Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core
Heaven or Hell? What’s it going to be, pal? You’ve got thirty seconds to choose. You going to go the good-natured paladin, or are you going to go with that flame-spouting anti-hero? How about the one-armed female samurai? No? What about that vampire assassin? Not your style, eh? How about the swashbuckling womanizer, or the prepubescent pirate girl that’s pining after him? The lady with the sentient hair looks like fun, too. Look at that girl with the giant key, or that crossdressing grim reaper dude. By the way, that yoyo-wielding bounty hunter isn’t a girl, so you might want to stop drooling over his feminine looks…or not. That’s your business. The point is, you’ve got to choose. Is it so hard? Quit staring and leave everything you know about 2D fighters behind. You aren’t playing Street Fighter II on the Virtual Console anymore. This is a Guilty Gear game.
That’s right, folks. Just when you thought fighting games were getting stale, Guilty Gear has finally come to the Wii. Don’t get your hopes up, though; Guilty Gear XX Accent Core isn’t entirely a new game; it’s the port of the PS2 title. It’s also yet another update of Guilty Gear X2. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. X2 remains one of the greatest 2D fighters of its time, and Accent Core just makes things even better. Sure, the Story Mode and all of the pre-fight dialogues have been cut, but it’s not like any of it really mattered anyway. Instead, you’ll be treated to a regular Arcade Mode boasting over twenty playable fighters. While X2 veterans may mourn the lack of the characters Justice and Kliff in this version, fans of XX Slash and Isuka may be glad to see that Holy Order Sol and A.B.A from the respective titles. With so many fighters and diverse playing styles to choose from, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to kick some ass.
At first glance, it doesn’t look like much has changed with this latest installment. The Wii version of Accent Core retains much of what made the other titles so awesome. Each character still comes packing a wide variety of punches, kicks, slashes, thrusts, and whatever weird weapons they might be wielding. Since the combat mechanics are centered around linking different attacks together into various combos, you’ll want to spend some time learning what moves flow better into the next and what strategies work best in a given situation. There are no Hadokens or Sonic Booms to be slung here; thanks to a wide variety of Control Stick maneuvers, button commands, and energy meters a la older 2D fighters, you can tear into your foes with blades, smash them into the borders of the arena, command demonic deities, sea animals, and teddy bears to do your bidding, cast wave after wave of fiery death, and even launch your victims skyward for some awesome midair combo action. That’s on top of all the Instant Kill moves you can perform; uppercutting someone into outer space never gets old.
While this sounds like business as usual for the last few Guilty Gear games, veterans will notice the changes once they start picking their favorite character and attempt to use the tactics they developed. Many of the fighters’ movesets and powers have been altered to balance out the gameplay. All of the characters have brand new moves to supplement their old techniques, allowing for plenty more combos and strategies. The more important changes, however, are a bit subtler. Air-dashing, Faultless Defense, Roman Canceling combos, and other basic techniques are still intact. But now you’ll be able to Instant Block (Street Fighter III fans might liken it to Parrying), pull off Force Break special attacks, and even escape from certain throws. You’re going to need it all, too; unlike the average default setting in X2, the difficulty level in Accent Core starts off as moderately challenging and careens into jaw-dropping insanity by the time you reach the last few fights. The AI uses all of the characters’ moves, making for some truly intense battles.
So what does all this terminology/mumbo jumbo really mean? It means that regular gamers have plenty of cool moves to try out, and competitive players will have tons of techniques and strategies to master. Fans of the older versions need not despair, however; you can unlock previous versions of each character, complete with their unaltered movesets. But instead of being able to play them from the start, you’ll have to unlock them (and their respective pictures in the Art Gallery) by trying the game’s different modes or playing for a set number of hours. While the Medal of Millionaire challenge is essentially tests your ability to get high scores, veterans will likely spend their time crusading through the Survival Mode. As you crush foe after ever-tougher foe, you’ll eventually come across alternate versions of regular characters that’ll be unlocked upon their defeat. But if you’re a complete newcomer (or if you haven’t played since X2, like yours truly) the game’s extensive Practice Mode is an excellent feature. Between modifying your offensive and defensive power, recording your opponent’s movements, and tweaking just about every feature possible, you’ll be in fighting shape in no time.
Of course, some of you will be too distracted by the eye candy to train well. Nearly all of the old backgrounds have been completely replaced with even crazier stuff than before. You’ll see combatants clashing swords amidst the mangled, flaming ruins of castle, or in the inner recesses of a candlelit cathedral. Even the shores of Hell are at your disposal, with a seemingly endless sea of blood and leaning towers for the setting of your duel. If you want something less intense, the sunlit harbors of Babylon, and the crowded Parisian alleys might be more appealing. Besides, there are few things more engrossing than fighting Baiken while Japanese lanterns and cherry blossoms drift around you. While the backgrounds may be stunning, the characters themselves haven’t changed at all. Potemkin is still an ugly mass of muscle and metal, Jam’s skirt has remained ridiculously short, and Venom’s billiard assassination techniques are still deadly as ever. Supposedly straight men will still fawn over Bridget’s cutesy looks long before they realize his true identity. But hey, the weirdness of these characters is half the fun, right?
But let’s say that you know all that already. This game has already been established on another system, after all. Perhaps you’re wore concerned over how the Wii version of Accent Core differs from its PS2 counterpart. In terms of content, the changes are non-existent; the characters, features, and unlockables haven’t been altered at all. In fact: there’s only one glaringly obvious difference: the control schemes. The back of the box states: Become one with your fighter as the Wii Remote and Nunchuck translate your movements into special attacks! …Right. Needless to say, The default WiiMote and Nunchuck scheme is horrendous; when playing a 2D fighter as intense as this, the last thing you want to deal with is the motion sensor misreading your commands and messing with your gameplay strategies. The game also gives you the option of using a Gamecube controller, but (as many Capcom VS SNK 2 EO veterans can attest to) the button layout can prove awkward. Instead, your best bet is to invest in a Classic Controller, which emulates the PS2 controls well (if not better, given the excellently crafted Control Stick). Ironically, one of the key differences with the Wii version is something you’ll probably never use.
Okay, bottom line: If you have a Wii, but lack a PS2, get this game. But if you happen to have both systems and trying to figure out which version to get, stick with the PS2 version. That’s assuming, of course, that you don’t have a Classic Controller. If you get the Wii version, be prepared to shell out some extra cash for the controller attachment; it’s the only control scheme that won’t make you want to throw your WiiMote into a wall. That issue aside, Accent Core is easily the best 2D fighter currently out. The AI may be brutal in later levels, but the learning curve and well-crafted Practice Mode will serve you well. Between all the new technical stuff, the new movesets, older character versions, and the absence of all the glitches that plagues the Japanese version, you’ve got one of the most finely crafted games in the Wii’s library. With a truckload of fighters, combos, techniques, and challenges to reckon with, Accent Core is easily the best update of a game that Guilty Gear fans know all too well.