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Video Game / Azure Striker Gunvolt Series

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Azure Striker Gunvolt (Armed Blue: Gunvolt in Japan) is a series of 2D Action-Platformers in the vein of the Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX games developed and published by Inti Creates with input from Keiji Inafune (of Mega Man and Mighty No. 9 fame). It is Inti Creates' first self-published title and multimedia franchise.

In a World... 20 Minutes into the Future, superpowered beings called Adepts have begun to emerge at a rapid pace all across the planet. With the world unable to cope with the sudden influx of meta-humans, Adepts quickly instigate global destabilization of world order. The only country safe from the Adepts' influence is Japan, whose Adept population is kept in check by the Sumeragi Mega-Corp. It is here where the stories of two teens are brought to light, embroiled deep within the heart of the Adept conflict.

Azure Striker Gunvolt primarily focuses on two major protagonists:

  • Gunvolt, hero of the series and the titular Azure Striker, an Adept who has dominion over electricity. Rescued from horrific Sumeragi experiments by his father figure, Asimov, Gunvolt is an idealist hero who seeks to bring down Adepts who would use their powers for evil and believes that Adepts and humans can live in harmony. Gunvolt's gameplay is reminiscent of classic Run-and-Gun with puzzle elements, attempting to tag enemies with his gun then electrocute them to rack up Combos. As Gunvolt defeats bosses, he earns new guns with unique shot patterns to wield in combat.
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  • Copen, second protagonist and rival of Gunvolt. Copen is an Anti-Hero who seeks to exterminate all Adepts with extreme prejudice, believing them to be a danger to the continued existence of the human race. His radical views against Adepts draws him into conflict with Gunvolt on multiple occasions. Promoted to Playable in the second game, Copen's gameplay is highly evocative of an action platformer with Run-and-Gun and Stylish Action elements, mixing up high speed, high flying platforming with aerial shooting combat. As Copen defeats bosses, he learns the attacks of fallen Adepts and uses them as his own.

The Gunvolt series is well known as being Inti Creates' own attempt at a Mega Man Zero Spiritual Successor following the successful backing of Keiji Inafune's Mighty No. 9, and the studio's former experience with the Mega Man series is evident in various elements of Gunvolt. It is also better known among its fans for its low skill floor, high skill ceiling gameplay; the games are quite easy casually, but shooting for high scores as the game intends can get pretty Nintendo Hard. There is also an emphasis on exploiting both the game's mechanics and enemy patterns to their fullest extent as well as perfect-play to rack up as many points as possible.


Gunvolt currently consists of four major installments:

  • Azure Striker Gunvolt (2014) — During a mission to assassinate the virtual idol Lumen, which Sumeragi is using to locate and capture Adepts, Gunvolt discovers that "Lumen" is actually a humanoid manifestation of a Septima known as "The Muse" possessed by Joule, a young girl under Sumeragi's control. Rescuing her and taking her into custody, Gunvolt begins to work alongside Joule and his allies at QUILL to take down a league of Adepts controlled by Sumeragi known as the "Sumeragi Swordsmen" while fending off the mysterious avenger Copen.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (2016) — Shortly after the events of the first game, Gunvolt and Copen simultaneously intercept a Sumeragi airship hijacked by Adepts, where an encounter with Eden, an international Anti-Human Alliance, leads Joule's power to become split into nine Shards. Gunvolt and Copen proceed to hunt down the Shards while simultaneously surpressing Eden's "Seven", a dangerous group of Adepts who harbor a deep-seated hatred against humanity.
  • Luminous Avenger iX (2019) — A spin-off of the main series under the Gunvolt Chronicles banner. Set an unspecified time after the events of Azure Striker Gunvolt, Copen attempts to free a distant country from the iron grip of Sumeragi and its elite squad of "Falcons", powerful Adepts under Sumeragi's employ, while searching for a mysterious entity only known as the "Butterfly Effect".
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 — The third entry in the main series. Notable for being the first game since the original Gunvolt to involve Keiji Inafune. It also features the first playable female character, namely Kirin.

