Joining the pantheon of games with silly long names is Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus. The version recently released on XBLA and PSN is a port of the similarly titled fourth version, Guilty Gear XX, itself the third entry in the Guilty Gear (GG) series. That marks a lot of evolution of the franchise that burst onto the PlayStation fighting game scene in 1998. What role does this newly released version serve, and is it worth your time and money?
Let me start by saying I come to this review with quite a bit of time spent playing fighting games, but only a little invested in Guilty Gear. I am familiar with most fighting game series, but I do not claim high-level mastery of the mechanics and combos. I play fighting games often, but casually.
For the uninitiated, Guilty Gear is a 2D fighting game with unique character design and an equally absurd focus on complex combos and high-level technical fighting mechanics. A franchise known for its bombastic heavy metal tendencies and quirky anime badass stylings, Guilty Gear from Arc System Works set the stage for the developer’s more recent fighters including BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena. Guilty Gear is a well-respected series and XX Accent Core Plus is one of the most refined entries in the series to date.
Guilty Gear boasts some of the most hyperactive gameplay of any fighting title on the market. To complement the basic four-button moveset (consisting of punch, kick, slash, and heavy slash), numerous layers of gameplay have been added in. These run the gamut of offensive and defensive techniques that require significant practice and technical execution. These include double jumps and air dashes that help create space, and a bevy of mechanics such as Roman cancels, parries, reversals, air and ground attacks that must be mastered to excel at GG.
With the fluid and responsive system in place, many of these moves can be linked together in creative, devastating and flashy ways. Even better is that many of the characters have wholly unique move sets that take advantage of these various systems in wildly different ways. There is nothing in this port to detract from the Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus experience that players of the 2008 original remember. All the moves that I could do worked when I tried them, and I never felt there was any slowdown in the game or that there were any moments where inputs were not executed as expected. Simply put, if you have played GGXXACP before, there’s nothing wrong with this version.
These complexly layered movesets fuel an aggressive and flashy fighting game. Guilty Gear rewards offensive and high level play, which is a large part of why it has maintained its prestige and relevance even though no new original entry in the series has been released in years. Beyond just rewarding those who dedicate themselves to Guilty Gear, this game is surprisingly enjoyable to pick up and play, even for novices. As an extremely low level GG player, I still found the fast pace exciting within fifteen minutes of starting. I certainly wasn’t executing or even understanding the relevance of many of the systems, but there is enough going on that a grasp of fighting game fundamentals is enough to have. Moreover, the characters and movesets are so unique in style and animation, and play out so differently, that many hours can be sunk into the game just trying out all the possibilities, even if each is only experienced at a fundamental level. There is much to see and do in GGXXACP.
Since there is so much to take in while playing Guilty Gear, it’s a good thing that the animation quality and art style are as good as they are unique and varied. Guilty Gear is a beautiful 2D fighter, and the smoothness and quirkiness of the characters still holds up. The metal infused, crazy, inventive characters, the music (which is rather excellent) and pop ups that link together with the rock and roll theme give the game a cohesive feel that keeps some of the excessive variety from feeling too random.
It’s unfortunate that the beauty of this game wasn’t fully modernized. There is a missed opportunity in the decision to maintain the 4:3 format. Sprites occasionally pixilate as they move about the screen, which looks somewhat awkward in juxtaposition with the rest of the smooth visuals. Still, this is really no more than a blemish on GG’s beautiful face. It reminded me of the early days of scaling with the much lauded Sega 32X. Shudder. Make no mistake, this is not an HD remaster, but a port of a fine fighting game.
This version of Guilty Gear comes packed with gameplay modes to keep the invested fighter busy for a long time. Given the dedication it takes to makster GG’s fighting system, this is quite a good thing. Whether you are looking for modes in which to hone your skills, or are just looking for additional ways to enjoy GG having accepted that you will never be “good” at the game, there is much to explore. The menu is not particularly inviting, but it does give you access to practice, survival, story, mission and arcade modes. There is also the M.O.M mode, in which you beat money out of your opponents that you can then collect and use to level up, and a bare bones, reasonably lag-free online offering. A planned update for this title will flesh out the online mode a bit.
This version of GGXXACP is a solid port, with enough work put into the release to maintain the pedigree of the series, but not quite enough to make it definitive. If you are curious about GG, or have played it before and would like to have it readily accessible, there’s no reason not to pick this up. GG is complex and difficult to master for those who want to, but is also flashy and exciting enough to appeal to beginners or perpetually low level players like myself
If we are lucky, Arc System Works will update the game to the newest version entitled, wait for it, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R version 1.10. The R update is already slated for spring 2013, so we are well on our way to most ridiculous title ever.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.