Guilty Gear X (Available on SEGA Dreamcast, and PlayStation 2)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Publisher: Sammy Corporation
Developer: ARC System Works
Dreamcast Release Date: December 14th, 2000 (Japan-only)
PlayStation 2 Release Date: October 2nd, 2001 (North America)
Parent Talk: While the Japanese version obviously wasn’t rated by the ESRB, the PS2 version was and it earned a T for teen rating because of animated blood and violence. As I’ve said in the past, all 2D fighters feature violence and a lot of them feature animated blood as well. There’s nothing too over the top though. Mortal Kombat this isn’t.
Plays Like: This one-on-one, four-button fighter is very easy to pick up and play. It features only the bare-bones gameplay modes you’d expect from an arcade fighter. It’s button-masher friendly, yet advanced enough that skilled players will easily find a lot to sink their teeth into.
Review Basis: Played the PlayStation 2 version quite a lot when it hit the scene in 2001, but this was the first time I had experienced the Dreamcast version. I played through the arcade mode, and tried a few local multiplayer matches.
Fighting games are the Dreamcast’s bread and butter. They’re the one genre that the system excelled at. It’s pretty obvious too, as there are tons of classic fighters on the system that are still being played today. The problem is that Dreamcast owners want to get the very best out of their system, and as such tend to use the VGA adapter to bump the resolution to a glorious 640×480 progressive, or 480p. Why is that a problem, well mainly because Capcom’s fighters, while VGA compatible, look extremely pixelated while in VGA mode because their native resolution is so much lower than what is actually being displayed. Guilty Gear X changed all of that, because it was designed with 480p in mind, and as a result was the very best looking 2D videogame ever created at the time of its release. ARC System Works showed Capcom up, and no one saw that coming.
The graphics were, and still are the biggest highlight of Guilty Gear X. People don’t realize just how huge of a leap forward this game was when it came out. With an equipped-VGA adapter the colors were crisper, sharper, and more stunning than any other 2D game. Animation, rain, and even small details like leaves blowing in the wind were a real sight to behold. Fast forward 13 years and the game remains impressive, and holds up better than any other 2D Dreamcast fighter while using the VGA adapter. The sense of style is also fantastic. The only downside is when characters are too far from one another and the background scales back. This causes some minor distortion, but it can be excused because of how well everything else turned out.
+ Simple to get into fighting mechanics. With only four-buttons (Punch, Kick, Slash, and Heavy Slash) new players to the genre won’t have any problems getting right into the thick of things. Cycling through combos is much easier than in most other fighters, allowing players to appear better at the game than they really are. Air juggling is also heavily featured thanks to the simple combo strings. There are also super moves which require the use of the tension gauge, and even an instant death move that can be pretty tricky to actually land. More advanced techniques include aerial attacks that work similar to that of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 where you can get some major air and continue or begin an impressive combo. There’s also a robust cancel system in place once you get used to the overall mechanics.
+ The move sets are somewhat limited compared to other fighters out there, but that allows you to easily memorize all your favorite characters’ moves. This also encourages players to experiment with some of the more advanced techniques.
+ Great cast of unique characters. Every character feels completely different than the last.
+ The rocking soundtrack is one of those love it or hate it things. I’m in the camp that thinks it rocks, literally.
+/- Limited gameplay modes. If you’re expecting more than just your typical arcade, versus, training, and survival modes, you might be disappointed. There is a fun Recording mode which allows you to save some of your best moves to the VMU, although its use is fairly limited.
+/- About the only real downfall, if you can all it that, is that Guilty Gear X doesn’t try to do anything particularly new. It plays it fairly safe, and doesn’t really try to do too many new things.
Guilty Gear X will forever be remembered for its incredible graphics, tight gameplay, and rocking soundtrack. Sure it’s not the most technical fighter ever released, but it’s still very fun to play, and in my book that counts for a lot. If you’re looking for a fighter you can easily pick up, both the Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2 versions are excellent choices.
Final Score: 8/10