Guilty Gear Isuka

Is the game Heaven or Hell?


The Lowdown

Pros: A fighting game with four player 2D fighting and gorgeous characters? We love it already.

Cons: This game is a mere update of Guilty Gear XX.

Purchase at Play-Asia
If any video game series is going to push the 2D fighting genre, it's going to be Sammy's Guilty Gear series. With a strong following in Japan and a niche fan base in America the Guilty Gear series has made a splash in saturated genre. If you haven't seen a Guilty Gear game before, try to imagine giant anime characters fighting each other in dramatic 2D battlefield. The unique fighting styles, excellent character design and diverse types of attacks puts Guilty Gear in a league of its own. The latest installment, Guilty Gear Isuka, adds a few new elements to expand the series.

In Guilty Gear Isuka each character starts out with two souls. Each soul fills up your life bar completely and you fight until all of the opponent's souls are gone. Underneath the life meter is your guard meter, after so many blocks it runs out and leaves your vulnerable for a few seconds. There is also a tension gauge, which lets you use a number of useful moves that are familiar to the Guilty Gear series such as the Fortress Defense, Roman Cancels and Dead Angle attacks. At a quick glance it doesn't look like there isn't much to differentiate Guilty Gear Isuka from say Street Fighter 3: Third Strike or SNK vs. Capcom Chaos. Although, if you do play this game and give it a fair chance you will see that much like Tekken, Guilty Gear Isuka has much to master.

The Guilty Gear series has always been about perfect timing. In Tekken advanced players use "just frames", exact animation frames to execute powerful attacks. The precision timing required to do moves like those are what Sammy requires players to do. Not everyone can execute a False Roman Cancel, then again it is what separates a great player from a moderate one. The sheer number of characters in the game is another thing that players can spend months to master. Each character has an entirely different style of fighting from Testament's grim reaper slashes to A.B.A.'s enormous key throwing. Since each character is so unique, with different move lists 27 different characters means there is a lot of gameplay to be had here. Guilty Gear Isuka balances the some of the exploited moves in Guilty Gear XX: Reload and Guilty Gear XX. These minor tweaks change the Guilty Gear XX series just a little bit.

The most noticeable and welcome addition to the series is the possibility of 2 versus 2 fighting. Fights now take place on two lines, one in the foreground and the other in the background. You can only attack opponents on the same line as you are and you can switch lines at anytime. Having four characters on the same time can be a little chaotic, but Sammy Studios have a few features that add polish. First of all you don't automatically turn towards an enemy. Players need to press a button to do this, which seems annoying at first. Although, soon players will find it essential to do so. The manual turn button allows you to focus on attacking one player and then quickly turn around to attack an attacker from behind. Guilty Gear Isuka also has players share "souls", instead of automatically eliminating a player that lost two of souls. This means if you partner loses both of their souls and you have one left it transfers over to your buddy. This system is works out well when playing with other people since it poises a balance between good players and excellent ones. If you want a real challenge you can do a 2 on 1 fight where two people can take on an expert player or computer. The addition of four player support instead of a standard 1 on 1 versus mode is brilliant.

Guilty Gear Isuka has excellent graphics and animations. Sammy has always made sure that Guilty Gear games ooze with style. Of course Isuka is no different from the other games in the series. The large sprites mesh well on an animated two dimensional background. Each of the characters look like they've been beautifully hand drawn. However, this will fail to impress most gamers because Guilty Gear Isuka is based on a graphics engine that is three years old. At this point the graphics just can't compare to more recent games, especially 3D ones. Another questionable graphic problem comes up in the four player mode. If all of the characters attack at once or worse jump attack at once, you'll notice slowdown. In a game where timing is everything slowdown changes the premise of the game.

Guilty Gear Isuka is truly the pinnacle of the Guilty Gear series. Take what you love from the series, the unique characters, excellent animation and amount to master. Add to that four player action and gameplay balances and you've got a hallmark fighting game.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 1

A lot of the crucial menus are in English and it doesn't take understanding another language to understand "fight".

US Bound?

We have a copy of the US game too and have been playing through it looking for differences between the two games. For starters the US version is obviously in English, which makes customizing Robo Ky II easier.  Other than that there are no special new characters to be found and there doesn't appear to be any major gameplay tweaks. It looks like the US version is essentially the same as the Japanese version of the game.

Overall

If you've never touched a Guilty Gear game before you should give the latest game, Isuka, a chance. The original two on two fighting and intense number of moves to master will quench the thirst of players looking for a good fighting game.