By Kurt Kalata and Natabuu

Rock and roll is the universal language of rebellion. Whether it be decrying misdirected war efforts or proclaiming that we, in fact, don't need no education, rock has been a continual crusade against the establishment.

With the popularity of Street Fighter II back in 1991, dozens of developers came up with their own clones - Fighter's History from Data East, Deadly Moves from Kaneko, Sega with Eternal Champions, Nintendo with Killer Instinct, Gametek with Brutal...the list goes on and on. Few of these clones ever garnered any success, and the only true competitor turned out to be SNK, with its popular franchises like Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and their magnum opus, King of Fighters. After the craze died down in the mid 90s and gamers focused on 3D games like Tekken and Virtua Fighter, Capcom and SNK were the only guys on the blocks for more than a few years - at least, the only guys that were taken seriously.

And then came Guilty Gear.

Guilty Gear was a brash upstart, bringing on a revolution against the complacency that had become the 2D fighting game scene.. Designed by an unknown company called Arc System Works, Guilty Gear bypasses the arcades entirely and released straight to the Playstation. Its rough character designs were a far cry from the smooth 2D sprites of other games, and its unrefined heavy metal soundtrack sounded like a garage brand production. Nearly the entire game was the brainchild of a jack-of-all-trades named Daisuke Ishiwatari, who not only designed Guilty Gear, but drew the artwork, composed the music, and even did some of the voices. Despite its grassroots demeanor, Guilty Gear was a fresh spark of imagination in a field that was beginning to stagnate.

Guilty Gear feels like an SNK game - it's most easily compared to Samurai Shodown, another weapon's based fighter. It also holds a lot in common with Darkstalkers, as its bizarre characters and outlandish attacks seem at least partially inspired by Capcom's movie monster tribute. There are four attack buttons - one punch, one kick, and the other two for weapon attacks. Nearly all of the characters have a wide variety of dashes and double jumps, instilling a sense of blazing speed. Combos are incredibly easy to pull off, and various cancel moves allow even lengthier chains on high-level play. Despite all of the flashiness, there's a surprising amount of depth to be found. Almost all of the characters are completely unique and have a huge variety of special moves, at least compared to Capcom fighters.

Like most fighting games, there's an extremely threadbare plot in order to tie everything together. As the manual states, it's the 22nd century, and humans have created a series of biological weapons known as "Gears". Eventually gaining sentient thought, the Gears rise up against humanity and declare war. To fight back, the Sacred Order of Knights was created to wage a holy war against the insurgents. Tournaments are held to hunt down and find the leader of potentially dangerous Gears. Naturally, you would never know any of this unless you read the manuals - the post-fight quotes barely make any allusions to it, and the Story Mode featured in the later games borders on nonsensical.

Characters:

Sol Badguy
Yeah, yeah, his name is ridiculous. But beneath that juvenile name is (literally) a monster waiting to emerge. Sol fights with fire and a strange sword that appears to be completely rectangular. His real name is "Freddie", named after the Queen frontman, and his headband bears the words "Rock you!"

Ky Kiske
Ky is the good guy to Sol's bad guy-ness. They're bitter rivals, which we know because there's a unique music track when they duel. This French knight attacks with lightning and likes to collect tea cups in his spare time.

May
This junior pirate lass carries an anchor that appears to be bigger than she is. As a result, May is rather slow, but commands a squadron of aquatic life to aid her in battle.

Millia Rage
Millia has hair. Lots and lots and lots of hair, which she uses with devastating results. She can whip it, jab with it, create shields or even ride it.

Zato1 / Eddie
A monstrous demon who attacks with a vicious black shadow. His name is a Japanese put - "1" in Japanese is "ichi", and when pronounced together, we get "Zatoichi", the name of a samurai movie. When Zato1's voice actor died, the designers changed the character's name to Eddie, the name of the parasite controlling the body.

Potemkin
The Potemkin was a huge battleship, and this guy's no shrimp either. The requisite slow-but-strong grappler, Potemkin can dish and take damage like no one else.

Chipp Zanuff
Chipp is a blisteringly fast ninja character, who can bounce off the ways, turn invisible, and slit his opponents throat at a moments notice.

Dr. Baldhead / Faust
A freakishly tall doctor who wields an enormous scalpel. After the original Guilty Gear, he dons a paperbag over his head and calls himself Faust. He seems to have a bit of a Mary Poppins fetish, as he enters and leaves fights with a flying umbrella.

Baiken
Baiken is a female version of Rurouni Kenshin (the badass one from the OVAs, not the wuss from the TV show.) For having only one eye and one arm, she's pretty damn good with a sword. Although she was a hidden boss in the original Guilty Gear, she since became a standard character from then on.

Jam Kuradoberi
Jam is Guilty Gear's version of Chun Li. With dazzling speed, she can fly across the screen, then flip kick them in mid air. She's basically dressed in a waitress uniform.

Johnny
Johnny is the captain of May's pirate ship. With a debonair attitude, Johnny builds up special attacks by tossing coins at his opponents. His single sword slashes are deadly.

