Developer: Arc System Works
Played on: Playstation 2
Don’t be too excited by the “XX” thing in Guilty Gear XX. This is not some pornographic fetish game involving weird adult toys like some people may assume. This is a colorful and outright insane fighting game involving some eccentric characters straight out of Japanese fantasy animes. Set in some futuristic setting where the world is split asunder by typical apocalyptic scenarios, this game has characters bashing each other’s brains out for the flimsiest excuses of plot.
The main character in this game is Sol Badguy, some rogue warrior of sorts whose weapon is a rectangular broad-sided blade. This guy is cheesy with his over prioritized C slash that can cut through the opponent’s attack like a hot blade through cheese. A chimpanzee playing this game can win just by repeatedly pressing that slash button, I tell you. But if someone play this character right, which is to say the person takes the trouble to master Sol’s moves beyond that overpowered slash, the result is some fancy swordwork. Sol’s nemesis is this wimpy blond guy named Ky Kiske. His weapon is some huge beefed-up lance-like sword with gives him the advantage of range. His moves contain standard projectiles and uppercut moves and he can be a predictable character to play.
The cute little pirate young lady May is the weakest character in the game despite her amazing ability to wield a huge anchor as a weapon despite her thin frame, because while she can conjure cute dolphins to attack the opponent or roll in the air in a tight ball to hammer the opponent, she lacks truly damaging combos of other characters and she also lacks any reliable methods to counter these damaging combos. On the other hand, her guardian, the womanizing pirate Johnny, is a much better character. He lacks truly damaging attacks, instead he specializes in stacking his sword attacks, coin tosses (that increase the damage of his attack if they connect with the opponent), and unblockable mist attacks together so that their attack power and damage combined can result in truly devastating carnage.
The displaced modern-day Axl, who is obviously patterned after Axl Rose of Guns ‘N Roses, who happened to teleport through some portal to the mad world of this game, uses nunchakus to attack. These nunchakus can extend to great distance across the screen so Axl rightfully specializes in range attacks. He can fly up the screen and land on the opponent’s head too. Maybe it’s just me but when I use Axl, I get clobbered hard though when the opponent manages to cross the distance and attack me up close because I can’t get Axl to work properly when it comes to near-distance attack. The unpredictable Zappa, a poor guy who is possessed by ghosts, gains attack moves only when I trigger one of his ghosts that watch over him and gain one of the few possible spheres of attack. What kind of attack setlist I get is random. If I get a doggie, Zappa will therefore have to use the dog to aid his attacks. The most powerful is one where Zappa is covered by a fiery armor – in this mode, his moves are very damaging. Getting it, however, is the hardest part and the key is surviving until Zappa manages to get that fiery armor.
Jam doesn’t need any weapon because she specializes in kicks and punches like the kung-fu lady she is. This means that while she can pack some mean attacks, she lacks range and she requires getting close to the opponent to unleash her most devastating attacks. Anji is this bespectacled guy who uses fans. These Japanese men are always so secure in their sexuality, I tell you. Some of his moves have autoguard properties. The one-handed samurai lady Baiken specializes in counter-attacks, which is to say, she has many moves that can be used after she has blocked attacks to strike back at her opponent. Bridget is actually a little boy dressed up in girl’s clothings. I’m afraid to ask. He uses a yoyo and his teddy bear Roger to attack. Shockingly, Bridget is a pretty versatile character that can stand his own pretty well. Then there is Testament, a guy who dresses up and looks like a woman, whose scythe allows her, sorry, him to attack with range and devastating speed. Dizzy, a winged woman, has wings that can morph into what seems like archers and other projectile-throwing creatures and she has a wide array of projectiles to back up her melee attacks.
Rounding up the roster are Millia, who uses her hair to attack, Slayer, a vampire who uses standard punches and kicks, I-no, a scantily clad witch who uses her electric guitar to attack (kinda like Melodia from that horrid cartoon Silverhawks, come to think of it), Eddie, who is like Spider Man’s nemesis Venom in that he has a shadowy symbiote who does his dirty work for him, Venom, someone who has lost his way to the snooker centre and ended up here with his snooker sticks and balls (seriously), Faust, a doctor who has a paper bag over his head and a long scalpel, Potemkin, a huge and slow but very strong muscle-bound guy with long arms and destructive super throws, and Chipp, a Dragonball-Z wannabe who uses a short sword and with his teleports and dashes is the fastest character in this game.
One thing great about this game is how easy many of the characters are to use, in the sense that combos are easy to be executed. Somewhat paradoxically, this game also has a learning curve that may challenge the patience of some players. Certainly until now I have yet to really master how to cancel moves to their full effectiveness. (Many characters can truncate some of their moves to seamlessly segue into another move, therefore attacking the opponent continuously.) There is also a button for “dust attack”, which is these charming Japanese people’s way to depicting an attack that sends the opponent flying into the air and allowing me to jump after that helpless dweeb and attack continuously without that opponent being able to fight back. So far my best “dust attack” is pressing the weak punch or weak kick button, depending on the character, continuously on the “dusted” opponent, but I’ve seen the AI perform some devastating dust attacks on me using a varied combination of attacks. Hmm. There is also a normal air combo attack where characters can send opponents to the air and attack. The difference between the dust attack and an air combo is that the opponent is sent high up in a dust attack and it’s easier to pull off an attack while the opponent is up in the air (see: pressing a single button repeatedly like I do!) while a normal air combo requires precision and timing. I use Millia, for example, and the best I can do after launching an opponent into the air with a crouching hard slash is a weak punch before following into another hard slash (where Millia’s hair turns into some sort of helicopter rotor and slashes the opponent viciously – cool). On the other hand, Millia controlled by the AI can perform long and continuous air combo attacks on me.
Still, this game is fun in a crazy way because every character, except for poor May, has the potential to do utterly crazy combos in this game. I really like using Millia because she has a wide array of traps for her opponent in corners, especially this move of hers where she creates a green disc of power around her. She can move after this disc is created, therefore she can attack while the opponent is trapped in the corner. She is fast as well and her moves can be easily stringed into all sorts of combo. The downside is that in this game, fast characters have a trade-off where they take damage more than ordinary characters. As the second fastest character in this game, Millia takes less damage only when compared to Chipp. On the other extreme is Potemkin, a slow and huge character who doesn’t even have a forward dash, who takes the least damage from opponents as well as delivering large doses of pain. The problem with Potemkin is that he has to find a way to withstand the onslaught of fast characters and catch up in order to deliver his powerful attacks. Faust has the farthest range with his insanely long scalpel and while his attacks are comical and eccentric, they are very powerful. Eddie is a hard character to master compared to some others, but he has some complicated but powerful combos that can really hurt. By the way, professional gamers list Eddie as the most powerful character in this game. The other three top tier players are Millia (fast and good at traps), Slayer (he has a truly cheesy infinite combo), and Faust. Zappa is unpredictable and to play him, I must master all his moves in all his different styles.
The graphics are great and animation is fluid. I don’t like the cheesy announcer at the start of each round but it isn’t so bad, really, not when there is great gameplay and lots of cheesy BS to pull off on helpless opponents. Guilty Gear XX requires some time to fully understand how to play it to the fullest – and I have a lot more things to try out in this game – but getting there is part of the fun.