Both the original and Gunvolt 2 were packaged up together and sold as a Compilation Re-release called the Striker Pack, released initially for the 3DS and later ported to the Nintendo Switch. While the 3DS version was a simple compilation of both games, the Switch version introduces multiple enhancements, such as 60 FPS presentation with HD artworks and all of Gunvolt 2's DLC included with the pack.

Gunvolt hit it off enough to be featured in various spinoffs and crossovers, which include:

The Azure Striker Gunvolt series contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The series is set in a world that is very similar to ours except set an unspecified time into the future. iX averts this with a 100 year Time Skip.
  • Achievement System:
    • The first and second games feature Challenges that reward Gunvolt and Copen for clearing in-game objectives. The Steam version of the first game also has integrated Steam Achievements.
    • iX notably removed Challenges, since Item Crafting was also kicked out and thus there would be nothing to earn from them besides Credits.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Many gaps in the story (primarily offscreen events and Time Skip details) are filled in by various audio dramas.
    • Every member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad in each game has a backstory that is only briefly touched upon in-game. Their full backstory details are typically revealed in promotional material, such as official website profiles.
  • Anti-Human Alliance: Eden in 2, Sumeragi in iX.
  • Auto-Revive: In all three games, you may be revived by your support character in the event that you die in battle. This is marked by your character respawning on the spot with full HP, a Battle Aura, and kickass music as your support character unleashes her Anthem Septima. This always results in the player gaining a massive power up to give them a huge advantage over enemies, but triggering Anthem in a stage prevents you from gaining any Kudos.
  • Art Evolution: Key art for the original game used a sharper style that emphasized details on characters and was overall darker in design. Artwork for the second game onward streamlined the designs and characters became more rounded and stylized as a result.
  • Alternate Timeline: As the game's chronology goes, there are two current timelines in existence, with the branch-off being the ending of the first game.
    • The first timeline follows the True Ending where Joule sacrifices herself to save a barely-alive Gunvolt, who kills Asimov in vengeance and stops his plans before they start. This timeline leads into Azure Striker Gunvolt 2.
    • The second timeline follows the Bad Ending where Asimov successfully kills both Gunvolt and Joule and goes through with his plans to make an Adept-only world, taking over Sumeragi and leaving the barely-alive Copen the only one to stop him. This timeline leads into Luminous Avenger iX.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Elise's Septima, Resurrection, can bring back (supposedly) most forms of life, including herself. In her level, the Zombie Apocalypse-style theme of her level is the result of her using her Septima on deceased humans and invoking Came Back Wrong, remarking that Sumeragi "should've been more specific".
    • The Muse Septima can go as far as to revive dead Adepts. This is incorporated as an Auto-Revive mechanic for the heroes.
  • Background Music Override: Used with nearly reckless abandon throughout the series, as music is a major element across the franchise.
    • If you're holding onto 1000 unbanked Kudos, the main character gets a Battle Aura and Lumen/Joule/Lola becomes corporeal. During this time, one of several music tracks will play over the normal stage music, which includes the main theme and a selection of various vocal tracks that can be picked at semi-random or with special equipment. In the first game, achieving this in the Boss Rush Bonus Level will cause an English version of the theme song to play instead.
    • Dying and triggering the Auto-Revive will cause Lumen/Joule/Lola to cast Anthem and transition into Muse/Awakened Form, where a song unique to the Super Mode will play: "Reincarnation" for Lumen/Joule, and "Igniter" for Lola.
    • iX also features the song "Beyond Probability" for when Lola activates Darkness Trigger.
