Remember when we just kept upgrading the same games over and over again to make people buy new versions? Many of you shake your head and exclaim “Surely not!” as you continue to be annoyed at Bethesda or EA for nickel and diming you over DLC. But that was definitely the tempo of the world for a long time. Street Fighter II lived about a thousand lives before III finally came along, and I don’t think anyone even remembers that game anymore in the shadows of IV and V. Yes, it was fighting games that did this, mostly (looking at you, Mortal Kombat Gold), and each iteration of the same game included some kind of extra character and doo-dad to make it worth your investment. Well, the Guilty Gear series has come home to roost on the Switch, but Arc System Works and PQube want to make sure that the games are better received than the BlazBlue set (which has sold…good enough). So, we’re starting with some older entries, but at very reasonable prices and today we’re looking at the grandfather of all amended titles: Guilty Gear XX Accent Core + R.
The XX lets you know this is technically the third game in the series, but Accent Core + R is the fifth version of that third game, so do whatever maths you need. Fighting games are such fascinating creatures, as they’re the only sort of game I see that continues to be beta tested by players long after they get released, because only an infinite number of monkeys can consider the infinite number of pairings that QA testers simply don’t have time for. Accent Core + R was released nearly a decade after the original XX, which lets you know the longevity of the player base as well as the developers. What’s really cool is that there’s so much meat in the Switch version of Accent Core + R that it’s really hard to cover absolutely everything without spending pages upon pages of writeup, but I will do my best to highlight all that should make players consider dishing out the fifteen dollars for one of the most coveted fighting games of the last generation.
First and foremost, if you’ve never played a Guilty Gear game, it’s a huge trip to drop into this one, but I’ll do my best to get everyone on the same page. Much like BlazBlue, this is an incredibly explosive fighting game that’s wrought with characters who share unique fighting styles, designs, and impossibly glamorous costumes. The main hero is named Sol Badguy, which is hilarious, and you’re dealing with human beings, magical machinations called Gears (which look sort of humanoid, but also look like vampires or Gundams), and boys named Bridget who dress in habits. You’ve got your HP to watch out for, your Tension gauge which fills as a result of damage and allows for amazing techniques, and your Burst gauge that just naturally fills and can allow you to stop a juggernaut opponent in their tracks when the gauge is full. Every match is a testament to what kind of experience the two players have. If they’re equally unskilled in the game, it turns into a sloppy, hopping dance of random slaps and totally happenstance combos that only ends when someone finally lays down the last accidental punch. If both players are very skilled, you’re in for a treat of frenzied proportions, as combo breaks, juggling, bombastic, multi-screen hits and dramatic finishers could be laid out in seconds or minutes. If one player is great and the other is terrible, prepare to be mesmerized by the Tension gauge giving birth to one hit kill techniques, called Destroyed, wherein a player needs only to land a single blow to trigger a massive, dramatical murder of the other player. It’s a sight to behold, and I was lucky enough to watch someone do this to another player in an arcade many years ago (The Magnum Wedding is the best finishing move of all time).
With twenty five characters to choose from, it’s easy to find someone you’ve got a solid affinity with in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core + R, and there’s plenty of ways to figure out if they’re the character for you. You’ve got your standard arcade mode and some training modes to get your bearings, and the Help/Options page allows you to shift the difficulty down until you’ve gotten your sea legs. After that, there’s the insane story mode for each and every person that’s different in all accounts, as well as some great opportunities to hear the voice actors do more than grunt and announce their attacks. You can play against the CPU in a single match, another player, team battles versus CPU or another player, and, naturally, Net Play, which is…well. Right now, we need more people to get on board with Guilty Gear XX Accent Core + R, because there isn’t a damn person I managed to connect with in order to test out the game. As a result, I instead spent a lot of time in M.O.M., a survival/high score type mode where you face opponent after opponent, beating them up and grabbing the points that they drop. It’s a really spiffy and interesting way for a player to get their rage on, and, with the Switch’s portability and instant freeze from sleep, you can keep that party going for a fantastically long time. Again, though, if you really want to get better, spend plenty of time in Training before heading to Net Play. The game has been around for over 15 years in different flavors, and players have only been getting better since then.
This is a weird game to simply start from in terms of fighting games because the learning curve is pretty drastic. Once you move from Beginner to Easy, you can already see the CPU start to scale their moves and counters in big ways. There’s nothing inherently fluid or natural about transitioning from character to character, so hopping around is not the best way to get better: with Guilty Gear, you pick a main and you get damn good with that main. Having said that, it also makes the payout so much more satisfying. The game does look really good on the Switch, with borders to help lock in the proper aspect ratio so that there’s nothing stretched or bloated in the appearance. I haven’t noticed any problems with screen tearing, anti-aliasing or what have you in the visuals, either: I just watch chaos explode on the screen as the heavy metal soundtrack shreds my soul and Zappa creeps me the hell out. It may not be as pretty as the current iterations of BlazBlue are, but these are where those flashy and insane movesets were spawned from: we acknowledge our ancestors and give thanks to their sacrifice. We also hope that Xrd might come to the Switch in the not too distant future as well, if only so Zato-1 can make his debut on the Switch.
Even if you already own Guilty Gear XX Accent Core + R on another system, the Switch has three great reasons for you to pick it up. Firstly, the Korean soundtrack. Holy hell, right in the options you can change the standard BGM to the Korea-only release soundtrack to enjoy some smoking hot synth from the late, great Shin Hae-chul, and it’s a fantastic complement to the standard heavy metal soundtrack. Given that this has never been legally released outside of South Korea, that alone is a get. Then, you have the option to toggle, at any time, between Accent Core + R and the original Accent Core. Some people feel the balancing between the first Accent Core and the +R versions are wildly different, and planning on how you play is important, so this’ll be great for fans who want to feel the difference between new and old. Lastly, and this might be semantics, but the damn game is only fifteen dollars. Yes, it’s technically an older release, but we see people dropping other really old, poorly ported games for top dollar on the Switch. Big ups to Arc System Works for looking, listening, and positioning correctly.
Guilty Gear is still a massive trip to go on, and fans might consider starting with the original if they want to fully understand the story and how the hell we get to where we are in XX Accent Core + R with Dizzy, Justice and all that jazz. However, if you’re old hat in this space, or just want to wail the hell out of your friends locally and online in a brand new fashion, you really can’t go wrong here. Huge fighting roster, tons of game modes, a truck full of extra options for Switch exclusivity and an unbeatable price. At the very least, pick it up so we can get more people online and playing again. Heaven or Hell, let’s rock!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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GUILTY GEAR XX ACCENT CORE PLUS R Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
Despite being several years old, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core + R comes out the gate strong, reminding everyone why it’s one of the greatest fighting games ever.