Few genres possess the stubborn nature of the 2D fighter. Whereas other game types evolve over time and strive to incorporate new and innovative features that not only make them easier to play but also more enjoyable, the 2D brawler is perfectly content to remain static. But before you start to moan that we’re somehow biased against the genre here at NintendoLife, let it be known that we happen to be serious one-on-one fighting fanatics and have been since Capcom’s seminal Street Fighter 2 rebooted everyone’s expectations of what this type of game should be like.
Nevertheless, we’re realists too and we’re prepared to admit that fighters are stuck in a rut. In the past decade we’ve undoubtedly witnessed innovation, but to be brutally honest things haven’t really gotten that much better than what we were used to back in the early ‘90s. Guilty Gear – a series that saw its debut during the 32-bit era and has gained a sizeable following since – is a perfect example of the kind of unfortunate stasis the beat ‘em up genre finds itself in.
Again, now might be a good time to stress that we like Guilty Gear at lot here at NintendoLife; the Playstation original was a breath of fresh air after years of Capcom and SNK domination and the Dreamcast/PS2 sequel brought high-resolution visuals to the 2D fighting arena. The series is also fantastically playable, with enough speed and aggression to make it stand out from the Street Fighters and King of Fighters of this world. The problem with this latest release is that it just doesn’t do enough to advance the bloodline and leaves you wondering where the developer intends to take the franchise next.
Graphically, GGAC certainly lives up to the stellar reputation that previous instalments have established; the visuals are colourful and razor-sharp (although it has to be said that the dawn of the Hi-Def era has condensed the crispness of Guilty Gear’s world somewhat) and the animation is uniformly excellent throughout. The stages in which you fight are similarly impressive, with plenty of imagination going into their design. In terms of 2D art, you really would be hard pressed to find anything more delightful on the Wii right now. The sound is also extremely polished, with some fantastically punchy spot effects and suitably rocking music (again, a series trademark). Cosmetically, it’s hard to fault the game, but it’s worth noting that there’s nothing here that hasn’t been offered up by previous games in the lineage.
The same can be said of the general gameplay; it’s fair to say that Guilty Gear veterans will be perfectly at home with what’s on offer. All manner of Force Break and Overdrive techniques are available, and even after more than a decade of familiarity the moves offered up by GG:AC still manage to look absolutely stunning in motion. In terms of fighter roster, all the familiar faces are here and the game modes are generally surprise-free; it’s only when you get into a match that everything starts to go horribly wrong. You see, GG:AC proudly supports motion-sensitive control: to perform moves you have to swing the Wiimote and Nunchuk around.
Trust us, it’s as a bad as it sounds.
Fighting games are built around lightening fast gameplay that requires almost superhuman reactions; watch footage of Guilty Gear experts on the net and they are seemingly able to slow down time and cram almost limitless combos into mere seconds. Simply put, a swinging motion performed with the Wiimote is never going to be as swift as a button press, and it’s here that the control method falls apart completely.
We’re all for developers putting the Wii’s unique abilities to good use – after all, it’s the only machine that can perform these kind of tricks – but we’ve seen too many examples of motion-sensitive control methods being shoe-horned into games where they just don’t belong and GG:AC is yet another lamentable example to add to the list.
It’s not a complete loss as the game also supports the Classic Controller and GameCube pads, and when using these peripherals things become a lot more palatable (although it should be noted that neither pad is really suited for 2D fighting games). Regardless of this freedom of choice, it has to be remembered that not everyone possesses these interface options. To put it bluntly, the Wii isn’t really a console that is geared towards this type of game.
It’s very likely that GG:AC is the most gorgeous 2D fighter you’ll ever lay eyes on but the fact remains that it’s badly compromised by the terrible motion-sensitive control. A general lack of originality is also a key issue, but having said all that fans of the series will be perfectly at home here – so long as they pick up a Classic Controller and shun the terrible default control scheme.