Guilty Gear (also known as Guilty Gear: The Missing Link) is a 2D sci-fi fantasy fighting game developed and published by Arc System Works for the Sony PlayStation in Japan on May 14, 1998. It was later released in North America (by Atlus on October 31, 1998) and Europe (by Studio 3 in May 2000).
The first original fighting game developed by Arc System Works (from the production group known as "Team Neo Blood", led by Daisuke Ishiwatari), Guilty Gear features themes inspired by seinen manga, anime-style character sprites, a heavy metal soundtrack, and a distinct fast-paced gameplay system. It later received numerous sequels, starting with Guilty Gear X.
The story is set in futuristic 2180, five years after the end of the "Crusades" (a century-old conflict between mankind and bio-mechanical living weapons known as "Gears", created using an unlimited energy source known as "magic"). Although the Gear leader Justice was imprisoned (in a seemingly-impenetrable dimensional prison) by the military group "Sacred Order of Holy Knights", the Union of Nations noticed the walls of the prison eroding and organized a no-holds-barred fighting tournament to form a new Sacred Order and prepare for Justice's return.
It was digitally re-released via PlayStation Network (as a PSOne Classics title) for supporting consoles in Japan (on May 31, 2007) and Europe (on August 6, 2009). It was also ported to the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC as a digital release on May 16, 2019, with the Switch version included in the 2019 Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition compilation.
The game plays similar to most other 2D fighting games, such as the Street Fighter and King of Fighters series. It uses four attack buttons of ascending strength (Punch, Kick, Slash, and Heavy Slash), as well as two special buttons (Taunt and Respect).
Techniques in this game include:
- The game includes a universal chain combo system, known as the Gatling Combination, that allows players to link normal attacks of a similar or higher attack into combos. The order is P -> K -> S -> HS -> S + HS.
- Like most fighting games, the game includes special moves that are performed with a specific joystick and button combination. Unlike most games, most special moves only use one button, rather than multiple strength buttons (such as LP and LK). Special moves can be performed while blocking.
- Dashing across the screen by double-tapping Forwards or Backwards on the joystick. Dashes can be performed in mid-air. The front-facing ground dash can be held into a continuous running motion. Special move combinations that end with Forward on the joystick can be "dash-modified" to launch the character forward while performing it.
- Charge a specific special move (one per character) to increase the effectiveness of the next attempt of that special move (up to three levels). Charging is done by inputting a variation of that special move (using the Respect button) and leaves the character vulnerable (although they can cancel out of it).
- A special launcher attack (S + HS) that launches opponents into the air when hit. This can be followed-up (by pressing Upwards on the joystick) to begin a new air combo.
- Throwing an opponent (F/B + Heavy Slash).
- Perform a higher Super Jump by tapping Downwards on the joystick before jumping.
- Perform a Down Avoidance technique (Up + any button) as the character is being knocked down to quickly recover.
- Initiating one of two taunts, one by pressing the Taunt button and one by pressing the Respect button. The Taunt version is cancelable.
- Turning in mid-air by pressing the Taunt button for advanced cross-ups.
One unique aspect of attacking is Clashing (or "Sousai"), in which a situation where both players hit each-other with close-ranged attacks at the same time causes neither character to get hit. While clashed, characters can cancel it into other attacks.
The game utilizes a super meter system known as the Chaos Gauge, which accumulates every time the player lands or guards a hit. When it is full, players can expend it to perform a character-specific super special move, known as the Chaos Move (or "Kakusei Hissatsu-waza", lit. "Awakening Deadly Technique"). Players can also perform two additional techniques when the Chaos Gauge is full:
- A guard-cancelling counterattack (known as Gamble), by tapping forward and Kick while blocking. This expends the gauge.
- A dash tackle attack (known as Crash) by colliding with an enemy at a certain point during a long dash.
Similar to the Real Bout Fatal Fury games, the game utilizes a dual-layer lifebar (green and yellow), and when the first (green) layer is depleted, the character enters Chaos Mode and can perform an unlimited amount of Chaos Moves without depleting the Chaos Gauge.
In addition, the Chaos Gauge can be used during a Perfect Guard to negate chip damage from special moves. This technique is performed by holding the Respect button while blocking, and expends part of the gauge for each attack blocked.
