Inti Creates is one creative beast of a retro developer. Just when you think the company is gonna stick with something traditional, it comes up with a design that stirs our imagination. I’m still tickled over the fact that its side Curse of the Moon entries in the Bloodstained franchise is just as much fun – if not more so – as Ritual of the Night.
That said, the company also shows its Mega Man-esque inspired side with the exciting Gunvolt saga, and now the latest entry, Luminous Avenger iX (pronounced “icks”) 2 has come along, continuing the action of the first game. It may not be the most jam-packed title when it comes to replayability, but the main journey is the thing – and it packs a wallop.
Run and Gunvolt
This sequel picks up right where the first Avenger concludes, with the heroic Copen setting out to find out more details about a mysterious weapon. However, before he can find out too much, he finds himself in a dangerous new world populated by a dying race of robots. They vow to make things right for this race of robotic beings, but, surprise, they’re met with opposition. It’s here that the adventure begins anew.
This isn’t the greatest story ever told, but it does pave the way for the Avenger and company to kick some serious butt. It’s all about side-scrolling action with some unique caveats, including swift homing attacks with a neat lock-on feature as well as some serious hack and slash.
Along the way, however, Copen can also acquire weapons taken from bosses (hence the Mega Man reference), which he can use against enemies. They’re rather neat, though I still prefer the lock-on talents of the original. To each their own, though – they add a decent amount of variety to the game.
There are some defensive moves as well, including a mid-air dash that will help you get across gaps. The only catch is, unlike the first Avenger, you can only use it once before it goes into recharge mode. This may frustrate some of you, but it’s well-balanced overall – and you are heavily armed.
The Overdrive ability also returns, which helps you clear the screen or restore your health when you need it. Helpful, to say the least.
Finally, the upgrade system is excellent, where you can truly power up throughout the game. That doesn’t stop bosses from being a challenge, but you Gunvolt veterans should be used to that, right? (Fortunately, the game isn’t too overwhelming for newbies.)
It Looks and Sounds Terrific
Like the original Avenger, this follow-up has a nice presentation that’ll suit fans of side-scrolling run-and-gun. The visuals are astounding at times, with a nice anime-style set-up, beautiful animation, and exquisitely designed stages. For good measure, the special attacks look spiffy and light up the screen.
Backing all this up is a worthwhile soundtrack, filled with beats and memorable tunes that are well worth the listen. For good measure, Inti Creates also added a fun little English dub of all the dialogue. Again, it’s not the finest story out there, but the actors give it their all. It does make for a cheesy – though still entertaining – listen. You can also listen in Japanese if that’s your forte, and it’s just as well done.
Eventually, though, this comes back to game length. We made our way through Avenger in just a few hours. Given its decent price point, that’s not a bad thing, and the game delivers in spades. However, if you’re expecting something other than speedrun fodder, you may be slightly disappointed.
While Luminous Avenger iX 2 isn’t a sequel that goes leaps and bounds over the original, it still follows a familiar rhythm that fans will love. Its story could use tweaking, as could the game length. As it stands, though, once you brush those flaws aside, there’s still a lot to love here with visuals, audio, and gameplay. Oh, that gameplay. You’ll be slashing to your heart’s content for a few hours, happy as an avenger can be.
VIBE Rating: 8/10