[Review] Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus (PS3)

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I’ve never been one to identify with others when they discount newer games and movies in favor of older releases. However, I have to admit I am  on that side of the fence as well when it comes to certain games – especially fighting games. There’s just something about having to practice for hours on end to even become proficient with characters and their combos that I respect. While one series has managed to keep its integrity and difficulty, the same can hardly be said for others. Thankfully, the digital market has made it possible for one of the hardest 2D fighters ever, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, to become accessible again.

To begin, the title’s button setup is already unconventional compared to the rest. Rather than the conventional buttons and kicks present in other games, Guilty Gear XX gives players punch, kick, slash, heavy slash, and dust attacks. Though it may be confusing, the first four can be treat like any other normal buttons in other fighting games and players will easily learn to play the game and utilzie attacks, regardless of what they’re labeled.  In addition to an unconventional button configuration, the game also boasts  one of the most ingenuine ways of incorporating gameplay systems and solution to practically every problem. For every aspect of other fighting games that players have complained about, Accent Core has a solution, whether it be utilizing the burst to escape long combos or absolute guard to negate chip damage from an otherwise fatal blocked special move.

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Unlike modern titles like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 or even other comparable titles at its time like Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Accent Core has no launch attack. There’s no easy way for players to simply launch opponents into the air and begin a canned air combo. Though the dust attack can be used to launch opponents for a flashy combo, it is hardly optimal. Instead, the game relies on players’ creativity and experience in order to create the high damaging combos found in high level play. This may make the game harder for newcomers to grasp, but it gives the game so much flavor and variety that the matches are never a bore to watch or play.

Despite the game’s difficulty, it’s always managed to attract a sizable casual fanbase – and with good reason. At its time, and even now, it’s one of the most beautiful 2D fighting games around. Sprites are large and detailed, bearing a signature animation style that made fans constantly yearn for an anime that would never be. The characters’ designs are equally colorful, ranging from recognizable fan favorites like yo-yo toting boy-in-disguise Bridget to the more obscure, but equally interesting characters like Zappa, who is possessed by demons and has access to different movesets depending on whichever demon is present.

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Every character’s gameplay style is in line with their designs, each more unique than the last and ensuring players can never get by playing any two characters the same way. Though other titles boast a rich variety at higher levels, the diversity in Accent Core is apparent even from a casual gamer’s perspective and a beautifully integral part of the experience for hardcore gamers. Different characters require a fresh approach to the game, bringing with them not only the obligatory different moves and combos, but even movement and fighting styles. Though most of the cast has access to runs and chain combos, Slayer has a dash and combos that consist entirely of links whereas Potemkin has no dash or run. These major differences are what made, and continue to make, Accent Core one of the most unique fighters out there.

Sadly, the title’s transition to the current generation isn’t without its flaws. The title is bare bones, providing little more than what was originally offered in its console version an entire generation ago. While the game has been updated with a network mode, it’s hardly comparable to even the worse netcodes in other current fighters. In my time playing it, matches consisted of missing the most elementary combos and was so frustrating that I uttered “I want to stop playing Guilty Gear” for the first time in my life. Ever.

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As a game released during the PS2′s heyday, Accent Core is unparalleled. However, its lack of any additional modes or tutorials to help newcomers cripples its ability to pick up the uninitiated and a horrendous netcode bars players from ever playing against strangers as they would in the arcade days. However, if players have enough competition around them, then the release is still respectable and brings back the title’s original glory in full form. Hopefully, the issues with online play and a lack of modes will be resolved when the title is updated to Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R later in 2013.

Available on: PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Arc System Works; Developer: Namco Bandai; Players: 1 – 2; Released: December 4, 2012; ESRB: Mature; MSRP: $14.99

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