Even though the Guilty Gear series has been occupying the fighting game scene for a long time, it's never garnered the same fan base as mainstream franchises like Street Fighter and Dead or Alive. Despite its niche appeal, Guilty Gear is still one of my favorites when it comes to fighting games and it's always great to pick up the latest addition to the series and give it a spin. With the original Guilty Gear XX Accent Core having been released in 2007, ARC System Works has once again brought its quirky fighter to the states in the form of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus. This version is extremely similar to its predecessor but packs in a few new modes, two characters that had been sorely missed in the original and more of the fast, frantic gameplay that series veterans have come to love.
Accent Core Plus, like many of the other recent Guilty Gear games, is really just a revised edition of the original Guilty Gear XX that hit the US more than five years ago. Accent Core Plus is a 2D, one-on-one fighter that emphasizes fast movement (both horizontal and vertical) as well as flashy, smoothly animated special moves. All the characters in Guilty Gear have a shared set of normal moves to take advantage of. Punch is mapped to the Square button, kick to the X button, Slash to the Triangle button and Heavy Slash to the Circle button. A powerful "Dust attack" can be executed by tapping the R trigger. Special moves can be performed by combining these standard attacks with various directional inputs, like the classic fireball motion on the D-pad.
Ky is dreamy.
Every fighter in Accent Core Plus can also perform a Faultless Defense (fancy way of saying "shield") and other techniques that drain their Tension Gauge, which fills up during battle as you fight aggressively. Gamers comfortable with the Guilty Gear formula will find this all very familiar, as this is the same system that has been in place countless times before and it still works really well.
Guilty Gear is, at the end of the day, an extremely responsive, enjoyable fighter. The pacing of the combat has always been a huge part of my love for the series, as players are never standing still and dashing around the screen is an absolute must. But perhaps more rewarding than the high-action gameplay is seeing all the familiar faces return once again to the ring. In the Guilty Gear universe, I still think there's at least one character for everybody. Whether you stick with the standard speed and versatility of the fiery Sol and electrically-charged Ky or the over-powered blows of Potemkin, there are numerous gameplay styles to practice and master in Guilty Gear. Just like other high-quality 2D fighters, a player could feasibly spend weeks learning a single character's play style, but you're by no means forced to do so.
Accent Core Plus features a refined Survival mode that lets you level-up as you go, as well as the return of Mission mode, Story mode and the emergence of team-based matches. Mission mode tasks you with completing specific objectives in isolated matches, while Story mode follows the (convoluted) tale of one character through a series of battles. Like previous Guilty Gear titles, the Story mode relies on straight-forward dialogue sequences where character portraits slide back and forth across the screen. Nothing too fancy there and the plot points can be confusing at best, but the world of Guilty Gear is still terribly interesting to me. Perhaps it's my love for all things anime, but the intrigue involving a race of biological weapons (Gears) and the people connected to them is still quite potent. And the clashes between characters like Sol and Ky or Dizzy and Justice makes for great melodrama.
The aforementioned team matches let you pick three characters to face off against another group of three. There's no real-time tagging or anything like that. Just a survival/elimination style affair that adds to the experience.
Besides the new modes, Kliff and Justice return to the Guilty Gear roster to make this, arguably, the most complete lineup of the series. As I'm a pretty big Justice fan, I was happy to see her come back as she is laughably overpowered and fun to use. This means you and your friends will probably avoid her when playing seriously, but having her there is still a great distraction.
But Accent Core Plus is the same content we've seen time and time again. Same characters, same moves and even the same cinematic opening as Accent Core. The gameplay is solid and I'm sure hardcore fans will happily buy a copy, but by now I feel like I'm ready to move on. I'd be more than happy to play more Guilty Gear, but not another one based on XX. Then again, this might be the last XX iteration ever made, so that's a distinct possibility.
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