It’s hard to believe it’s been over 20 years since Arc System Works’ Guilty Gear punched and kicked its way into our hearts, and has become a fighting legacy with a number of hit games over the decades. Guilty Gear got its start on the Sony PlayStation and has continued on across a number of platforms, most recently the PlayStation 4. Now Guilty Gear makes its way to the Nintendo Switch with an anniversary edition of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R which initially debuted on the PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 six years ago.
While that may not sound as appealing to you as one of Arc System Works’ more modern releases, like Dragon Ball FighterZ or BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, hold the line for a second. Despite the game’s age there’s a lot worth celebrating here, especially considering the timeless value of Guilty Gear itself. Besides, we celebrated Street Fighter’s anniversary compilation not too long ago which is just a bit older.
Celebrating a 2D Favorite
Even with its six-year disadvantage, we can’t help but think that the timing for Guilty Gear’s release couldn’t be better. For one, it comes at a perfect opportunity to celebrate its anniversary, reminding players that we’ve had two full decades to appreciate this fun, and deep fighting series. Secondly, the Switch can always use another good brawl-a-thon for players to enjoy at home or on the go. Thus, Guilty Gear fills that option nicely.
The package actually comes with two games, another plus. Along with Accent Core Plus R’s modestly handled port, you also get a version of the classic Guilty Gear game in all its 1998 glory. That’s not to say it’s aged particularly well. You can see some of the seams with the animations here and there, but it’s a fairly suitable treat if you ever wanted to go back to the series’ humble beginnings. Besides, it’s a curious little trip back in time in case you’ve never played the original.
A Different Gameplay System For the Ages
While most games of the era relied on different punches and kicks to get the job done, Guilty Gear relies more on a system that combines simplicity and complexity. There are punches and kicks for those who want to chain together quick combos or throw off someone in a hurry, tut then there are also slash and high slash techniques. These can be utilized for deep hits or put together into special moves to take off even more energy. Then you have Dust and Respect, and once you put all of these into order, you’ll find a fluid fighting system that pays off in the long run.
Granted, one thing that’s missing from Accent Core R that takes away from its appeal is a tutorial system. Considering that BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle had this, this is a mild disappointment, but Arc System Works did fine with the port otherwise. Plus you can always dive into a quick arcade battle to get the hang of the controls. Guilty Gear is a very adaptable game – easy to learn, hard to master.
Once you get into the game, you’ll find a lot deep fighting system. This includes mastering the Tension Gauge, using Overdrive Attacks to your advantage, and perfecting your defenses. Yes, you can become so good that you might just stay untouched for an entire match.
Keep in mind, however, this is just with Accent Core R. The regular Guilty Gear is a much more basic package but also a neat little time capsule in case you feel like that blast from the past. It’s like the Super Famicom Super Dragon Ball game that was thrown in with Dragon Ball FighterZ last year. Far from the main attraction but a decent little morsel.
No matter which way you lean, the gameplay is deep and very responsive, and you’ll find that the systems respond to you wondrously, especially as you become experienced at them. Granted, you can also put together quick combos and master special moves and still have a blast with the game. However, Guilty Gear rewards those with patience and really pays off once you get into its deeper systems. It also has the extra modes, in Accent Core, to keep you going.
There are two issues, however. First, make sure you get a Pro Controller. The game is all right when it comes to using a JoyCon, but some of the special moves can be a real pain in the butt to execute with a smaller unit. It’s good for portable play when you don’t really have another choice, but try to stick with a controller as it really brings out the best in your performance.
Also, be prepared to wait a bit when it comes to online play. The game doesn’t have the best performance online at the moment. When matches do connect, it’s pure bliss, but it does have its moments. Maybe stick with offline practice with your buddies until you’re good and ready.
As for the original Guilty Gear itself, it’s just about Arcade and Versus with ten simple characters; it’s still fun if you’re yearning for those classic PlayStation days.
A Fairly Balanced Visual Package
Now, when it comes to presentation, you probably won’t find Guilty Gear XX Accent Core R to be as beautiful as Arc System Works’ more current brawlers. It’s a release from six years ago, so it’s bound to show its age in some areas.
Even so, the visuals look fantastic on a portable screen. The game doesn’t lose any of its edge, and the screen holds all of the action without missing a beat. What’s more, the speed is undeniably good, even as special moves explode on the screen. The animations are superb and fluid, and the backgrounds shine. As for playing on a normal television, the game still looks great. It’s easy to notice some little sprites on the characters and background items here and there, but overall looks fine.
