Review | GUNVOLT RECORDS Cychronicle

Originally published at: Review | GUNVOLT RECORDS Cychronicle - XboxEra

We’re not too far off from the first Gunvolt game’s 10-year anniversary, developer INTI CREATES first fully developed and self-published title. A Mega Man-like action platformer, the series has since seen many a new entry, expanding the world of Gunvolt and making the series more accessible across other platforms. INTI’s latest spin-off Gunvolt game, ‘GUNVOLT RECORDS Cychronicle’, is a culmination of all the game’s songs played by the series’ respective “Muses”.

Rather than timing platform jumps and power ups, you’ll instead tap and occasionally mush your controller buttons to the rhythm of the beat in this simple but finger-crunching rhythm game.

Slip ‘n Slide

First off, there’s no need for in-depth knowledge of Gunvolt’s games to play Cychronicle. The game will throw you right into a music select screen on boot up, allowing you to switch between four difficulties, adjust game options, and pick one of the game’s three Muses to rep your menu screen: Lola (my favourite), Lumen, and Luxia. The game’s songs, as far as I can tell (and remember) are all songs from the IP’s rich vocal discography and are naturally JPop-focused. Thankfully this means the song’s are far better suited for rhythm gameplay over other game franchises that inevitably make their own spin-off rhythm game (Hello “Twilight Town”).

Cychronicle’s rhythm gameplay is fairly simple for the most part. You have two lanes, one for each side of your controller’s face buttons: the D-pad and left bumper/trigger handle the left lane and vice versa for the right. You also have notes that rely on your analog sticks, requiring you to flick in a direction, or more specifically, follow along a record line until completion. Certain notes grant score bonuses and fill up your screen with more effects. Sounds simple enough, but higher difficulties will quickly pile up the notes and have you criss-cross fingers faster than you’d think.

But what you end up with is a fun rhythm game. I had no issues keeping up with most of the game’s songs, but I quickly ran into an issue on higher difficulties where trying to mash the oncoming truckload of beats with the bumpers just wasn’t fast enough. Since you need to keep your thumbs on the analog sticks at all times, that left me with no other option but to claw-grip my way through some songs. I eventually did figure out a solution, however: I finally put my controller’s back buttons to use for the first time ever. Binding my back buttons to a face button was such a significant boost for me and my reaction times.

Missing notes docks health, but if you catch yourself you’ll regain everything pretty quickly. Now if you do fail a song, you’re free to continue it to completion at the cost of your entire score. Part of the Muses’ powers is that their singing acts as a revival mechanic in the Gunvolt games and that slides nicely into Cychronicle. But naturally, a rhythm game is all about getting the best score possible, so you’re better off restarting—most of the game’s songs aren’t all that long anyway, with only a few full-length options. These songs, along with their corresponding movie videos can be viewed in the game’s gallery at any time. Here you can also make a playlist of your favourite songs, but it won’t follow you out of this menu.

Speaking of the movie videos, these background videos end up being a bit of a nuisance during gameplay. It’s not unusual for a rhythm game to employ an animated movie in the back as you mash away notes—it’s part of the charm and helps the game look flashy. But in comparison to the likes of DJ Max or Theatrythm, Cychronicle is a lightshow and it’s really easy to lose focus on oncoming notes or even have them get lost in the background’s colours on occasion. You can thankfully black out these videos, but if you want to keep them on I suggest picking the lowest possible brightness option.

Gunvolt Records Cychronicle works great for what it is: a spin-off game with fanservice to Gunvolt fans, the game including CD versions of the series’ songs and all. But it’s also a fun rhythm game for anyone to pick up and play—it might even be convincing enough for new players to check out INTI’s catalogue of fun action platformers like the Gunvolt series. ∎