Guilty Gear X (also known as Guilty Gear X: [By Your Side "G.GEAR"]) is a 2D sci-fi fantasy fighting game developed by Arc System Works and released by Sammy for arcades (using Dreamcast-based Sega NAOMI hardware) in Japan on July 2000.
Building on the 1998 game Guilty Gear, Guilty Gear X is the first arcade iteration of the series and features larger, more-detailed anime-style graphics (with all characters getting re-worked sprites) and revamped various gameplay mechanics (such as the new Tension Gauge, the updated Instant Kill, and the new Roman Cancel technique). It was later succeeded by Guilty Gear XX.
Taking place shortly after the events of Guilty Gear (where Sol Badguy, revealed to be the "Guilty Gear", destroys the powerful Gear Justice), the story follows a new mysterious self-reliant Gear emerging and the Union of Nations putting a bounty on it.
The game was ported to the Dreamcast exclusively in Japan (on December 14, 2000), to the PlayStation 2 in North America (on September 30, 2001) and Europe (by Virgin Interactive on March 1, 2002), and to the PC exclusively in Japan (by CyberFront on November 30, 2001). A handheld version (known as Guilty Gear X Advance Edition) was released for the Game Boy Advance in Japan (on January 5, 2002), in North America (on August 13, 2002), and in Europe (on September 27, 2002).
The game also received an enhanced Japan-exclusive port to the PlayStation 2 on November 29, 2001. Titled Guilty Gear X Plus, this version revamps the Story Mode (with branching paths and VN-style cutscenes) while adding a new challenge-based Mission Mode, multiple character versions ("EX" and "GG"), and the remaining two characters from the original Guilty Gear (Kliff and Justice).
An updated version of the game, known as Guilty Gear X Ver. 1.5, was released for the Dreamcast-based Atomiswave hardware exclusively in Japan on February 21, 2003. While it does not include the added characters from Plus, this version updates many characters' movelists, adds the Survival game mode from the console versions, adds an optional "Auto" play mode, and makes the boss characters playable from the start.
Much of the gameplay style from Guilty Gear are retained. However, there are many notable differences:
- The game now only uses four main buttons, with the Taunt and Respect buttons removed. Similar to other arcade fighting games, players can taunt in the arcade version using the player start button (with neutral Start performing the "Taunt" version that can be cancelled out of, and forward + Start performing the "Respect" version). In most console versions, this is delegated to a separate button.
- Both Chaos Gauge and Instant Kill, along with most of their corresponding mechanics, are completely revamped. See the Tension Gauge and Instant Kill sections for more details.
- The launcher attack (S + HS) is now known as the Dust Attack and is an overhead attack (where it cannot be guarded while crouching). Performing it while crouching instead performs a Sweep ("Ashibarai", or "Leg Sweep"), which knocks opponents down with no recovery.
- Players now have a Guard Gauge located below their health bar, which is used for both reducing the damage of lengthy combos and punishing over-defensive players. See the Guard Gauge section for more details.
- Initiating a Guard just before receiving an attack causes an Instant Block ("Chokuzen Guard", or "Last-Minute Guard"), reducing pushback and shortening blockstun.
- Players can no longer charge-up the effectiveness of certain special moves. They can also no longer perform Crash Attacks or mid-air turns.
The Chaos Gauge is now known as the Tension Gauge and fills up solely by aggressive actions (such as moving forward, hitting attacks, and getting hit by the opponent's attack). It can now be fully depleted by being over-defensive. As many techniques now use half of the Gauge, the Gauge itself is now color-coded to show how much its filled (blue for 0-49%, red for 50-99%, yellow for 100%). Taunting also raises the opponent's Gauge slightly.
Chaos Moves are now known as Overdrive Attacks and have an elaborate starting animation. Most Overdrive Attacks now consume 50% of the Tension Gauge, with some consuming the whole Gauge. As players now have a single lifebar, the Chaos Mode mechanic is removed.
The Perfect Guard technique, where players can consume the Tension Gauge to avoid chip damage, is now called Faultless Defense and is performed by pressing two attack buttons while blocking. It also now knocks back the opponent.
The Gamble attack, where players can cancel guards with a special counterattack, are now known as Dead Angle Attack and consumes 50% of the Tension Gauge. It is now performed by pressing Forward and two attack buttons while blocking. Players can no longer guard-cancel special moves.
A new technique, known as the Roman Cancel, allows players to cancel the recovery of most attacks (including Special and Overdrive), regardless if they are hit, blocked, or whiffed. Although it consumes 50% of the Tension Gauge, it allows players to reset their combo or prevent being punished from a blocked or whiffed attack.
As a tool both for reducing the damage of lengthy combos against aggressive opponents and for punishing over-defensive players, each player now has a Guard Gauge located below their health bar. This gauge starts half-way full, and returns to this amount regularly. It raises and lowers by performing certain actions:
- By receiving damage from attacks, the Gauge lowers. While the Gauge is below 50%, that player begins receiving less damage in the current combo (with more damage negated the closer the Gauge is to 0%). After the combo ends, the Gauge immediately returns to 50%.
- By blocking attacks, the Gauge raises. While the Gauge is above 75%, all hits against them are treated as Counter Hits (regardless of their current state). While it is above 50%, the Gauge drains down slowly.
