It’s been 20 years since the world of Sol Badguy and the Gears was born and Arc System Works & PQube have put together a little birthday package to celebrate. Is it happy birthday or a night full of regrets and bad choices?
Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary takes 2 titles from the many in the franchise at 2 important times, the very conception of the series with Guilty Gear & the last Sprite based game Guilty Gear XX ACORE+R, you can see where Blazblue got its naming habit from!.
Guilty Gear originally released on the Playstation 1 in 1998 and is wildly considered one of the first proper AFGs (anime fighting games). The roster really stood out for its time, the series main protagonist Sol Badguy looking like something that jumped out of every young Otakus dream. If you have ever played any Guilty Gear the roster of 10 here will feel instantly familiar and it’s a fantastic chance for fans who joined later to see the characters origins.
Guilty Gear is a little thin on the modes, it features Arcade, Training and Versus, no option for online play here. All the modes on offer are self explanatory and there are no surprises here which is a shame, online multiplayer would have been a massive bonus for the title.
The game really doesn’t show it’s age at all, it has an almost SNK charm in the way the camera zooms in and out while your fighting, the sprites still hold up brilliantly and the arenas are all very pleasing on the eye, for a fighting game from 1998 you could do alot worse and it’s fantastic to see just what helped Guilty Gear become the series it is today visually.
If you haven’t played any of the main Guilty Gear games, it is a fighting game much like Street Fighter, with gorgeous anime visuals and blistering fast heavy metal. It has your standard weak to heavy 4 button step up, special attacks, ultra attacks which require meter and an Arc Sys special, the Insta Death move. The latter being a very risky move which if it lands can instantly end a set, if you miss it leaves you wide open for a beating.
A final note on Guilty Gear is the music, the music as expected from this series is fantastic. Some of the tracks will be familiar to series vets and for newcomers you are in for a lovely metal inspired soundtrack while you battle through the games 10 fights or whittle the hours away in Versus.
On it’s own Guilty Gear isn’t the strongest title, it’s well worth a look at the right price but in regards to additions and content it may leave you feeling a bit wanting.
Guilty Gear XX ACORE+R is the real draw of this package and I’m happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint.
ACORE+R is the latest and final iteration of the Guilty Gear XX series which was the sort of sequel to Guilty Gear, confusingly there is a Guilty Gear 2 which plays like a tower defence brawler but hit the LINK for more details on that. The game released in 2013 and is the final title to use sprites as the series now uses beautifully made 3D models.
The game is the culmination of years of Guilty Gear, featuring a roster of 25 characters, more than double that of the original game, even smoother combat, new mechanics and much more content. The games mode options are quite a hefty list too with the following Story, Gallery, Sound, Arcade, M.o.M, Versus, Network, Team vs, Training, Survival and Mission.
Arcade, Versus, Training, Survival, Gallery, Sound & Network are all self explanatory, yes we have online here and the few matches I had ranged from good performance to incredibly laggy but my Switch is only run through WiFi which any Switch owner knows is a gamble.
Story follows some of the cast through the plot of Guilty Gear XX ACORE, this is quite a jump from Guilty Gear 1 and if you aren’t familiar with the lore of the series, a trip to Wikipedia may just benefit you. It is totally playable without it but alot of the references and deeper sections will mean nothing. The character you choose also has a few paths they take through the tale and that’ll change the ending. It’s a decent enough time sink and for fans of the lore it’s really well written.
M.o.M follows the same basis as Survival, one health bar, fight as many of the cast as you can, only this time your score is built with Medals which you earn by pulling off combos, special moves and the like.
Team Vs sees you picking 3 characters and your opponent picking 3 then it’s 1 vs 1 brawls till one team is victorious. It’s a shame it’s not a proper Team vs mode but it’s still a nice addition to bulk out this already weighty package.
ACORE+R has a whole new set of combat mechanics coming off the back of Guilty Gear and despite there being a training mode I do feel a quick trip over to DUSTLOOP would benefit any newcomer in the nuances of the game.
Graphically ACORE+R is no slouch, showing the true beauty of what you can do with sprites and some of the most beautiful draw backgrounds around. While the first title drew similarities (in a good way) to SNK, ACORE+R firmly dwarfs the similarities and not only stands toe to toe with the champs of hand drawn but also manages to carve a very distinct mark into the landscape.
My only issue with the game is that using the joy cons my inputs were intermittent at best, I know the joy cons aren’t ideal for the genre in general but this game really made me work for my moves. If you are wanting to really get the most of the title I’d suggest getting a Pro Controller.
As separate games, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core + R stands head and shoulders over the original Guilty Gear, if you are buying digitally there isn’t much incentive to buy the original when you can get the online enabled, richer in content version. If you get the physical copy of the game which comes with both then the original game is firmly the nice cherry on the top of this outstanding anime fighting game cake.
I’m a firm fan of the series and have always held the XX series in very high regard. XX Accent Core + R is easily one of the series highest points and in my opinion the highest, I would argue that this is the Garou/SF3 of the series and does enough still to make it worthwhile playing alongside -REV 2- which is the latest current gen Guilty Gear.
If you haven’t played the series before and always wanted to dip your toe in, here is a fantastic place to start, especially if you can track down a physical copy of the game. It is the best 2D Fighter on the Nintendo Switch and if you are a fan of BlazBlue you’ll especially find alot to love here.