The Ill Communication

Guilty Gear X

Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Sammy Studios
N.A. Release: October 2, 2001

Box Quote: "The most advanced 2D graphics on the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system!"

A definite eye catcher, Guilty Gear X will first pull you in with its high-res visuals and then hypnotize you to stick around with its stylish, over-the-top gameplay.  Keeping with the 2D tradition that was waning when it was originally released in arcades in the year 2000, this fighting game pulled in fans of the genre, curious to see who this somewhat new comer was and what it had to offer that separated it from the veteran studios that own the fighting game scene.

For starters, the character roster is a mixed bag of fighters where some hold weapons while others are empty handed.  When it comes to character movement and speed, there is a dramatic difference between the smallest and fastest character named Chipp Zanuff with his super fast speed, to the very large and incredibly slow moving character of Potemkin.  Although there is varying degrees of speed, all characters have short and long distant attacks to keep things somewhat balanced.

Borrowing a bit from the two biggest names of fighting games, GGX takes samples from each and builds a control scheme and uses fighting techniques that may be familiar to some.  For instance, the controls follow the SNK style of using only four buttons.  With them, you have a punch, kick, a slash, and a heavy slash button.  The latter two are for a character’s unique set of attacks that are normally used with his/her’s weapon such as Ky Kiske’s sword.

From Capcom, they are borrowing heavily with the aerial attacks fans of the Marvel vs. series of games would recognize.  With this, you can perform moves like the double jump, a high jump, and the ability to dash forwards or backwards whilst in midair.  You can also perform a number of attacks in air, too.  This leaves an impression of some fast paced and wacky onscreen action similar to something like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 where characters are flying all over the place unleashing fireballs and other projectile attacks at one another that pollute the screen with a high amount of sprites.

Keeping things intense is the music with its high energy metal soundtrack that includes a lot of guitar-synth, head banging tracks.  Studio Arc System Works would improve the music in the games following GGX like Guilty Gear X2 that include an actual guitar that shreds up the soundtrack instead of using synthesizers for everything.  The music definitely allowed the game to stand out and make players and arcade goers aware of its presence.

Visually the game was hard to top.  The most impressive was the high resolution of the character sprites.  Stylized in the form of anime, the game’s attraction demo screen would have you believing you were looking at a cartoon rather than actual gameplay.  The sprites were also animated very well, like Ky Kiske’s jacket rippling in the wind or seeing Jam Kuradoberi’s body move slightly up and down due to her heavy breathing.  The backgrounds for each stage are also very colorful and include a lot of action in them such as including crowds or other objects that are constantly hurrying around.

A gauge labeled tension will allow the player to perform a number of actions which include both offensive and defensive moves.  In terms of offense, special moves called overdrive attacks can be performed when the gauge’s meter is passed a certain point.  These allow for big hit points and drain the opponent’s life energy down.  Another attack is an instant kill that...well, kills the opponent instantly with one move, regardless of how full the life bar was.  These are the most flashiest of moves that are highly ridiculous and leaves your opponent with shame if they happen to let their guard down and allow for such an attack to be unleashed upon them.  From a defensive perspective, the tension gauge includes a special block that will not allow for even one pixel of your life bar to be decreased if attacked.

There are a few more moves and systems in this game left to be described, but all you need to know is that this one humdinger of a game.  It accomplishes its job well by being loud.  Loud with its gameplay, its visuals, and of course its music.  It may not be the most balanced of games and may not be a shining example of what a game should be for tournament play, but hot dang is it fun to pick up and just play!

Posted on: March 26, 2015