Guilty Gear Isuka

Review

posted 11/1/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
If you were a gamer in the 1990s you no doubt remember the dozens and dozens of fighting games on the market. Names like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat are well-known by today’s generation of gamers, but remember when names like World Heroes, Fatal Fury and Primal Rage were of the household variety? It’s just a sign of how far the market has changed as games like Tekken and Soul Calibur now rule the Arcades, leaving the 2D fighters in the dust. That’s why I’m thankful that Sammy Studios decided to re-introduce its fighting series, Guilty Gear, on the PlayStation 2 a few years back. It retained all of the great elements that I enjoyed about yesterday’s fighters while adding in a number of new features that brought the game into its own. This latest entry builds upon Guilty Gear X2 by adding a plethora of features and the end result is the best 2D fighter available on the market today.

Isuka is an extension of GGX2 in the way that Super Street Fighter was an extension of Street Fighter II. When taken at face value it’s essentially the same game with a small handful of changes, but unlike Capcom’s annual “updates” the changes in Isuka actually make a noticeable impact. Instead of adhering to the traditional one-on-one formula the game kicks it up a notch and accommodates up to four combatants. You can have all kinds of melees now, one-on-three, two-on-two, every man for himself. It all sounds very chaotic and it is, but in a very deliberate and controller sort of way. GG is already a hectic and frantic game so fans of the game are already used to seeing their screens convoluted and filled with action. Through all that’s happening there isn’t an instance where the player doesn’t feel in control of the battle. You always have full control of your character and the action holds up fairly well. The only problem with this mode is that you’ll need to purchase a multi-tap in order to take advantage of it. At least the guys at Sammy had the foresight to allow players to setup the AI to fill in the other slots, so if you only have two controllers you can still enjoy the four-player action.

"I swear! I didn't know it was steroids!" Said a suspicious Barry Bonds.
The other key addition comes in the form of a side-scrolling aspect. When I was younger I had always envisioned what a 2D brawler featuring the characters from Street Fighter II would be like. All my friends said it would be impossible and that the special moves would be too difficult to execute against multiple enemies. Well, Sammy has just proved them all wrong with the GG Boost mode, one of the best things to ever happen to fighting games. It takes you out of the 2D fighting realm and into the 2D brawler realm, much like what you would expect to find in a game like Final Fight. Instead of beating up on one opponent you’ll use your skills to mash multiple opponents that stand between you and your objective. What makes this feature so great is the fact that you fight the enemies just like you would fight a normal foe. You can link up combos, use special moves and execute supers just like in a normal fight. Special moves are also made easy because your character always faces one way; in order to turn him around you’ll need to manually do so by pressing the R1 character. This ensures that you won’t accidentally turn around in the middle of executing a move. The best part of this feature? You and a friend can have at it and dish out the punishment, co-op style. Without a doubt one of the best things to ever happen to the 2D fighting genre and just gamers in general.

Aside from the aforementioned features, you’ll have access to a new character, the ability to change the color palettes for all of the characters and a new create-a-character mode that adds some depth to the game. A.B.A uses a giant key as her primary means of attack, which means that she fits in perfectly into the game’s quirky universe. The create-a-character mode is pretty basic; you have a basic template to build upon and as you level up, you’ll be able to add new abilities and upgrade attributes. It’s kind of neat but I wish I would have been able to personalize him a little more, and no, changing the color of his hair isn’t classified as customization. The color edit mode is pretty decent if you’re not content with the default palettes that come with the game.
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