Guilty Gear Dust Strikers

Platform(s): Nintendo DS
Genre: Action
Publisher: Majesco


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NDS Review - 'Guilty Gear Dust Strikers'

by Rusty Bailey on May 19, 2006 @ 12:35 a.m. PDT

Guilty Gear Dust Strikers features all 21 Guilty Gear characters from previous versions in a battle that takes place on multiple levels across both DS screens. Navigate different types of floors and traps as you battle against the computer or via wireless multi-player connections.

Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Arc System Works
Release Date: April 25, 2006

While many Guilty Gear fans were excited about a new addition to the franchise on the Nintendo DS, the results were unexpected. Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers takes the traditional 2-D fighter gameplay with a dash of Smash Bros. for an entirely new Guilty Gear experience. Just how well does this battle royal style fare with the Guilty Gear series?

When you boot up GG:DS, you are instantly given some of the hardest insane rock music ever heard in a video game. Immediately, you think to yourself, "Wow, this is going to be one hardcore game." Of course, after only a few minutes of playtime, one is left disappointed by the experience. Aren't crazy guitars supposed to equate to awesome gameplay? What happened to my Guilty Gear?

Basically, Majesco decided to give Guilty Gear more of a party feel. Instead of the standard two-fighter battles, up to four characters can be in the fight at once. Not only are there more characters taking part, but the stages cover both of the DS' screens. Taking the approach of Smash Bros., Dust Strikers changes up the Guilty Gear formula by having multi-platform arenas. Aside from the battle royal style, there is also an addition of items, which can be used by pressing an icon on the touch-screen.

While Dust Strikers possesses the party feel similar to Smash Bros., it tries to have much more complex fighting system than the Nintendo fighter. Characters have weak and strong attacks, which can be used in tandem to create various combos, and also have special moves that, when combined with different directions, make the most diverse attacks. Another interesting addition to the game is the Dust Strike, an attack used to send opponents to different levels of the stage, akin to the Dust move of previous games. Also seeing a return is the Psych Burst, a move that sucks up your tension gauge but makes you invincible for a second while launching the opponent into the air.

Unfortunately, it seems Dust Strikers lacks defensive moves, which is frustrating in a game where you are constantly being attacked from all sides. You can press down on the directional pad to guard and use a Forced Roman Cancel to strengthen your defense while being attacked with a Special Move, but aside from those two, you are frequently relying on items to stay alive.

Throughout a match, items appear for you to pick up and use during battle. They range from attack items like Lightning, which summons a lightning bolt from the sky, to defensive items, such as Meat or Tension Max, which restore your health and tension gauge, respectively. These items reappear often and are imperative to surviving four-player matches.

At the main menu, you are offered two traditional single-player options from which to choose. You can go to Arcade Mode and methodically battle it out with every character, or you can opt for Story Mode, which is essentially the same thing, with a little dialogue in between and a final boss to round it off. There isn't much "story" to it, though. You either have characters arguing over who is hot, or you have them all talking about completely different things. If you take out the dialogue and the final boss, you have an experience wholly identical to Arcade Mode.

In addition to the two single-player modes, you have Versus and Challenge modes to battle it out against your pals. Dust Strikers requires every player to own a copy of the game, though, so bumming off your friend for a few quick matches is not an option. In Versus Mode, up to four players can connect to each other and duke it out for first place. On the other hand, Challenge Mode allows you to play Arcade Mode while waiting for an opponent to wirelessly challenge you to a fight. While four-player battles are great fun, the multiplayer experience would have been richer had it included single-cartridge play for friends who do not own the game. Other games, like Mario Kart DS and Tetris DS, have multiplayer experiences that benefit from allowing everyone in on the experience.

As well as having 20 characters to choose from, there is also a create-a-character mode called Robo-Ky Factory. You essentially start off with an empty shell of a fighter, and as you unlock moves in the mini-games, you can assign up to six different attacks to Robo-Ky. The problem is that they are all moves from other characters, so there is nothing new here, and Robo-Ky only ends up being an amalgam of all the other characters.

The way you earn these moves for Robo-Ky is implemented through the mini-games. The games include May's Dolphin Show, Yo-Yo Polish, Balance Game, Hit Down, Note Captures, Venom's Billiards, and Sword Master. Each one is simplistic in gameplay, and all of them use the touch-screen for control. Some of them are interesting, such as Hit Down, where you have to tap Faust every time he pops out of a door, but for the most part, they are all way too easy. To acquire the different moves for Robo-Ky, all you have to do is place third or better on any of the mini-games. The games are quite easy, so within no time, you will have earned every move.

That in itself is a real problem with GG:DS. Sure, you have the various moves to earn, but beyond that, there is nothing to unlock. They give you all the initial characters in the beginning, and there are no new game modes to unveil. Having 20 different characters' stories to play through doesn't help either, because they all blur together due to the incomprehensible dialogue. What this game really needed is a reason for the player to occasionally come back and play again.

The gameplay isn't too hot, but at least the graphics aren't lacking. The movement of each fighter is very smooth, and the character models remind one of the Castlevania series. They may all be small, but they cover a good amount of detail in the tiny area. Unfortunately, since you're not playing on a large television, it's difficult to tell what is going on when everyone is fighting on the same little screen.

Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers is something that should've been a no-brainer. Sadly, with the addition of party elements and lack of unlockables, the game just doesn't live up to its predecessors. You might just want to stick with Guilty Gear X2 until they release a real sequel to the franchise.

Score: 6.0/10

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