We love anime, that’s clear from the site’s name, right? One of the many reasons we love it so much happens to be how incredibly accessible it is now. While older otaku had to suffer through times when anime was only found in the form of VHS tapes, DVDs and the occasional televised broadcast, the fanboys and girls of today can easily wrap themselves in its comforting arms on streaming services, conventions, and news sites (definitely not a plug) which all but proves that anime kicks ass in any environment.
Such is the ethos of the anime fighting game genre, whose unspoken mission statement is to combine the two media in its name as seamlessly as possible to create the perfect interactive experience. And we don't mean combine by just using a particular style of character models, this fighting game subgenre seeks to replicate the unstoppable bombast and commitment to everything over-the-top you'll recognize from your favorite anime in its every facet, from its presentation to its gameplay, to its story and so much more.
Though normally a somewhat underground style of game, anime fighting games have slowly been gaining more exposure through the hype-train generated by Guilty Gear Strive: The upcoming 2020 iteration of the classic Guilty Gear series which has been making bigger and bigger waves throughout the fighting game community, mainstream gaming outlets and even a few anime fans thanks to its many hype trailers and gameplay showcases. So, from one Guilty Gear newcomer to what we assume to be several others, let’s go over all the information currently available on the game and find out just how anime Guilty Gear Strive is.
Guilty Gear Strive comes to us courtesy of Arc System Works, the kings of anime fighting games responsible for such recent breakthrough hits as BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Both found success thanks to their use of beloved licensed characters, beautiful artwork and intelligent animation. Strive may not have any characters newbies will be familiar with, but it still has the presentation chops to match—and arguably surpass—its predecessors.
At a glance, you may think the characters are hand-drawn sprites, but in reality, they're fully-fledged 3D models, just ones that look that good. You may be confused as to why they would emulate 2D in 3D instead of just using 2D sprites outright, but this direction allows for tons of advantages that drawn character animation (as much as we love it) simply can't do practically.
The already brilliant graphics are complemented by a beautiful dynamic CG lighting engine allowing for beautiful shading and certain attacks are underscored by choreographed camera movements that emphasize the hell out of the ensuing impact. The visuals remain faithful to their anime inspiration, though, by replicating its most iconic stylings such as an emphasis on powerful key poses, effects animation popping all over the place and an overall disposition to being as kinetic and impactful sure to remind players of their favorite shonen series. Add some equally on-point facial animation to the mix and you've got the best-looking fighting game on the market.
Anytime a game tries to make itself look this wild it understandably creates an expectation in players that it should feel like just as much of a spectacle to play and, based on early reports, Guilty Gear is striving not to make that an empty promise. Movement and attacks flow just as smoothly as they look and have the speed to match. Speaking of speed, Strive has several unique traits that keep matches moving just as fast as your favorite anime fights with the filler shots taken out. Knockdowns are rare, end lag on certain attacks can be canceled into others and counter hits can open up opportunities for massive combos that can turn lifebars to mincemeat.
If that last note made you wince at the idea of having to spend hours learning ultra-precise combo inputs, don't worry as there are many other ways to do crazy amounts of damage like off of risky but rewarding individual moves. It's not all about offense though, as Strive sports several defensive options to make you feel like you're at Ultra Instinct. We're talking about things like the ability to block midair and even mid-dash, automatic combo escapes, the faultless defense mechanic which protects from any attack while pushing the opponent away and other great ways to get overly persistent opponents off of you. This mix of incredibly powerful offensive and defensive options not only fortifies the game's over-the-top allure but promises to welcome all types of playstyles.
Speaking of accounting for everybody, we mentioned earlier that Guilty Gear Strive will not be featuring characters anyone who hasn't played previous entries would know, but everyone can still find a character they gravitate to amongst the immediately likable original cast that covers all the most classic anime archetypes while boasting unique personality traits to help them stand out.
At the time of writing, the confirmed roster members are aloof rebel with a heart of gold and a misleading name, Sol Badguy; his genius justice-abiding bishonen rival Ky Kiske; cheerful young superpowered pirate May, who would not be out of place in the world of One Piece; time traveling ladies-man badass Axl Low; Chipp Zanuff, the quick-tempered classic anime ninja with the after-images and everything; gentle giant with a deceptively high intellect and higher grappling damage, Potemkin; reality-bending doctor Faust who seems to have a Ph.D. in wackiness; a new as-of-yet unnamed samurai character we don't know anything about yet other than his design, which looks sweet; and more promised to come.
If everything you’ve been reading for the past 5 minutes or so hasn’t tipped you off yet, the answer to our original question is that we think that Guilty gear Strive is very anime indeed. But like with anything, it’s not the anime on your screen that counts, but the anime in your heart, so let us know how anime you think the game is in the comments.