs, but also hit much lower lows. Azure Striker Gunvolt is much more consistent, I would say, and stays fun to play throughout. And of course, not having to struggle through endless shitty spin offs, like Mega Man Zero, to get to the good stuff is always a plus.
I think I personally prefer Gunvolt over Mega Man, but I’m not quite sure if I would say it’s ‘objectively’ better. At least not yet. I think the series still has a lot of room to grow, and it would take YEARS to reach Mega Man’s pedigree. Mega Man had a lot of great entries until it started to fall off in the X era, and even then we got absolute gems like the Battle Network games.
At this point, I would say it’s a matter of preference. At right now, I prefer the mighty Gunvolt.