Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R ReviewOmar Elaasar
"HEAVEN OR HELL. LET'S ROCK!"
With that battle cry the duel begins. A rock opera channeled through hyper future battles of swords and sorcery. It's been over ten years the original release of Guilty Gear XX and in the meantime fighting games have returned from a small niche back into the spotlight and anime has become an international success. Considering that and all of the bizarre situations and characters that anime and fighting games have introduced it can be initially difficult to realize how much effort Aksys has put into giving their games, particularly Guilty Gear, such an offbeat and standout sense of style. Even ten years later in a genre where we can see wizened old martial artists teaming up with bears to fight body morphing, fire breathing yogis Guilty Gear still manages to stay unique in its designs with boy nuns fighting with yo-yos and nine foot tall paper bag wearing doctors (shades of the Dark Knight's Scarecrow) wielding a giant scalpel Yoshimitsu style. Everything from the announcer's battle cries to the characters and the rabbit hole mess of obtuse terminology surrounding the technical aspects of the game makes an effort to be flatout unique from other fighters. It's one of Guilty Gear's most endearing qualities, which has let it prosper for so long, yet it's also part of the reason that the game has remained so inaccessible for many.
Guilty Gear XX Infinite Subtitle is the latest of the entries in the continually refined Guilty Gear formula. The fact that Guilty Gear has yet to have a proper sequel but has still remained relevant should tell you all you need to know about the core gameplay. This edition still has those core systems intact and well represented. Technically, the port is solid and brings over GGXX's expressive spritework and smooth gameplay without a hitch, and makes a great fit for the Vita's OLED screen and snappy d-pad. Prospective players might be disappointed to see that the game is still locked into it's native 4:3 aspect ratio with no changes made to fit it better to the Vita's widescreen display. The director noted that the team attempted to move it to widescreen but found that it worked against Guilty Gear's core gameplay of continued aggressive assault, so there are legitimate gameplay concerns behind the choice, but it remains a bit disappointing nonetheless.
As far as what's new in this version...well there's not much, at least for the casual player. The core modes and gameplay are the same as 2008's Accent Core Plus but this update brings extensive balance changes. Various properties of characters have been tweaked, changes have been made to player attacks and some new moves have been given to certain characters to allow them to approach situations differently. Two characters who were previously found to be overpowered have also returned and become tournament legal as well. As far as the overall changes this version is less like a "Super" Street Fighter update and more in line with the work Capcom has done for the Arcade Edition or the Street Fighter II HD remake.
Unfortunately, for those who have experienced previous versions of GGXX and simply want to casually jump back in this doesn't make this game a very appealing prospect. While it undoubtedly is an uncompromised version of the latest update in the series, the PSP version of #Reload has been available in the PSN store for less for a while now (I myself would be playing it had I not bought the package with Guilty Gear Judgement, which strangely isn't Vita compatible despite the regular version being so). While competitive players will no doubt appreciate the updates to the game systems that Accent Core and R brought, casual players will be hard pressed to see the difference. It still lacks even the most basic tutorial to explain the various and deep reaching mechanics, and the digital manual that it comes with doesn't bother to even let you know they exist. There is still a steep uphill climb from button mashing to playing skillfully and it still requires that you spend hours going back and forth from reading wikis to practicing them without any proper feedback. The most egregious mistake of this version, however is not the lack of new content or continued inaccessibility but the lack of any online play. While I prefer to judge games solely on what exists in the package and not what could have, the lack of an online mode in a fighter, given the Vita's online capabilities, is a serious oversight, especially since it's been noted that the game was initially advertised as having one.
This leaves this version in a difficult place. Casual players will be hard pressed to find a reason to pick up this game if they have already played a previous version (especially if they have bought Accent Core Plus vanilla) and competitive players will be limited to playing local multiplayer (an unlikely prospect considering the Vita's penetration rate and the niche appeal of competitive fighters) or simply have to practice timing and combos and theorycraft alone. Considering that the console versions of Accent Core have online play, allow you to use an arcade stick or fightpad if you prefer, cost the same amount and will possibly be getting this latest update for free, it seems like a much better prospect to simply wait for the update to drop for the console version and pick it up then. This version is also lacking any Cross Buy option, which makes sense considering the differences between this update and the previous version, at least for now, but it also means that you'll essentially have to eventually buy the game twice in order to play online with others and be able to play on the go. Unless something changes with future updates, Accent Core Plus R is currently looking like an option that doesn't do enough to satisfy the casual or competitive crowd. A solid game at it's core, wrapped in a less than appealing package.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
Omar Elaasar is an hobbyist artist, writer, and game developer, and is dedicated to playing obscure games in order to maintain his status as a most pretentious hipster.
About the Author: Omar Elaasar
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