Right now, we’re hosting a level design discussion on Azure Striker Gunvolt using Google Hangout. Please drop by!

Come join us in Google Hangout for a great discussion on Azure Striker Gunvolt! Topics include genre and challenge. We’re starting now!

Azure Striker Gunvolt discussion this Saturday

Hey, Gunvolt fans!

I’m working with supercool game critic Steve Johnathan to organize an Azure Striker Gunvolt discussion. This will cover the topics of player mechanics and challenge design. It’s going to take place Saturday, October 11th at 8PM US Eastern time. That’s October 12th, 12:00 midnight GMT.

I’ll post a link here an hour prior to discussion. Everyone is free to join!

In the words of Johnathan himself:

What genre would you put [Azure Striker Gunvolt] in? What other games would you compare to ASG? What’s the core function of the game?

This will then segue nicely onto the topic of mechanics. The most discussion worthy would be the tag and flash system. How interesting is it really? What exactly does it add? Does it explore its potential design space well or not and why?
Next comes the difficulty. Were you able to find a sweet spot for the difficulty? Why or why not, how often and where?
Achievements refers to the challenges you can choose before entering a mission and the game’s scoring system. How much did it change? If you didn’t care, how come?
These are the main points I want to hit but the outline is not strict. Before we enter the next topic, people can bring up any comments and questions they have about the game w/in the current topic. At the end, people can comment or ask questions on topic not brought up in the hangout and that aren’t the topics for the second hangout.

The bosses in Azure Striker Gunvolt are carefully crafted, each featuring a distinct set of attacks that evolves over time. How do these attacks work together to give the boss a distinct identity? In other words, what gives a boss its theme?

But wait, that’s not all! Zuntata also performed the final stage tune from Darius II live. Lyrics and all! It’s not too different from the arranged version, but it’s still worth a listen just because this song kicks ass. And hey, there’s some extra flourishes here and there with the horn!

Zuntata has a bunch of live Darius stuff, too. You should check it out!

On one hand, it’s really cool that Zuntata went all out and gave lyrics to the final stage tune from Darius II. On the other hand, I think it’s a love song addressed to “papa.” I try not to think about it too hard.

Anyway, whatever. I just like the idea of blowing up giant space fish bosses while this lady sings about romance.

Whoa! After a couple downgrades, here’s an upgrade to the final stage theme from Darius II. The lead synth initially comes in as a haunting choir thing, only to be replaced by a triumphant brass section, exaggerating the odd mix of tones found in the original tune.

These PC Engine CD soundtracks would always throw in their own special bits, and this is no exception. Check out the rad bridge at 1:48 that turns into a guitar solo at 2:02!

In all, a goofy and satisfying take on the original. But there’s no one saying “papa”!

Darius II also got a Master System port, and here’s the final stage theme. While the Genesis version is a successful downgrade, this version doesn’t fare so well. The sound chip just can’t handle some of the subtler things Darius II goes for (check out 2:34). All the notes are there, but the hardware is too crude to make them sound right.

Here’s the Genesis/Mega Drive version of the final stage theme from Darius II.

The “ooh”s come across as pretty weak organs, so I’m not a fan of that. On the other hand, the lead synth comes in stronger. In the original version, the lead synth has more subtle dynamics. You might say the Genesis version is a downgrade in this sense, but I find it enjoyable in its own right. This is matched by a stronger bass in the Genesis version, as well. In general, the mastering plays up the poppy angle of the tune, although the overall structure still hits that proggy sensibility.

Then, the lady who says “papa” has that raspy voice problem that Ristar did.

This here is the final stage from Darius II (also known as Sagaia). The entire Darius II soundtrack is great, but this track in particular goes beyond the scope of the rest of the tracks and ends up as some kind of pop prog thing. It’s also interesting that the final stage—chock full of tough foes and the height of the game’s difficulty—is so energetic and hopeful.

Also, there’s a lady that says “papa.”