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Reviewed: Guilty Gear Isuka
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: October 19th, 2004
Page: 2
Initial reaction: this game is HARD. The last Guilty Gear title, Guilty Gear X2, found players fighting against ridiculous computer AI. Defeating the final boss with even a favorite character was something to crow about. In this one, not only were there bosses, but the challenge level was magnified tenfold by the four-player fighting system. If you want a challenge (and by "challenge" I mean something that could very well cause you to re-create a Penny Arcade Strip) then this is your game.

Guilty Gear Isuka consists of two main modes. In the arcade fighting style mode, there are up to four characters on the screen. Yes, four characters, and screen-covering attacks remain for most characters as well. To expand the space a little, there's now a front and back row to the screen; players on the front can't hit the back, and vice versa. Travel between rows is accomplished with two-button hot sequences, that either jump to a row, jump-attack to a row, or knock an opponent to the opposite row.

The problem with the rows is, they're not well enough distinguished. In four-player games, humans who were knocked to another row quickly got disoriented, a condition that didn't affect the computer. It doesn't help that the only difference visually is a slight darkening of the character; nor does it help that the rows are different in height by about 5 pixels; nor does it help that area-covering attacks from the front row obscure the back. Nice idea, frustrating execution.

Since there are now four characters, auto-facing is out. It's been replaced by a "turn" button, which literally just turns the character around. Advantage: computer, as the computer's autoface routines remain the same. While it's a necessary feature, and usable for a few surprises (for instance, Sol-Badguy can bounce off of an opposite wall with his flying kick by altering his facing) it's more trouble than it's really worth.

That being said, these differences disappear in the standard 1-on-1 fighting, and even in four-player free for all or team battles. It's mostly computer cheese that makes the features so frustrating, so for players with a PS2 and Multitap adapter Guilty Gear Isuka becomes an excellent party game.

Old favorite characters return for your butt-kicking pleasure.

Can you tell who's in the front and back?

Boost Mode is a Final Fight clone of sorts.

The alternate mode for Guilty Gear Isuka is the "Boost" mode, which pits players against a Final Fight-style world and numerous enemies. As in any Final Fight clone, lining up side to side to hit enemies can be problematic; so too are some of the attacks in the game, which work perfectly well in small battles but are useless against groups. It's an interesting proposition, but falls somewhat flat. Unfortunately, it's what replaced the earlier storyline modes, so finding out characters' new events and storylines makes the mode necessary. Boost Mode also, since it's a Final Fight-style game, shifts the jump button from up on the directional pad to the L1 button. If you're playing a lot of Boost, or ignoring it altogether, that's fine. Trying to switch between the two can take some getting used to, and frequently resulted in my screwing up jumping attacks after changing modes.

Boost Mode also gives players a fully "customizable" character, Robo Ky II. He starts out with the original Robo Ky's moves, and can be "scrambled" to enter the Boost Mode challenge and fight forward. The more enemies he defeats, the more experience he earns; with enough experience, any move can be bought. It's a daunting proposition, as acquiring even one move deemed "powerful" by the designers can take 4-5 runs through the initial stage. It's an interesting way to create a character, but not for those without a lot of time on their hands.

Overall, GG Isuka's not a bad title. There's a lot here to explore and learn, and a lot more to master. Is it for everyone? Definitely not. Will it repulse fans of the series? To be honest, there's a real possibility of doing so. Still I have to give Sammy Studios credit for trying to take things to the next level, and at least partially succeeding.

Added:  Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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