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Guilty Gear XX (Arcade) artwork

Guilty Gear XX (Arcade) review


"Tread carefully, young gamers, for you are entering dangerous territory. You may THINK you are prepared for Guilty Gear XX, but you are wrong. You may be tournament-worthy in several games that house the ''Street Fighter'' name. You can manhandle the competition in a variety of games created by those 3 mystical initials ''SNK''. You may even perform wondrous feats of acrobatic aggression that span three dimensions in the combative worlds of Namco, Sega, and Tecmo. But to assume that a company su..."



Tread carefully, young gamers, for you are entering dangerous territory. You may THINK you are prepared for Guilty Gear XX, but you are wrong. You may be tournament-worthy in several games that house the ''Street Fighter'' name. You can manhandle the competition in a variety of games created by those 3 mystical initials ''SNK''. You may even perform wondrous feats of acrobatic aggression that span three dimensions in the combative worlds of Namco, Sega, and Tecmo. But to assume that a company such as Sammy - not quite gaining as steady a foothold in the fighting world as the aforementioned groups - is going to produce a game that you can easily pick up and excel at? You shouldn't be so naive. People don't leap up to the (near) top of the heap by sticking to the same slag, the stuff that has been done millions of times by populars and no-names alike.

Take a look at the roster. You have the standard blond-haired, blue-eyed type sporting a long rapier-esque sword, simply smacking of ''main character''. Next to him is an auburn-haired character with a darker demeanor, wielding a bladed weapon of similar style but with a more lackadaisical method; this is most definitely a rival to blondie, that's a given. You have the smaller, faster character that takes hits poorly but makes up for it with blazing speed and furious combos. You have the steroid-abusing grappler, making use of his strength to employ crunchingly painful holds and throws in lieu of martial prowess. You have the female practitioner of an old Chinese martial art (usually Tai Chi), her long locks furling about as she whirls into each devastating kick she lands. Have you been suckered in yet? Do you think this is just an average bludgeon-fest?

This is when the cast gets a little weird. Looking for your token Cammy, Blue Mary, Nina, Sarah? How about Bridget, a guy dressed as a girl, and sporting Yo-Yos and Teddy Bears as weapons deadlier than the alien-bashing tools used by the tikes in Earthbound? What about Baiken, a 1-armed, 1-eyed female samurai, with a lengthy claw-arm hidden within the folds of her tunic and a penchant for stabbing anyone she sees? Or Millia, a Russian gal whose style of fighting involves her hair growing to great lengths and thwacking you? Further pushing this game into the outer limits, the roster also includes a possessed man who uses the poltergeists currently controlling him to assault foes, an 8-foot-tall doctor with an oversized scalpel and some truly bizarre attacks, or a blond-haired fellow who uses (and sometimes becomes) his shadow as a deadly tool.

Everyone looks and moves fabulously, with every flicker of movement being brought to life with amazing 60 FPS (Frames Per Second) animation. Their level of detail is disturbingly exquisite and detailed, with the twirling of Zappa's head being oddly realistic, and femme-fatale I-No's topless back-turn making you wonder just how close the animators came to graduating the games' rating from Teen to Mature. The bizarre nature of the players in this game is often enhanced by the fluidity of their movements, demonstrated as Faust swims his way through the air before dropping down, socking you with his bag-covered head, licking you, pogo-stick slamming you off of the opposite wall, then changing into a baseball player before ''HOMERUN!''-ing you into the stratosphere. Everyone else looks fantastic as they bound across the screen, with fans, swords, scythes, anchors, oversized butcher knives, pool balls, and feet flying about in vividly-animated sequences.

While the game looks good, there is no way you could possibly have a contending fighter without some level of depth to the gameplay itself. For that, Sammy has outdone themselves in levels of complexity. Sure, GGXX continues some of the hallmark maneuvers from fighting games that have become the standard - links, high-mid-low hitting stances, jumping and ducking, dashes, special moves, super moves that require meter, throws, counters and combo breakers, pushblocks, and dizzies. Once again, this is deceptively simple. They add their own spices to this potent salmagundi, seasoning with gauges for your Guard, Tension, and Burst abilities. You have a special sauce in the form of a defense mechanism (The Fortress Defense), allowing you to block without taking chip damage or excess Guard Bar increases. And you have been given 5 flavors of cancels, including the creme de la creme of combo-mechanisms, the Roman Cancel (and False Roman Cancel).

Roman Cancels, at the cost of a little bit of Meter, allow you to stop your characters' animation in the middle of their current action. Throw out a projectile, Roman Cancel to end the lag, then rush after it and you have a brand-new offensive to deal with. Lay into your opponent with a blinding flurry of rushing hits, then cancel at the end of that last slam...and start all over, doubling the combo (and damage). True, Roman Cancels have existed in the GGXX regime since its humble, non-X'ed beginnings. False Roman Cancels, however, are new to the pie, allowing more-experienced players to use less meter (at the cost of far, far stricter timing) per their Cancels. Since Roman Cancels, Fortress Defenses, Super Moves, and Dead Angle (Counter) Attacks all take meter, that means your constant jockeying for position is heavily dependant on how much meter you have and how much you are willing to expend to succeed in an offensive persuasion. And since RCs and FRCs can turn anyone in the game into a beast bred for destruction, you'll find yourself worrying over whether or not you even have enough meter to start out a basic combo or combo-setup.

Although hardly an integral portion of the gameplay, the Instant Kills are fun little abilities to toy with. When initiating the Instant Kill, your character no longer has any meter (meaning no Super moves, no RCs, etc), but if they manage to land their Instant Kill...well, as the name would suggest, the match is over and you win. Humorous in design, but highly difficult to land and extremely impractical in application. Blow the hit on your Instant Kill? Guess what, that means you have no meter any more (for the rest of the round). As entertaining as they are, IKs tend to be eye candy...and a gambit where the losses far outweigh the gains.

So how about running away from your opponent? The game frowns upon that, and will penalize you for doing so by removing ALL of your meter - thus, a fast and furious game of offensive strategies is what you will see from all comers. If these sounds like downsides to you, then I do agree - sometimes, the best offense is a good defense (or a 1-hit kill), and the game limits your ability to do so by removing such from your arsenal. However, if I had to attribute one thing as the biggest fault for the game, I would list the Sound as such. Yes, the music features a lot of shred guitar licks and is oddly fitting. Yes, the voice acting is quite good, every character being given a new level of personality revolving around their audible mannerisms and speech patterns. My complaint with the sound is that, in a game as frenetic as this, there is too much going on! Each character has certain attacks that will cause them to scream, yell out a name, et cetera; having a game where dozens of attacks such as this are thrown out in a period of a few seconds can make for headache-inducing crunches of sound. The sound may be crystal clear in execution, there just happens to be too much of it.

What is left to say? The game has one of the most well-balanced - if oddest - cast of misfits ever to grace an arcade, and the graphics and sound compliment the congregation well. The fighting system appears easy at first, but begins to become increasingly difficult - and rewarding - as you attempt to master its higher levels of ability. Strategy and thinking ahead of your opponent are almost parallel to individual character skill level. With no worries about picking a character that will be inherently flawed, you can put more of your focus on the frenetic action taking place before you. But if fast, complex action isn't for you...then go play something else.

Rating: 9/10

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Community review by reverend (January 08, 2004)

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