    • Theme Music Power-Up is also used gratuitously at key points, up to and including invoking and inverting it in the same game.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Both Gunvolt and Copen have loved ones to care for: Joule, an abused MacGuffin Super Person whom Gunvolt gives her freedom, and Mytyl, Copen's sickly and mute younger sister whom even he keeps the true nature of his one-man war from. Both girls give the heroes something to fight for, and touching a hair on their heads with even the slightest of malevolent intent is the fastest way to incur the wrath of either hero.
  • Boss Rush: A carry-over from its Mega Man influence. Notably, each boss rush is justified due to the presence of an Adept who can either bring the dead back or can create copies with all the powers and even personality of the originals. Each game also features a special post-campaign mission that pits the player against all of the game's bosses in sequence.
  • Bottomless Pits: The heroes will oftentimes traverse over precariously placed obstacles, with imminent death awaiting if they fall. Unlike most normal hazards, Anthem can't save you from falling to your death. Easy Mode in the Steam port of Gunvolt does add a Bottomless Pit Rescue Service, however.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • Gunvolt, the Azure Striker, has... azure clothing.
    • Copen is identified by his white attire and hair with red accents.
    • Most members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad in each game have an identifying color that is used on their Tron Lines.
  • Combos: Gunvolt gains more Kudos for defeating multiple enemies at roughly the same time, up to three enemies. Copen, conversely, gains more Kudos for every enemy he defeats without landing, up to 5x the base value.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist:
    • Sumeragi in the first game is a primarily human-led Mega-Corp who seeks to use Adepts to subjugate Adepts to preserve the human race and maintain world order (in their own twisted way). Eden in the sequel is an Adept-led organization that wishes to annihilate the human race for their mistreatment of Adepts and create a world where Adepts can thrive.
    • Eden's Seven in 2 is made up of Adepts who willingly joined the organization to exact vengeance on the human race due to their horrible mistreatment by humans, and fight Gunvolt and Copen to the death due to their desire to protect humans. Sumeragi's Falcons in iX by comparison is made up (mostly) of Adepts who are forcefully conscripted into Sumeragi's employ against their will and have no personal qualms with Minos or Copen of any sort, but must fight to the death because of the untold consequences if they don't do their duty.
  • Crapsack World:
    • The setting in the Gunvolt series isn't exactly sunshine and rainbows. Adepts across the globe have pretty much destabilized world order, with horrible implications. Ironically, because of Sumeragi's tight leash on Adept activity, Japan has been able to maintain relative peace and societal order, having a society extremely similar to the real world but with Adepts.
    • The setting of iX, however, is an out-and-out straight example, with Sumeragi having effectively taken over the world and killed off most normal humans. The Adepts live in a Dystopia setting while the surviving humans, now called Minos (for "minority"), hide in the slums away from Sumeragi's watchful eye.
  • Deflector Shields: Gunvolt's Flashfield doubles as an energy barrier that destroys tangible projectiles like missiles on contact. Copen's Flashshield/Flashfield does the same, but activates automatically and only if his EX Weapon Gauge is full.
  • Difficulty Levels:
    • Starting from 2, games feature alternative options for Kudos: Gutsless, Cautious, and Fearless. These don't immediately affect gameplay, but does make Kudos retention easier or harder in exchange for boosting the max Kudos multiplier limit.
    • The Steam port of Gunvolt has traditional difficulty options in Easy and Hard flavors.
  • Dub Name Change: A tradition for the series is to change the names of some of the named characters, some terminology, and nearly all of the Limit Break names whenever the games are localized. To name a few:
    • The series itself was originally named "Armed Blue: Gunvolt". "Armed Blue" became "Azure Striker", and the name of the titular Septima was changed accordingly.
    • Septima and Adepts are both known as "Seventh" in Japanese. iX shook this up a bit by adopting the term Septima, but then changed "Adepts" to "Septima Holder" while the localization stuck with "Adept".
    • Gunvolt's primary ability, Flashfield, is called "Raigekirin". Copen's derivative version is called "Flashfield" in Japan, so this was changed to "Flashshield" to avoid confusion with Gunvolt's ability. Incidentally, the localization of iX changed it back to "Flashfield".