The Sakkai state and its co-relating mechanics for the Instant Kill technique are removed. Instead, players have to activate their character's Instant Kill Mode ("Ichigeki Hissatsu Mode", or "One-Shot Deadly Mode") by pressing P+K+S+HS simultaneously and then attempting their character-specific command to attempt an Instant Kill.
While the Mode is active, the Tension Gauge begins depleting over time and no other technique using the Gauge can be used. If the Gauge is empty, it starts depleting the character's vitality (although it cannot fully deplete from this). The Mode can be cancelled by pressing P+K+S+HS again, leaving that character with an empty Gauge.
Players have only one chance per round for their Instant Kill to hit. If it is blocked or missed, the attack fails and players lose access to their Tension Gauge (and corresponding techniques) for the rest of the round.
Unlike the original game, hitting the attack no longer wins the entire match (instead winning that particular round).
Most of the characters from the original Guilty Gear return, with 4 new playable characters and 1 new final boss. Kliff Undersn and Justice do not make a return, although they are later added in the PS2 "Plus" version as hidden unlockables. Baiken, formerly a hidden boss, makes her debut in the starting roster.
There are a total of 16 fighters (18 in the PS2 "Plus" version).
- Johnny - An American bandit and the leader of a band of chivalrous pirates. A fierce womanizer, his crew is comprised solely of women. He fights with a Japanese-style wooden sword.
- Anji Mito - One of the few full-blooded Japanese left alive after Japan's destruction during the Crusades, Anji decides to conceal his origins and search for the one responsible for the destruction of his homeland: the creator of the Gears, known as "The Man". He fights with a pair of hand-held fans.
- Jam Kuradoberi - An aspiring Chinese chef who aims to become famous in the Chinese culinary world. She seeks to use the bounty to secure funds for her own restaurant. Unlike other fighters, she fights solely with martial arts.
- Venom - A British orphan who was adopted by a group of assassins led by Zato-1. With Zato failing to return to the guild after the tournament, Venom investigates a possible Zato sighting. He fights using a pool cue and magical billiard balls.
- Dizzy (final boss, unlockable in console versions and playable from the start in 1.5) - A mysterious self-reliant Gear who is believed to have no intention on hurting humans.
- Sol Badguy - Revealed in the last tournament to be the titular "Guilty Gear", Sol was the subject of bio-mechanical weapon research only to live through the Crusades as an American bounty hunter targeting other Gears. After defeating the self-reliant Gear Justice and hiding for a year, he sets off to investigate the news of a new self-reliant Gear.
- Ky Kiske - A talented French swordsman and the former young leader of the Sacred Order of Holy Knights. While investigating the tournament, he begins to question his sense of justice and the belief that all Gears are evil. Hearing that a new self-reliant Gear has no intention on hurting humans, he sets off to investigate. In the console-exclusive "Guilty Gear Mode", Ky acts in a mysterious robotic fashion (which later becomes the base for Robo-Ky).
- Millia Rage - A Russian orphan who was adopted by a group of assassins and trained to use her hair as a lethal weapon, only to betray the organization and its leader: Zato-1. After defeating Zato in the tournament, she develops complex feelings about the battle and, once Zato has been sighted, decides to hunt him down once and for all.
- Zato-1 - A mysterious Spanish assassin who becomes the leader of a group of assassins after invoking forbidden arts (sacrificing his sight for the ability to control his shadow). After his defeat from Millia Rage in the tournament, his shadow seized control of his body and begins seeking out its brethren.
- Potemkin - Formerly a slave soldier of the airborne military empire of Zepp (which, thanks to him during the tournament, becomes a peaceful civilization), Potemkin is given orders from the President of Zepp to safely recover the Gear being pursued.
- Faust - Formerly known as Dr. Baldhead, Faust is a brilliant Chinese physician who became a serial killer after being driven mad (as a girl under his care died mysteriously under his scalpel). During the tournament, he managed to regain his humanity and realized that it was someone else who caused the mishap. Donning a paper bag to forge a new identity, he now seeks the truth.
- Chipp Zanuff - An American ninja who strived for revenge against the mysterious group that murdered his master Tsuyoshi. During the tournament, he realizes he lacked devotion and decides to go back into training and finding his destiny.
- May - A cheerful young orphan who was adopted by a group of pirates led by the daring Johnny (who she develops a fierce crush on). Her goal is to use the bounty to buy Johnny a birthday gift.
- Axl Low - A 20th-century British hoodlum who was caught in a mysterious "time slip" and hurtled two centuries into the future. After years of searching for a way back home, he learns of another time traveler known as "The Man" and, believing that this person is affiliated with the Gear incident, searches for him.
- Baiken - A mysterious Japanese swordswoman who, despite missing her right arm and left eye, uses a variety of hidden weapons she carries in her unused sleeve. She searches for "The Man", who she believes was responsible for the Gears raid in her homeland.
- Testament (sub-boss, unlockable in console versions and playable from the start in 1.5) - A mysterious Gear who was revealed to be the mastermind behind the tournament as a way to free the powerful Gear known as Justice. Little is known about his whereabouts after Justice's destruction.
- Kliff Undersn (hidden unlockable, added in the PS2 "Plus" version)
- Justice (hidden unlockable, added in the PS2 "Plus" version)