Then we have the original Guilty Gear. This game…won’t win any awards. That’s because Arc System Works opted to keep its original PlayStation coding intact, and it shows. It is kind of a nostalgic trip watching these characters go, and the backgrounds do look pretty good for a 20-year old game. It looks a bit uglier on a big-screen TV, but it's better on the portable screen.
As for the soundtrack, Core R has a really fun soundtrack. It teeters somewhere nicely between fantasy and rock and roll, in all the best ways possible. It’s like an inspired set of anime tunes that doesn’t know where it’ll go next, and that’s what makes it so damn fun. Definitely pop on headphones if you can, or crank up your stereo speakers if you want to take that route.
On top of that, the voice work for the characters continues to be top-notch, with each one adding a distinct amount of personality. They’re a lot of fun to listen to during each battle, even if we can barely make out what they’re saying. The original Guilty Gear doesn’t offer as much, sadly.
Even though it’s six years old and surpassed by other titles released by Arc System Works over the years, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R still has tremendous value on the gameplay front. It has something to offer to rookies that are willing to learn more; those who become veterans will adapt to systems that can become total game-changers. A tutorial mode would’ve been a welcome addition, but there’s a lot of training ground here that lets you catch up without much concern. As for Guilty Gear, it still plays like its classic self, though its systems aren’t nearly as deep. Play it for nostalgic value.
This rating mainly applies to the tremendous amount of modes that Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R has to offer. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, from basic arcade modes to deeper stuff that will challenge even the most wily of fighting fanatics. There’s some stuff for you to work your way up to greatness as well, so don’t be afraid to step up. Alas, I do wish online mode worked a little bit better because there are times that the performance can stutter with the Nintendo Online service. Perhaps a patch would clean that right up. As for Guilty Gear itself, it doesn’t innovate much, but it does offer some thrills for an extra freebie.
Learning Curve: 8.5/10.
Again, a tutorial mode would’ve gone a long way for a game such as this, but it’s not the end of the world. You can adjust Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R’s difficulty with ease and work your way up. Once you adapt to the systems, you’ll grow to enjoy what some characters have to offer. That said, if you want to invest in the game’s deeper systems, do make sure you set some time aside. As far as the original Guilty Gear goes, it’s fairly easy to get into, in case you feel like something from the late 90s.
There are certain areas where the game shows its six-year old age, particularly when you play it on a big-screen television. You can see some of the sprites stand out, and the original Guilty Gear doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to showing off its age. That said, the games still look phenomenal with their animations and stage designs, particularly on the Nintendo Switch’s portable screen. What’s more, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R’s soundtrack absolutely kicks, with a mixture of fantasy and rock tunes that will absolutely thrill fans in every way possible. Crank it up.
When it comes to online multiplayer, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R has problems that can’t be avoided. When the matches do connect they work fine, but that can take a while. Hopefully, this is something the developer will address over time. That said, the local multiplayer still rocks; the many modes that are available to you and your buddies is an overwhelming value. Not to mention the fun you can have diving back into one-on-one battles with the original Guilty Gear.
Value For Money: 9.0/10.
Whereas most fighting games clock in anywhere between $20 and $60, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is available for a meager $15. You also get two for the price of one. That’s not a bad deal at all. Yes, they’re older games, and a lot of people will complain about this point. However, Accent Core Plus R is loaded with playable modes, characters and a number of systems that will take you a lot of time to master. This game will keep you busy for some time, and considering its price tag, that’s not a bad thing.
Although I could recommend other games by Arc System Works to get your fighting fix, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is well worth the investment. You get two great fighting games from the past for your Nintendo Switch library, and both pack great gameplay and options for you and a friend. Sure, the online in Plus R could be way better, but the adaptable systems, fun presentation, and smoking gameplay will keep you highly entertained.
- A ton of awesome modes to choose from in Plus R
+ Great fighting mechanics for pros and newcomers alike
Solid presentation will really bring fans in, especially in portable mode
The original Guilty Gear is thrown in as a freebie
Questionable problems with online play in Plus R
Guilty Gear hasn’t aged that well
Some sprites are noticeable on the big screen with Plus R
A tutorial mode in Plus R would’ve been helpful
(Disclaimer: a review code was provided by the publisher.)