Guilty Gear XX: The Midnight Carnival (known in overseas console releases as Guilty Gear X2) 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 May 23, 2002.
The third main installment of the Guilty Gear series and the sequel to Guilty Gear X, Guilty Gear XX adds several new playable characters (including a new final boss, the mysterious "musician in red" known as I-No), a fifth attack button (the "Dust" button) and adds some new gameplay mechanic (such as the "Psych Burst", which uses a new "Burst Gauge" and can be used to break out of attacks). It also adds a revised soundtrack and updated visuals.
The game's story picks up two weeks after the disappearance of the Gear known as Dizzy, and involves a mysterious woman known as I-No causes turmoil wherever she goes. In addition, a new shadow organization (the Postwar Administration Bureau) begins their plan for world domination (mostly involving robotic copies of worldwide hero Ky Kiske).
The game was later ported to the PlayStation 2 in Japan (on December 12, 2002), North America (on February 4, 2003), and Europe (on March 7, 2003). It features some of the Plus additions from the Japanese PS2 release of Guilty Gear X (such as a full-fledged Story Mode with branching paths), in addition to a new game mode (M.O.M. Mode, an endless mode where players earn bonus score for collecting "medals" from hitting opponents and can only recover their vitality by collecting life pickups).
It received numerous arcade and console revisions from 2003 to 2012 under the "Guilty Gear XX" name (although some overseas releases have the "Guilty Gear X2" name), including #Reload, Slash, Accent Core, and Accent Core Plus R. It also received multiple spin-offs, including Guilty Gear Isuka, Guilty Gear Judgment, and Guilty Gear Dust Strikers.
Much of the gameplay from Guilty Gear X remains the same, with a few changes and new additions:
- A fifth attack button, known as Dust, was added. Dust Attacks and Sweeps are now performed with this button (standing and crouching, respectively), and players can now perform special mid-air attacks using it (knocking players away or down with no recovery). Some techniques requiring multiple attack buttons, such as the Faultless Defense, cannot be used with this button.
- A new Psych Burst technique is added, using a new Burst Gauge.
- When a Roman Cancel technique is used in very specific animation frames of certain moves (such as launching a projectile), it now becomes a False Roman Cancel, which glows blue and uses only 25% of the Tension Gauge (rather than glowing red and using 50% of the Gauge). Unlike normal RCs, this can be performed on a whiffed attack.
- Throws can now be performed mid-air against mid-air opponents.
- Some attacks now cause characters to "stagger", leaving them vulnerable for a significant amount of time (which can be shortened by wiggling the joystick left and right).
One major addition to the series is the Psych Burst: a technique which causes the character to emit a short-ranged burst of energy used for knocking back opponents. It uses a new per-player gauge, known as the Burst Gauge, which is filled up over time (and can be expediated by taking damage).
It can be performed by pressing both the Dust button and any other attack button (D + P/K/S/HS) and and can only be used when the Burst Gauge is full and the player is not dizzied or being hit by certain attacks (such as throws, Overdrive Attacks, and Instant Kills). It expends 2/3 of the Gauge (with certain exceptions expending the full Gauge), can interrupt attacks (with the exception of throws, some special moves, Overdrive Attacks, and Instant Kills), and can be blocked or whiffed. It has one of two effects:
- When in a neutral state (neither attacking, defending, nor being hit or knocked down), the Psych Burst is a golden color. This version is invincible to most attacks and, if it hits an opponent, fully replenishes the player's Tension Gauge.
- When in a defending, hit, or knockdown state, the Psych Burst is a blue color. While it can be used to escape dangerous situations, this version is vulnerable to attacks and, if blocked or whiffed, expends the entire Block Gauge.
- Zappa - A hopeless Australian romantic who believes he has a strange disease, only to end up possessed by numerous malevolent spirits (led by the sadistic S-Ko) while unconscious. He seeks the mysterious healer Faust to cure him of his apparent sickness.
