Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack Review

Developed by Arc System Works
Published by Arc System Works and PQube
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch (titles separately available on PlayStation 4 and Steam)

Over the past two decades, the Guilty Gear series has enthralled fighting game aficionados with its high speed action, outlandish characters, and rocking metal tunes. With its recent resurgence via the stylish Guilty Gear Xrd, the franchise remains prominent today. Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack encapsulates the series’ past via Guilty Gear and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R. Guilty Gear laid the foundation for the series’ designs, and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is the definitive release of the series’ 2D releases. The 20th Anniversary versions provide a few additional options that boost playability. With exciting visuals, music, and fighting mechanics, each of these two games are still entertaining to play today.

Guilty Gear originated on the PlayStation in 1998, and it is a fascinating look at the beginning of the franchise. Set in a world in which mankind’s magic-infused Gears have gone awry and caused astronomical damage, it lays the groundwork for the series’ explosive weapon-based one-on-one battles. All thirteen characters appear in successive Guilty Gear games, but some designs and themes are overhauled and revised in future titles. The game’s visuals are also still striking with ample effects and scaling despite having a lower resolution than later games in the series. The songs noticeably have a grungier edge than later soundtracks such as Guilty Gear X’s, XX’s, and Xrd’s.

Mechanically Guilty Gear may surprise fans of later games with its wide-reaching dashes, chargeable moves, and match-winning instant kill moves. The game lays the groundwork for the high intensity action of its successors, but it is still quite playable today. The 20th Anniversary version is an accurate reproduction of the original game, and it also removes the load times during the versus screen. Much like in the original game, players have to unlock Testament, Justice, and Baiken via fulfilling specific criteria, which provides a fair amount of challenge.

Originally released for home platforms in 2013, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is the definitive version of the series’ 2D entries that span the 2000s. It portrays the cast’s continued battles against shadowy forces that aspire to harness the Gears’ power. The game includes twenty-five characters right at the start, which include rebalanced versions of the former bonus characters Kliff and Justice. With striking designs and fairly sizable sprites, the visuals still look appealing today. Guilty Gear XX’s hallmark is its heavy metal tunes, and the game is full of classic high-octane material such as “Holy Orders” and “Awe of She” that are memorable and appealing.

Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R is an extensive package that dwarfs many other fighting games in terms of content. With numerous offensive and defensive techniques, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R’s complex combat takes quite a bit of practice to master. The remarkable part about the game is its incredible amount of single-player and multiplayer modes that includes Arcade, Medal of Millionaire, Versus, Team Versus, Survival, Mission, and Story Mode. With unlockable game toggles, gallery entries, and alternate character types, the game’s content is quite staggering and provides considerable replay value. For hardcore Guilty Gear fans, the game also allows players to change the game balance between standard Accent Core and Plus R’s. The options are so granular that players can even switch lead character Sol Badguy’s voice between his creator Daisuke Ishiwatari and his current actor Jouji Nakata.

The 20th Anniversary releases are notable due to a handful of relevant additions. Both games support single Joy-Con play, which is certainly handy on the Switch. As Guilty Gear has not had a full high-definition re-release until now, this release is the easiest way to experience the game on current platforms. Some additions round out the game’s features to be more in line with contemporary games. For example, players can access movelists, extensive explanations of game terminology, a music player, and swappable side borders.

Unfortunately, some of Guilty Gear’s options are a little limited. Players can either use one type of border art or turn it off, and the game lacks visual filters. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus also features extensive help sections and easy control swapping. One of its most notable Switch exclusive features is the ability to select the H.C Shin soundtrack which was originally present in the Korean version of Guilty Gear XX #Reload. This soundtrack is completely different from every other Guilty Gear soundtrack’s melody and even tone, but it is entirely recommendable and full of catchy high-speed rock riffs.

Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack is a wonderful way to relive the series’ past. It is full of incredible value whether players pick up specific territories’ physical two-pack or the individual digital releases of Guilty Gear and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R. Since the two games’ assets are largely unique, it is worth experiencing each game even today. These releases provide highly replayable dynamic fighting game action on the Switch, and their metal-inspired action and aesthetics are appealing.