While Arc System Works’ first attempt at making a four-player Guilty Gear game wasn’t what you’d consider to be a failure, Guilty Gear Isuka was a noticeable departure from the style of gameplay fans of the series had come to expect. Added problems with the controls turned off gamers and as such, Isuka wasn’t considered by many to be a great title. With Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers, the latest title in the franchise, the series takes a massive departure from technical fighting to a style of game in the same vein as Jump Super Stars and Super Smash Bros. Unfortunately, Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers is handicapped more by the console it’s played on rather then its own devices.
The typical Street Fighter-style of controls Guilty Gear has had in the past are mostly replaced with much more simplistic moves including a set button for special moves. It initially felt strange playing Guilty Gear as a button masher, but after giving it a few playthroughs, there was some familiarity to some of the moves. Some of the super moves the characters had from previous games are present as well, but performing them on the DS control pad can be difficult considering how fast the action is during play. Thankfully these controls are not further encumbered by the touch screen, which is barely used during the main combat portion of the game save for activating power-ups when they are acquired.
The visual presentation attributed to Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers takes the great character style that Guilty Gear is known for and shrinks it down to almost obscene levels. Yes, you can sometimes recognize the characters, but it would have seemed wiser for developers to use the style of character sprites in Guilty Gear Petit (on the Wonderswan Color) rather than the barely recognizable versions found here. Thankfully, Dust Strikers carries over several stage and character themes from previous Guilty Gear games that will be instantly recognizable by existing fans, and while the game’s visuals leave much to be desired, the series’ aural presentation has been emulated very well here.
In addition to the Arcade and Story modes found in the game, Dust Strikers is also a series of mini-games that make use of the stylus and touch screen much more heavily. Each game varies in difficulty, and achieving the high score in one unlocks unlocks a new portion of another of Dust Striker’s modes, Robo-Ky Factory (borrowed from Isuka). Obliviously, there is a Versus mode, which makes the game somewhat more fun and accessible, but unfortunately the game does not support single cartridge multiplayer – thus severely limiting the game’s accessibility.
Guilty Gear is a dark horse candidate from the mainstream fighting game genre, and as such Dust Strikers is the series’ black sheep. DS owners are advised to take care if they are contemplating purchasing this odd take oh the Guilty Gear franchise, as besides the series’ moniker, this is definitely not the same game that you are used to playing.