- Bridget - The androgynous son of wealthy British aristocrats (raised as a woman due to superstitious issues involving twins), Bridget fights to prove himself as both a man and a worthy bounty hunter. He fights using both his yo-yo and a mechanical teddy bear named Roger.
- Slayer - A Romanian "nightwalker" and the founder of the Assassins' Guild, awakening from slumber after the guild's fall into chaos (due to Zato-1's disappearance). Cordial and well-mannered, he has many connections to the other fighters and fights with his supernatural strength.
- I-No (final boss) - A mysterious and vulgar woman who fights with an electric guitar and causes conflict wherever she goes. It is quickly revealed that she serves "That Man" and believes she acts in his best interest.
- Robo Ky (hidden unlockable, added in the PS2 version) - One of a series of mechanical androids created by a mysterious organization (the Postwar Administration Bureau) to track and analyze those who fought in previous tournaments. It shares many similarities (in both appearance and moveset) with Ky Kiske. Has no Story Mode.
- Sol Badguy - The titular "Guilty Gear", Sol was the subject of bio-mechanical weapon research only to become a bounty hunter targeting other Gears.
- Ky Kiske - A talented swordsman and a former leader of the Sacred Order of Holy Knights, becoming a central figure in the newly-created International Police Force.
- Millia Rage - Formerly part of the Assassins' Guild and trained to use her hair as a lethal weapon, only to betray the organization and its leader: Zato-1. She works with the International Police Force in dismantling the Guild and apprehending whats left of Zato-1.
- Zato-1 - Formerly the leader of a group of assassins after invoking forbidden arts (sacrificing his sight for the ability to control his shadow), only to become possessed with the shadow he once controlled (as it was a Forbidden Beast named "Eddie"). With the death of Zato-1, the Beast decides to find a new host.
- Potemkin - Formerly a slave soldier of the airborne military empire of Zepp, Potemkin helps form a rebellion that brings a new peaceful government to the floating continent. With Zepp's new leadership being more intrigued with Gears, Potemkin is sent to investigate.
- Faust - A brilliant physician who became the serial killer Dr. Baldhead after being driven mad (as a girl under his care died mysteriously under his scalpel), then regaining his humanity and forging a new identity to seek the truth about the surgery that caused him to become mad).
- Chipp Zanuff - A former drug addict who becomes a ninja and ends up seeking revenge against the mysterious group that murdered his master Tsuyoshi.
- May - A cheerful young member of a group of air bandits known as the Jellyfish (led by Johnny, who she developed a crush on).
- Axl Low - A 20th-century 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 "That Man" and, believing that this person is affiliated with the Gear incident, searches for him.
- Testament - A mysterious self-reliant Gear who forms a contempt for humanity after aligning with the powerful Gear known as Justice. After the destruction of Justice, he later forms a bond with the Gear known as Dizzy.
- Baiken - A mysterious swordswoman who desires revenge against the creator of the Gears for the destruction of her homeland.
- Johnny - The noble leader of a group of air bandits known as the Jellyfish, who takes in the Gear known as Dizzy as part of his all-women crew.
- Anji Mito - One of the few full-blooded Japanese left alive after Japan's destruction, Anji becomes curious about the Gears and decides to search for the man responsible for the Gears.
- Jam Kuradoberi - A reputable chef (and proficient user of Ki) who used the bounty on Dizzy to open a new restaurant, only to search for the one who burned it down.
- Venom - A criminal and top-ranking official in the Assassins' Guild after the disappearance of Zato-1.
- Dizzy - A half-human, half-Gear who resorted to living a peaceful life in a forest with no intention on harming humans. After a bounty was placed on her by the Union of Nations, she was defeated by Sol, only to be recruited to the band of air pirates known as the Jellyfish.
- Kliff Undersn (hidden unlockable, added in the PS2 version) - Has no Story Mode.
- Justice (hidden unlockable, added in the PS2 version) - While they have a Story Mode, it serves as a precursor to the events of the original Guilty Gear.