20th May2019

‘Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack’ Review (Switch)

by Phil Wheat

It won’t comes as a surprise given how many of them I review, but I am a HUGE fan of fighting games – in particular the 2D fighters of old – having played just about EVERY 2D fighting game ever released on any system, from side-scrolling days of the NES, to the classic SNES/Streetfighter 2 era, to more modern takes on the genre such as Guilty Gear XX (PS2) and Blazblue (Xbox 360) and current-gen games like Dragonball FighterZ, Blade Strangers and Nitroplus Blasterz. Seriously, if it’s a fighting game I’ve played it. Though of all the franchises I’ve played over the years Guilty Gear and its spiritual successor BlazBlue have always been a solid favourite.

Which is why I was so excited for the 20th anniversary release of Guilty Gear.

It’s also why I paid out the money for the super-expensive limited edition version of the game, complete with a personal letter from series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari, an artbook with unreleased works of his and… an accessory pouch limited to 700 pieces in the entire of Europe!

To be honest. I wish I’d have stuck with just the Day One edition WITHOUT the pouch. The finished limited edition product is lacklustre beyond belief – it’s the day one edition shrink-wrapped to a plain white box for gods sake! Oh, and that “letter” from Daisuke Ishiwatari? Its the inside cover print NOT a physical item! Just check out the picture of what the limited edition looks like in the flesh (so to speak):

guilty-gear-20-packshot

guilty-gear-product

guilty-gear-letter

Seriously what happened PQube? The previous Guilty Gear games got superb limited editions, especially the last 2 games released on the PS4; but this version looks like something thrown together at the last minute.I appreciate you going out there and publishing, Westernising and distributing titles that would otherwise not really see the light of day outside of Japan but to do this, with one of the most famous fighting franchises ever, seems like a smack in the face of Guilty Gear‘s hardcore fans.

But what about the games? Well, as always, they don’t disappoint. The Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack contains 2 titles from the franchise:

Guilty Gear

guilty-gear-screen

Originally released on the original Playstation in 1998, the first Guilty Gear games spectacular special moves brought the PSX to its limits, a hardrock soundtrack that still has to meet its match, innovative mechanics and unique characters that kicked off an incredibly complex and epic anime story will equally fascinate fighting game fans today, as it did 20 years ago.

Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R

guilty-gear-xxr-screen

First released in 2013 in Japan, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is the final installment and epitome of the Guilty Gear XX series that polished everything introduced in the 12 previous installments to reach optimal balance. Mechanics like the universal overhead attack “Dust” as well as “Roman Cancel”, which allows players to cancel all kinds of actions and therefore increases their options dramatically.

So that’s the very first Guilty Gear game, originally released on the PS One and the last Guilty Gear game ever released on the PS2 (in the “tweaked” Plus R version that actually debuted on PS3) – that’s a huge gap in Guilty Gear history but on that shows exactly how the franchise has developed and evolved over the years, finding its core strengths and honing its now-classic gameplay style. It also shows how the developers tried to balance the characters within the game, allowing both experienced and novice games to play together.

In terms of ports both games are, at least from my experience with the franchise and past versions I’ve played, these look crisper, cleaner and are more pixel-perfect presentations of both games. Obviously given that these game are 2D fighters there’s no real visible change between docked and handheld versions – both look equally as good. The only real difference is in the audio. For me handheld mode seemed a little quiet compared to other Switch games and I had to crank up the volume higher than I normally do. Though that’s a VERY minor quibble for what is a great package (and when I say package I mean the games, NOT the physical release).

The big surprise with the Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack, beyond the fact when you insert the cartridge TWO games are added to the Switch homescreen rather than one combined game) is how well the Switch controls work with BOTH Guilty Gear titles. The control via joycons – using both d-pad and analog stick – feeling comfortable and familiar. If you’ve ever played a Guilty Gear game before you’ll feel right at home with these 2 Switch ports.

The real surprise though..? How good I still am at the original Guilty Gear game despite having not played it in over five years!
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Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack is available now, physically, for the Nintendo Switch. You can also buy both games individually on the Nintendo eShop.

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