    • Copen was originally called "Acura", fitting in with the Vehicular Theme Naming convention of the Sumeragi Swordsmen despite being unrelated to them.
    • QUILL was known as "FEATHER" in Japan.
    • As mentioned, most of the SP Skills undergo name changes to ditch the Gratuitous English or altering any particular word-play to fit in English. Starting from 2, all of the SP Skill callouts were also re-dubbed in the original Japanese to fit the localized name in non-Japanese versions.
  • Easter Egg:
    • In both the first and second games, you can mash the Jump button on the loading screen to interact with it.
    • The first game also featured various collectible Retraux icons in each of the stages that set your Kudos to 1000 when picked up. They can only be revealed by shooting them with the Mizuchi, otherwise considered a next-to-useless weapon.
  • Fantastic Racism: There are more than a few humans who have a less than desirable outlook on Adepts, and vice versa. This is the primary reason why people like Dr. Kamizono and Sumeragi perform live experimentation on Adepts. Discrimination against Adepts also factors into the backstories of every single one of Eden's Seven, motivating most of them to join the group.
  • Have a Nice Death: Most bosses have a unique quote that will play if you die against them.
  • Holiday Mode:
    • The Steam port of Gunvolt unlocks bonus holiday-themed Arrange Modes when the game is booted up on certain dates.
    • Starting up iX on certain days will grant Kohaku a themed outfit.
  • Idol Singer:
    • Lumen is a virtual idol ("cyber diva" in Japanese), whose music is wildly popular across the nation. She is also a manifestation of Joule's Septima, and because her songs have Magic Music properties, she (and Joule) is constantly hunted by people who want to exploit that power.
    • Lola is one in iX, raising the morale of the surviving Minos by uploading her songs to the Under-net.
    • Isola moonlights as one, using her position as a Falcon to use her Septima to spice up her concerts. She also has her own song.
  • Indie Game: Gunvolt is Inti's first attempt at one, as it is their first self-published project. The success of Gunvolt has lead them to following up with several other independent titles, such as their Blaster Master reboot series and Dragon: Marked for Death.
  • Kid Hero: Both playable characters are in their teens. Despite this, they seem to display Badass Baritone and experience well beyond their years.
  • Kill All Humans: Eden wants to wipe the human race off the face of the planet to create a paradise for Adepts. Also Asimov's goal before Gunvolt put an end to his machinations. Although in the timeline where he killed Gunvolt, he comes a hair's width to actually pulling it off.
  • Interactive Fiction: A short text adventure called Azure Striker Gunvolt DOS was released as a promotional item at PAX Prime 2015 on an actual floppy disk (thus making it unplayable on most modern systems). It's loosely based on the first game and uses a lot of Intentional Engrish for Funny. It has since become playable online, but the codewords needed to progress only come with the physical copy.
  • Magic Music: The Anthem Septima is a recurring element of the series. A rare and powerful Septima, Anthem has the power to drastically magnify the power of Adepts who hear the user's song. It is thus highly coveted by both heroes and villains, even moreso than the titular Azure Striker Septima, and is frequently integrated into gameplay.
  • Multiple Endings: Gunvolt features two different endings, both of which lead into different timelines. 2 had the True Ending be accessible by completing both campaigns and is an extended version of the normal ending. iX did away with any ending variations, having only one concrete ending.
  • No-Damage Run: While the conventional type of "no damage" is very easy thanks to the Prevasion mechanic, not triggering Prevasion at all (i.e. not getting hit) is a different story entirely. The latter is vital to getting the best score.
  • Parrying Bullets: Promotional material for 3 shows off Kirin's ability to deflect projectiles by slashing them with her sword.
  • Power Limiter: The Glaives, a sword-shaped weapon created by Sumeragi that contains an Adept's "Adept gene" that holds their powers. As a result, Adepts under Sumeragi's employ generally stay in the form of normal humans until they enter combat, upon which they use their Glaives to activate their Septimal power.
  • Randomly Gifted: Having Muggle heritage does not necessarily omit you from gaining Adept powers from birth. Tenjian and Zonda were both subject to this, and their birth parents abandoned them as a result.
