The original Guilty Gear launched onto the fighting game scene 20 years ago. At the time, fighting games were common place with the likes of Mortal Kombat, Tekken and King of Fighters being around. Guilty Gear however still managed to set itself apart from the crowd with highly technical combat featuring gorgeous hand-drawn 2D sprites and a fist-pumping soundtrack.
Guilty Gear’s roster of characters was quite limited at only 13 playable characters but this didn’t hinder its success. Over time the franchise grew and more characters were added to the fray, eventually leading to the current roster available in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R.
The original Guilty Gear game makes up the first half of the 20th anniversary package available on Nintendo Switch and to be honest, this isn’t the title most people are picking the pack up for. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is the true star of the 20th anniversary pack but we’ll get to that shortly.
As mentioned above, the original Guilty Gear features 10 playable characters with 3 hidden unlockable characters. The game still plays just as great now as it did back in the day and this is largely due to its solid fighting game mechanics. The game’s anime aesthetic still holds up and while it’s obviously dated in terms of its effects and graphical prowess, it doesn’t look bad at all.
Guilty Gear’s fighting mechanics involve the use of punches, kicks and slashes. Stringing together combos is a work of art and the fact that there’s a tension gauge in the bottom corner of the screen adds to the fast paced gameplay. Tension in Guilty Gear is key to winning since the Tension gauge fills faster if you press the attack on your opponent. Tension is used to perform special attacks and is thus extremely important to monitor in battle. Retreat and block and the gauge won’t fill and you’ll be left wide open for high powered attacks from your opponent while their tension gauge increases.
Guilty Gear’s one hit kill attacks also add a very unique flavour to the game since at any point, either yourself or your opponent will be able to pull these off with a little bit of luck and skill. These attacks are spectacular to witness and pulling them off is incredibly satisfying. Guilty Gear while being a barebones re-release that’s scant on extra content is still a great game and will remain a cult classic because of its fun gameplay.
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R however, is where the 20th Anniversary Pack truly shines, especially since it is the most complete entry in the Guilty Gear franchise before the change over to the Xrd series of games. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R features 8 modes in total including survival, arcade and story modes and there’s enough content to keep you busy for hours and hours on end even by just playing the game as a single player. The story mode is still about as nonsensical as it comes but nevertheless it is fun. By nonsensical we mean this in the true sense of the word since an example of one story mode involves Jam defeating enemies to force them to eat at her restaurant and support her financially. It’s the kind of silly over the top content expected from some forms of Japanese media and we’re extremely glad it exists since it’s quite enjoyable to say the least.
The core gameplay from Guilty Gear is expanded upon extensively in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R with the total roster of playable characters rising to 25. The fight mechanics have also been tweaked and balanced for more competitive play. Gattling combos, dust attacks and roman cancels abound and pulling off special moves feels a lot easier than in the original game thanks to the changes made to the fighting mechanics.
The game does feature an online versus mode but unfortunately we never tried this out. With that said, given the franchises popularity and the fact that the Nintendo Switch runs the game with absolutely no hiccups or stutter, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a healthy fighting game community ready and willing to do battle via Nintendo’s online service. Whether this service delivers a smooth fighting experience though, we cannot say.
Graphically, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is gorgeous with the anime aesthetic being far more detailed than the original game in the saga. Effects have also been amped up and pulling off special attacks is a visual feast. Combine this with the game’s standard soundtrack and the special South Korean composed one and you’re in for an auditory as well as visual treat.
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R also lets you change the game to previous version removing the “Plus R” tweaks and balances. This essentially changes the game completely and makes fights play out quite differently.
Overall, the Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition is a great value purchase and a great way to get two of history’s most iconic fighting games in one sweet package. The game runs buttery smooth on Nintendo Switch and there is zero stutter or frame rate drops even when the fights get extremely flashy. If you haven’t played a Guilty Gear game before, this is also a great way to get into the franchise.