Guilty Gear (1998) - PSOne


American Cover

Japanese Cover

Guilty Gear

The Playstation had a terrible time handling 2D fighters. Early arcade ports like Marvel Super Heroes and Samurai Shodown 3 were atrocious, burdened with long load times, choppy animation and heaps of slowdown. Almost all of these were arcade ports, and the poor system just couldn't handle it. Enter Guilty Gear, one of the only 2D fighters made specifically for the PSOne. Featuring quick load times, smooth scaling and decent animation, Guilty Gear proved that you didn't need a Saturn to play good 2D fighters.

Compared to Capcom and SNK fighters, however, Guilty Gear comes off as a little unrefined. There are ten characters total, a decent roster for a new franchise, but a little lacking compared to the competition. There's no difficulty level select for the single player mode, resulting in one player matches that are either too easy or too hard. But one of the biggest problems with Guilty Gear is the insta-kill. Each character has a move that will completely obliterate their opponents, causing them to lose the entire match. They aren't terribly hard to execute, and they're a bitch to dodge. In short, it ends up becoming way too cheap, and the delicate balance that the best fighting games maintain is totally lost.

In spite of this, Guilty Gear still showed enough imagination to make it a cult hit amongst gamers, and much of this was due to the soundtrack. While the music, much like the game, is a little raw, there are plenty of excellent compositions.

MP3s

Conclusion
Holy Orders - Be Just or Be Dead
In Slave's Glory
March of the Wicked Kind

Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear X / Guilty Gear X Plus (2001) - Arcade / Dreamcast / Playstation 2 / PC


American Guilty Gear X Cover

Japanese Guilty Gear X Plus Cover

Guilty Gear X

Though Guilty Gear was an underground hit, it didn't exactly take off. Its sequel, Guilty Gear X, was first released in the arcades, and elevated the series to popularity. The most notable difference are the gorgeous high-res sprites - the entire cast has been completely redrawn to take advantage of the Naomi hardware, and the result is one of the best looking 2D fighters ever made. While the arcade soundtrack uses weak synth guitars, all of the home versions features is completely rearranged to use live guitars, which sounds much cleaner than its predecessor. There are a few songs from the original Guilty Gear, but most of the music is completely new.

The gameplay itself is much more refined as well. Most importantly, the insta-kills have been drastically toned down, making them much less useful. This time, you need to hit all of the buttons to activate the insta-kill mode, which slowly saps your tension gauge. If your attack misses - which it most often will, since they're easily blockable - then you lose the ability to use super moves for the rest of match. Even if the insta-kill connects and your opponents is "Destroyed!", they only lose the round and not the whole match. There are still lots of amusing attacks, but they're more for show than for anything useful gameplay-wise.

There are lots of little tweaks and additions to the fighting system. You can perform air combos, similar to the Capcom Vs. games. There's lots of opportunities to juggle your foe, but they're easy escapable if you're playing against someone who isn't a total noob. A rather neat feature is the "Faultless Defense", which nullifies blocking damage while slowly sapping your tension gauge. Guilty Gear X promotes offensive play, both by limiting your blocking and depleting your tension gauge if you retreat too often. All of the little tweaks and balances that have cultimated in ten years have come together in Guilty Gear X, and that's one of the reasons why it's so awesome.

Guilty Gear X also introduces several new characters into the fold - Jam Kuradoberi, Johnny, Venom, Anji, and Dizzy, the new final boss. Baiken, the secret character from the first game, returns as a regular character, and Dr. Baldhead now wears a paperbag over his head and calls himself Faust. Kliff and Justice are gone entirely.

While Guilty Gear X is an excellent fighting game, the home ports are a little slim on options. Arc System Works was smart enough to include a difficulty select this time, but Dizzy is still ridiculously difficult, even on the lowest setting. There's no story mode, and the endings are just a simple still picture with a credit roll. Almost all of the succeeding versions of Guilty Gear are improvements on this, so there's little reason to check it out, unless you really like the music arrangements.