  • RPG Elements:
    • You gain EXP for defeating enemies, which turn into Levels that award more HP and unlocks new Skills or Memory Expansions. You also have access to a variety of equipment that you can fuse with materials found by completing stages and augment your powers.
    • iX tones them down significantly; EXP and Levels are still a thing, but Item Crafting and Copen's Memory system have been kicked out, with a set list of freely-changeable abilities that you can buy with Credits taking their place.
  • Scoring Points: The main gimmick of the series is the Kudos mechanic. By dealing damage, defeating enemies, and performing certain stylish actions such as defeating multiple enemies in a row/simultaneously or finding secrets, you gain Kudos, tracked by a counter at the left side of the screen. Kudos aren't points, but by touching a checkpoint or casting most Special Skills, you can "bank" Kudos, converting them into points by multiplying the current value by the accompanying Kudos Multiplier. The multiplier rises as you gain Kudos, encouraging you to hoard lots of Kudos and then turn them into a big score stash at once. The main threat is that if you get hit, even if your Prevasion activates, you lose all of your unbanked Kudos and the points are wasted. In addition, your score at the end of the stage is affected by multiple additional factors, including clear time and (in iX) Difficulty Level. This encourages the player to play fast, efficient, and smart to maximize score and get higher ranks.
  • Shock and Awe: The titular Azure Striker Septima, considered one of the strongest, if not the de facto strongest, Septima in existence. Gunvolt, owing to his skill and ability to wield the Azure Striker power, is considered The Dreaded even among Sumeragi's top brass.
  • Spiritual Successor: Gunvolt borrows heavily from Inti Creates' prior games Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX, such as the use of a mission-based format, RPG Elements, and heavy emphasis on story. Ironically, Power Copying wasn't introduced until the second game, and is never used by Gunvolt himself.
  • Spikes of Doom: A common level hazard, although they merely inflict damage instead of being a One-Hit Kill. Eden's gratuitous use of them to create Malevolent Architecture is lampshaded mercilessly by the heroes in 2.
  • Spring Jump: Copen gets access to multiple.
    • Twintail Bunker, Desna's EX Weapon, can be pointed at the ground by holding Down while casting it. If done so, Copen will launch into the air in addition to dealing damage to anything near and below him.
    • The Code of Shovelry Subroutine allows Copen to bounce off the ground if he performs a Reload Crush.
    • Rising Cyclone, Bakto's EX Weapon, propels Copen into the air if he is inside the vortex. This also cancels his flight, so be wary if you happen to be over something harmful.
  • Super Empowering: Even before the start of the first game, Sumeragi has been tinkering with ways to implant Septima into otherwise normal humans. The most relevant of these is Project GUNVOLT, an underground project that seeks to impart the Azure Striker Septima to normal people. The titular Gunvolt is a survivor of the project and was compatible, while Nova attempted the transfusion but was unable to manifest Azure Striker powers. Also, Blade is subject to this in the Luminous Avenger iX timeline, becoming the new Azure Striker in Gunvolt's place.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The game's theme song may sometimes play when Anthem is activated after reaching 1000 Kudos. 2 also inverts this spectacularly, when the theme song kicks in... as the True Final Boss activates his Auto-Revive. Cue the true True Final Boss.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: The loading screens in 2 makes several references to this in describing the relationship between Gunvolt and Copen.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: As stated in supplementary material, Gunvolt killing Asimov, partly to stop his Kill All Humans plot but mostly to avenge Joule's murder, didn't make him feel any better, mostly having the inverse effect. Gunvolt later tries to teach this to Copen during the True Final Boss fight with little success (Copen's not much of the "listen to his enemies" type).
  • Wall Jump: A basic ability for both characters. Notably, the game uses Mega Man X-style wall jumping where holding against a wall and repeatedly pressing the Jump button allows the character to scale it, but characters cannot slow their descent by pressing against the wall.


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