One unique gameplay mechanic is the Instant Kill technique (or "Ichigeki Hissatsu-waza", lit. "One-Shot Sure-Killing Technique"), which allows players to prematurely win the match, regardless of rounds won and opponent vitality, using a risky single hit.
In order to perform this technique, players must enter a unique temporary state (known as "Sakkai", or "Killing Realm") either by one player landing a P+K starter attack (also known as "Sakkai Hissatsu-waza", lit. "Killing Realm Deadly Technique") or by one player guarding a specific attack at the right moment. During this state, players must either input a specific command (QCF + P/K/S/HS) to attempt the attack or another specific command (QCB + P/K/S/HS) to evade it. If the attack lands, regardless of the opponent's guarding state, the attacker prematurely wins the match.
The game includes 13 playable characters, 3 of which are the game's bosses and must be unlocked prior to play.
- Sol Badguy - An apathetic American bounty hunter who previously deserted the Sacred Order of Holy Knights (stealing the blade known as "Fireseal" for himself), entering the tournament for a mysterious purpose. He fights with fire-based attacks and has a mysterious power.
- Ky Kiske - A disciplined French police officer and the former young leader of the Sacred Order of Holy Knights (using the bladed known as "Thunderseal"). After becoming suspicious of certain things about the tournament, he decides to don his old Order regalia and enter it to investigate. He fights with lightning-based attacks and has a bitter rivalry with Sol Badguy.
- Chipp Zanuff - An American ninja who studied under the ninja Tsuyoshi after being rescued by him (as Chipp was the target of his former gang superiors for being addicted to the drugs he was supposed to peddle). After Tsuyoshi was murdered by a mysterious organization, Chipp enters the tournament to find the culprit. Incredibly agile, he fights with a unique under-arm blade.
- Kliff Undersn - A retired Swiss war hero and Ky's predecessor as the leader of the Sacred Order of Holy Knights, who studies the fighting techniques of various cultures. After sensing a possible resurrection of Justice, he enters the tournament to investigate. Despite his old age, he fights with the gigantic blade "Dragonslayer".
- Axl Low - A 20th-century British hoodlum who was caught in a mysterious "time slip" and hurtled two centuries into the future. After two years in this new time period, he enters the tournament as a last-ditch effort to find a way back home. He has unusual martial arts prowess and fights with dual kusarigamas that are linked together (similar to nunchucku).
- Zato-ONE - A mysterious Spanish assassin who becomes the leader of a group known as the "Assassins" after invoking forbidden arts (sacrificing his sight to gain enhanced senses and the ability to control shadows). After being betrayed by fellow Assassin Millia Rage and imprisoned, he enters the tournament for revenge after being confronted by a mysterious figure. He fights with his own shadow.
- Potemkin - A massive slave soldier of the Zepp military empire (which resides on a gigantic airship). Not a violent person by nature, Potemkin is forced to enter the tournament by Zepp's leaders (to expand their empire) as he wears an anti-desertion bomb collar. Hulking in nature, he fights with a pair of powerful gauntlets.
- 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). After Johnny becomes incarcerated for stealing from the well-off (to aid those in need), May enters the tournament to bail him out. She fights with nautical-based attacks and wields a giant anchor.
- Millia Rage - A Russian orphan who was adopted by a group known as the "Assassins" and trained to use her hair as a lethal weapon. Wanting no part in the organization, she betrays them (leading to the arrest of leader Zato-ONE) and goes into hiding. She enters the tournament to fight Zato and bring an end to the Assasins once and for all. Her fighting style incorporates her long hair.
- Dr. Baldhead - A brilliant Chinese physician who became a serial killer after being driven mad (as a girl under his care died mysteriously under his scalpel). After being imprisoned for his crimes, he enters the tournament for freedom after being confronted by a mysterious figure. He fights with a giant scalpel.
- Testament (sub-boss, unlockable) - A mysterious Gear whose goal is to free Justice and eliminate humanity. He wields a scythe and can conjur demons to do his bidding.
- Justice (final boss, unlockable) - The former leader of the Gears during the Crusaders and the first Gear to possess sentience, using their power to command other Gears.
- Baiken (hidden boss, unlockable) - A mysterious Japanese swordswoman who is missing both her right arm and left eye. She wields a katana and has many hidden weapons in the sleeve of her right arm.