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Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers (DS)

January 5, 2007

Guilty Gear is a series that has amassed a certain amount of cult status among fighting fans. The series’ combination of silky smooth anime visuals, brain melting speed, blistering combo’s and gutsy difficulty have combined to create a title to rival Street Fighter’s crown as the best 2D fighter available. So naturally, for that community, anticipation was running high when both Dust Strikers and Judgement (the latter being a PSP title) where announced. The PSP was to see a release of the excellent X2 # reload while the DS title was based more upon the four player antics of recent experimental title Isuka.

And for the series’ first foray onto a Nintendo system, it manages to please almost no one. Stuck between intricate fighter and smash bros inspired party brawler, it falls over its shoelaces because it is more concerned with its makeup than sorting out the basics that the franchise normally does so well.

The first thing Dust Strikers tampers with is the control, Guilty Gear has always used a six button layout (punch, kick, slash, heavy slash, dust and taunt) with roman cancels (a form of creating custom combos) attained through a combination of buttons, however the DS title alters this regardless of having enough buttons (weak, strong, special, dust and roman cancel are all assigned a button). This alone alienates long-term players enough without the designers making special moves simple directions with A, rather than the staple Street Fighter quarter circles. Add to this holding down to block (due to a requirement to turn on the spot) and this is a title that disturbs fighting fans more than Isuka’s ‘turn around’ button, but regardless of this there is some fun to be had.

Get over the initial control shock and you will realise that combos are now easier to link and, when played with four humans, it allows for some great showing off potential. The fighting engine is solid if unspectacular and the game features a special bar for more powerful attacks, add to this the layered arena’s and the action can heat up between two, three or four experienced humans.

But if you do not have access to three DS and Guilty Gear wielding friends, you may as well not bother. The game has been stripped of single player options, offering merely arcade, story (arcade with a narrative) and mini games. The mini games offer nothing other games haven’t already shown players and the arcade and story modes fail to present a challenge, even when ramped up to the highest setting.

Visually the game works, it lacks the detail of its console brethren, with some minor jerks in character animation (obvious when compared to the beautiful animation of X2 # reload), but it runs with four players while special moves ignite the sky with no slowdown. The backgrounds of the arenas look nice as well, however there could have been more variety as well as diversity in the platforms, while levels look different, they all feel the same.

Simply put, if you have friends who are willing to cough up the cash and invest some time with Dust Strikers you will find a fun fighting game with enough depth and character choice to bring you back for more multiplayer, but if you lack this, and due to the criminal exclusion of Wi Fi, you are advised to steer clear of Dust Strikers.

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