Axl Low
Axl is apparently a person from modern times (England to be precise) who feel through a time portal and ended up in Guilty Gear's world. Other than looking a bit like Billy Kane, Axl attacks with a vicious chain and sickle.

Anji Mito
Anji attacks with fans. That may not sound impressive, but these are pretty big, pretty deadly fans we're talking about.

Venom
A strange dude behind a mask of his own hair. But we do know that he wields a pool cue and attacks with billiard balls. Not what one would think as ominous, but he's quite deadly. Also has a thing for Zato.

Testament
One of the recurring sub-bosses, Testament is like a goth-punk version of the Grim Reaper, complete with red sickle and a succubus companion. He can also call demons to attack from the front or behind.

Dizzy
The main boss of Guilty Gear X, Dizzy is one of May's crew members that is, in fact, a Gear. Wearing a skimpy black leather outfit, Dizzy has two angels that possess her, both with unique attacks. She also has a gigantic lizard tale, and is apparently a mere three years old.

Slayer
A crazy vampire dude with a pipe and a smoking hot wife. Although he lacks a weapon, he's fast and has a way with his fists. For one of his special attacks, he recites a haiku which totally destroys his foe. Quite odd.

I-No
I-No is the major boss of Guilty Gear X2, a demonic witch clad in red leather who wields one mean guitar. She is mostly known for ripping off her top at the end of battle. If you're bored and/or lonely, see if you can spot the nip slips.

Zappa
Zappa is a regular person who has unfortunately been possessed by a rather unpleasant poltergeist. His body bends in weird ways, so it's hard to judge his movements, but he can summon floating swords and spirits, and can even vomit on people.

Bridget
First things first - Bridget is a dude. Still think he's hot? That's okay - everyone is gay for Bridget. Regardless, Bridget attacks with his yo-yo, which can be used to set up traps and hit his opponents in the back. He also has a nasty teddy bear that can be summoned into battle.

Robo Ky
Robo Ky was initially just introduced as a rip off of Ky, complete with a sickly, distorted version of his theme song. In Guilty Gear X2 #Reload, he becomes a unique character with lots of bizarre attacks, including extending boxing gloves and bazookas. He's also a customizable character in Guilty Gear Isuka.

A.B.A.
A.B.A. was introduced in Guilty Gear Isuka. A rather depressed looking girl dressed in bandages. A.B.A. attacks with a gigantic key, who appears to have a mind of its own. She enters "Power Mode" by using blood packets, essentially sapping her own life force.

Justice
This nasty looking mech/lizard thing is the main boss of the original Guilty Gear. She (!!) shows up as an unlockable character in the later games, but doesn't do much else.

Kliff
Kliff is a very old (and very buff) old man who wields a stupendously huge blade. Much like Justice, he's a character from the original Guilty Gear that has kinda been tossed by the wayside, as he was technically killed in the original game.

Leopaldon
I don't know what the hell this thing is, other than being the final boss of Isuka. Due to Leopaldon's size, you can't actually play as him (it?) in single player, although it's a bonus player in versus mode.

Order Sol
This is Sol as he appeared nine years before the events of Guilty Gear X, when he was in the Holy Order with Ky and Kliff. In addition to a mostly different moveset, he has a special Level meter which he can use to power-up any of his special attacks and Overdrives. Instead of an Instant Kill, he has an Overdrive combo which can take off up to half of the opponent's life bar and can only be executed under certain conditions and with precise timing. It's pretty complicated - Geese Howard would be so proud.

Guilty Gear absolutely revels in excess, with huge characters wielding even bigger weapons. And naturally, a lot of it is just plain goofy - where else can you find characters wielding pool cues or guitars? This bizarre cast may be off-putting who prefer their games completely straightlaced, but it's an all-out rebellion towards fighting game stereotypes, both in style and mechanics.

Of course, what would a rock and roll game be without a heavy metal soundtrack? Guilty Gear tosses aside the pussy rock of today's whiny emo kids and the "hardcore" thrash crap of goth wannabes, and returns to the glory days of the 80s, back when Iron Maiden ruled supreme, Metallica was still awesome, and little kids worshipped the likes of Dio. 80s heavy metal kinda got a bad rap with all of the retarded glitz and glamour, hence the rather derogatory terms "hair metal" or "buttrock". Guilty Gear takes the wailing guitars and makes rockin like Dokken awesome again. You see, when you remove all of the lyrics, you get pure badassery, instead of some loser whining about roses and thorns. It's almost surprising that so few games feature rock music, because it goes perfectly with the frantic pace - by comparison, only a scant few Neo Geo fighters really rock out. And from an audio standpoint, Guilty Gear blows its competition out of the water - whether it be the trashy techno of Capcom vs SNK or the ear-piercing jazz of Marvel vs Capcom 2 or the vomit inducing rap of Street Fighter 3. Suffice to say, Guilty Gear has some of the best video game music of its kind.

While the first Guilty Gear was decent, the series hit its stride with its sequel, Guilty Gear X. Since then, every game afterward has just added and tweaked from there. However, there are a few spin-off games that take the game in different directions, like the four-player brawling of Guilty Gear Isuka.

Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear X

Guilty Gear X

Guilty Gear X

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX Slash

On to Page 2

Back to the index