Guilty Gear X Preview

The original Guilty Gear turned a few heads on the PlayStation. The sequel to this acclaimed 2D fighter will hit arcades soon and eventually make its way to a next-gen console. "Heaven or hell? Let's rock!"

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With dynamic, high-energy mechanics and character design, and animation that seemed impossible on the PlayStation, Guilty Gear proved that developer Arc System Works knew a thing or two about 2D fighting. Following this success, the sequel, Guilty Gear X (pronounced Zechs), will soon enter the arcade and next-gen console markets alongside huge titles like SNK vs. Capcom and King of Fighters 2000. Will the title be able to compete? Things are looking good.

Guilty Gear X runs on the NAOMI arcade board, and it could well be the most beautiful 2D fighter yet. The one-on-one matches feature high-resolution character sprites and backgrounds, giving characters a crispness that outshines anything Capcom or SNK have thus far. Animation and special effects, strong points in the original GG, have also been kicked up a notch for the sequel. Seeing the game in action shows there's no lack of speed, either. Of course, fans of the series will be expecting no less.

So what's new in terms of gameplay? Well, a lot has changed - but many aspects of the gameplay will be familiar. Guilty Gear X still sticks to one-on-one matches, opting not to follow the current tag-battle craze. The game still features a four-button layout, air combos, cancels, and supermoves. There are a few new rules for the duel, though, the most interesting of which are the new tension gauge and the refinement of the "one-hit kill" moves that irked so many players in the first Guilty Gear. The tension gauge is the fuel for your advanced techniques, which require a chunk or all of your gauge. That's nothing new, but what's interesting is the way it's managed in the sequel. Aggressive actions like dashing will build your gauge, while defensive actions like backdashing will lower it. Overly defensive players won't have enough gauge to pull out a potentially lifesaving counterattack or lay down the impenetrable "fortress defense," which should in theory keep the matches fast, furious, and offense-oriented. Undoubtedly good news for many players, the previous title's DESTROY moves, which could end a match (both rounds) and could be used at any time, now only end one round and require a full tension meter, making them very risky to use and less likely to be abused.

An element that defines the Guilty Gear experience is the interesting (and often insane) character designs. Initially, there are 14 selectable characters, including the majority of the original cast. Some examples of this unique cast: Baiken, a one-armed, one-eyed female samurai with a trick sleeve; Faust, a 9-foot-4-inch man wielding a 6-foot scalpel; and May, a prepubescent pirate girl who fights with an anchor as big as herself and is aided by friendly sea mammals. Sound strange yet? One character named Axl bears more than a passing resemblance to the lead singer of Guns N' Roses, and one of the newcomers is a sexy chef and master of kung fu in a skimpy red outfit - you get the idea.

So will the game be as good as it looks? Guilty Gear X should hit arcades in Japan very soon, and it will make it to US arcades sometime in the future. It's not yet certain which console(s) will see the title or what special enhancements and extras the game might receive, but the Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2 are both under consideration. Keep watching the site for up-to-date news.

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