Our hands-on experience with the latest version of Guilty Gear X yielded favorable impressions. The gameplay and fighting mechanics are an excellent example of the classic 2D fighting-game fare. Featuring large, colorful sprites, exquisite backgrounds, and excellent special-move visual effects, Guilty Gear X is stunning. Innovative character design lends this game a flavor all its own, and if the full version of Guilty Gear X is as impressive as the preview, Sammy will definitely have a winner on its hands.
The graphics in Guilty Gear X are clean, crisp, and detailed. Arc System Works has produced some of the best-looking character sprites in the genre. Each character has a bevy of special moves, combos, and generally crazy attack forms, some of which are ludicrously colorful and flashy. Each character is equipped with a unique weapon, leading to different and exciting fighting styles. The weapons range from a blade reminiscent of a lightsaber to a huge anchor to a blunt sword that just screams "tough guy." The backgrounds are amazingly detailed and bustling with life. While the characters jump and move about, the background environments abound in lighting effects, flames, dolphins, and other oddities. When initiated, the air combos light up the screen, and the countered specials create equally flashy effects.
The gameplay is reminiscent of that of many popular 2D fighters, with a few quirks and unique aspects that set this game apart. The game sports a unique tension meter that increases based on the aggressiveness of your actions instead of the standard fighting game scheme of increasing based upon moves completed or hits scored. Dashing toward someone or jumping at them with sword swinging is rewarded, and cowardly blocking is penalized. An aggressive strategy is encouraged, as a full meter lets you utilize some of the ultra-devastating special murder-death-kill moves. The game's notorious one-hit kills are rare, as they require a full meter to pull off, but they're a veritable full-scale nuclear assault if you do get one going.
The sound effects accompanying the duels are well done. The character voices aren't overpowering, which allows the musical score to attract more attention. Between battles, a rather disturbing robotic female voice asks if you are ready and lets you know that the upcoming stage is "cool." A male robotic voice then ponders whether "heaven" or "hell" will win, and starts the battle with a Michael Buffer-ish "Let's Rock!" The effect is very cheesy, very over-the-top, and very cool.
Guilty Gear X is plenty of fun and visually unlike any other 2D fighter out there. If the other characters are as well balanced and entertaining as the three we saw, and the additional stages are as amazing, the US release of Guilty Gear X will be well worth the wait.