Copen being added to the roster in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 was a shot in the arm for the series. I’m a huge fan of the Mega Man X/Zero games, but the first Gunvolt didn’t do much for me. I appreciated it, but shocking foes with darts didn’t hit the high notes brought by the games it attempted to ape. With the sequel, though, Copen dashing into foes and zooming across the screen added a lot to the gameplay. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2, the second of Copen’s solo games, may still not touch the classics, but the addition of a melee attack alongside the still-enjoyable series gameplay makes this a brief, but fun, 2D romp.
The plot of Luminous Avenger iX 2, much like the plots of all the Gunvolt games, is pretty hard to take seriously. For the first time, the series is dubbed in English, and quite capably I might add! The narrative seems almost like a complete throwaway, though. After the events of the first game, Copen, Kohaku, and Lola are just hanging around, when they’re suddenly isekai’d to another world. This world is ruled over by an AI known as Mother, who is safeguarding the place for the eventual return of humans.
Nothing truly noteworthy happens in the story. Copen must unlock gates to explore the area, and there are robots who have the keys needed to do so. Therefore, Copen fights these robots to gather the keys. He also gets weapons after beating them, as is Galactic Law. There’s not much plot here, but the plotline is perfunctory, even if the translation and voice acting are of good quality. It’s an excuse to have Copen fight robots without stepping on the toes of the Gunvolt story. It really doesn’t matter. You will have to beat the game’s hard mode to get the best ending, though.
Put up a fight
You’re probably going to want to play that hard mode too, because Luminous Avenger iX 2 is easy. The levels are dotted with plenty of checkpoints, plus Lola can heal Copen as often as you want. At any time, you can pop open the ability menu and hit heal. As such, the game is almost never difficult outside a couple of points. One of these is a boss fight where the boss’ special can sometimes one-shot you, all the while there’s a hole in the middle of the battle arena that’ll insta-kill you if you fall in.
The other surprising difficulty spike comes after the requisite “fight all the bosses again” level, where you have to make a sort of leap of faith on breakable platforms after defeating the area’s last boss. If you die here, and you probably will until you figure out how to do it, you’ll have to fight that boss again. But the bosses are so breezy that this isn’t that big of a deal. It is annoying, though, and was very much the low point of the game.
Despite the lack of danger, however, I had a good time playing the game. This is an Inti Creates game, after all; it’s punctuated by charmingly chunky sprites and extremely responsive character movement. Copen’s dashes feel just as satisfying and immediate as they ever did, and the level design, although on the bland side at times, gets the job done. Luminous Avenger iX 2 will take most players about two and a half to three hours, so the length is in line with the other games. That being said, just like last time, there are no missions, which gives players less to do. Powerups are also simply purchased with currency and don’t need to be crafted.
You know the score
Of course, every level ranks you at the end. Many players are going to want to get those S-ranks, and that’s where Luminous Avenger iX 2‘s challenge lies — the game doesn’t just hand you high ranks. If you play a mission normally, you’ll probably get a B most of the time. Higher scores are earned via faster completion times (which grant a score multiplier), killing enemies, and finding golden emblems throughout stages. Each stage has four emblems, and going back through the levels to hunt them down will also extend playtime a bit.
Then there’s the hard mode, which serious players are all going to want to complete, so saying there are just a few hours of game here would be disingenuous. If you care enough to buy this game at launch, you’re not going to simply want to do a single normal run and then shelve it, I’d wager. As Luminous Avenger iX 2 is an “IT’S NOT MEGA MAN! IT HAS A MOHAWK UND A VHEELCHAIR!” game, the unlockable weapons are worth mentioning as well. The EX Skills here are pretty much what you’ve come to expect from the series. Some of them are extremely useful and some of them are mostly useless, even when deployed against the boss weak to skill.
For instance, an early boss grants Copen a rising propeller attack, which is useful for not only easily dispatching foes overhead, but for getting a bit of extra vertical mobility. I almost always had it equipped. Another skill is a minigun that fires automatically until it runs out of bullets. The boss I mentioned with the dangerous special is weak to that one, although it’s pretty hard to hit them with it. I just elected to use Copen’s trusty dash and shoot to do most of the damage.
I saw it coming
Of course, I do have to mention Copen’s new sawblade melee attack. Dashing into an enemy will still lock you onto them, so you can shoot them afterward just like before. But the sawblade makes Copen feel much more like Mega Man X‘s Zero than ever before. Holding the button will see him deploying the small saw as long as it’s held, but you can chain it into a combo to nicely slice up foes. It does feel in the same ballpark as the Z-Saber, but it’s different enough that I’m able to enjoy it on its own merits.
Luminous Avenger iX 2 isn’t going to set anyone’s world on fire. It’s short, easy (at least on normal), and very familiar. But if you like the other games, Copen’s second venture brings more. It’s another block of classic “definitely not Mega Man X” goodness that I pretty happily blast through every few years. Inti Creates is still more than capable of delivering the goods on that front. Now we have Gunvolt 3, with its third character, to eagerly anticipate. Bring it on.