After the arcade release, Guilty Gear X was ported to the Dreamcast. While this version never left Japan, it was later ported to the Playstation 2 for American release. Shortly thereafter, Guilty Gear X Plus came out for the Japanese PS2. Not only did this feature a Story mode, but it added in Kliff and Justice, the two characters from the original Guilty Gear that were initially omitted from GGX. Also included as a preorder bonus was a fully animated three minute clip showing different characters from the series. Some characters (like May) are voiced in Japanese, but others (like Sol and Ky) are voiced in English, and sound laughably bad.

MP3s

Fatal Duel (Arcade version)
Fatal Duel
Holy Orders - Be Just or Be Dead
Still in the Dark
Awe of She

Guilty Gear X

Guilty Gear X

Guilty Gear X

Guilty Gear X

Guilty Gear XX / Guilty Gear X2 (2003) - Arcade/Playstation 2


American Cover

Japanese Cover

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear X2 isn't QUITE a gigantic leap - it's closer to being "Guilty Gear X Champion Edition" than a true sequel - but it does notably improve on its predecessor. The biggest addition are four new characters - Bridget, I-No, Zappa and Slayer. Other than these guys, some old ones get new moves, and some others are rebalanced a bit. There are a few new backgrounds for the new characters, and almost all of the old ones have been altered to take place at different times of day. The opening intro is far better, with extraordinarily impressive animation. But otherwise, the rest of the tweaks are pretty minor. The "Dust" attack - where you hit your opponent into the air to begin an aerial combo - has been assigned to a separate button. Also new is the "Burst" gauge. By pressing the "Dust" button and an attack button, your character will jump into the air and unleash a small blast of energy. Not only can this be used for escaping combos attacks, but if you manage to hit your opponent at the right time, it will fill you tension gauge to the max.

There's also far more in the way of single player options. There's a story mode very similar to the one in Guilty Gear X Plus, although with a new plot, and Sammy was nice enough to leave the voices in Japanese. The "M.O.M," mode is a variation on the normal Survival matches, which focuses on collecting medals that pop out of the opponent as you beat them. And the Challenge mode has a ton of predetermined matchups under varying conditions. Beating the Mission Mode is really the only way to unlock most of the extra character artwork, although the anime short from GGX Plus is unlocked from the beginning.

All of the music has once again been rearranged, this time using real drums to replace the synthesized beats of Guilty Gear X. I tend to prefer the old music, but they're still decent, and there are several new tracks for the new characters. There's a whole new announcer too, who's much cooler than the previous chap. Once again, the only real complaint is how difficult and cheap I-No can be at the end of the game. Good luck with that.

MP3s

Noontide
Nothing Out of the Ordinary
The Midnight Carnival

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear X2

Guilty Gear X2 #Reload / Guilty Gear XX #Reload (2004) - Arcade/ Playstation 2 / Xbox/ PC/ PSP


American Xbox Cover

Japanese Xbox Cover

Japanese PS2 Cover

Guilty Gear XX # Reload (pronounced "Sharp Reload") is really just an incremental improvement to the formula. Aesthetically, the only thing different is the Burst meter, which has been redesigned. Some of the characters have been rebalanced (most notably, Johnny has been toned down), and Robo Ky has been turned into a completely unique character, instead of just a variation of Ky. Other than that, the differences are minimal, and are really only meant for hardcore players. The Japanese Playstation 2 release is pretty bare bones, but the Xbox version - published by Majesco in America at a budget price - introduced Xbox Live online play. A PSP version was also released seperately in Japan, and was included in the American version of Guilty Gear Judgement. A Windows version was also released in Japan and Korea.

The most radical release was, oddly enough, the Korean Playstation 2 release. This version of #Reload includes a completely new soundtrack, composed by popular Korean artist Shin Hae Chul. Though the music is all synth (much like the original arcade soundtrack), but it's still excellent. Stylistically it's a bit different from the normal Guilty Gear music, and some of it is quite weird - Baiken's theme, which traditionally used the shamisen as its main instrument, now starts off with the sound of race cars. However, you can opt to use the original soundtrack, and toggle the voices/text between Japanese and Korean. This also got a rather nice limited edition release, which comes in a tin package and includes the two disc soundtrack set.

MP3s (All Korean Version)

Pillars of the Underworld
Child of the Wild
The Great Empress
Dance of the Behemoth
The Midnight Carnival

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

Guilty Gear XX #Reload

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