The Missing Link, An Antithesis to the Average Fighting Game


Daisuke Ishiwatari set out to create a fighting game with this exact description in 1996 to break the mold of “reality grounded” fighting games like Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter, The King of Fighters, and so on. What came from this venture wasn’t the 3D fighting game he originally envisioned due to PS1 console limitations, but a hand drawn, gritty, and fast paced masterpiece that started a series played until this day.

1998’s Guilty Gear: The Missing Link was met with praise, and the newly formed Arc System Works had been contracted for a sequel, which luckily Ishiwatari had prepared for as soon as the first game’s release.

Guilty Gear’s sequel, Guilty Gear X released in 2000 for Japanese arcades and the Dreamcast. It was also ported to the PlayStation 2 in the following year. GGX was a step up in all areas from its big brother. The upgrade in controls greeted us with the first implementation of the current Guilty Gear button layout and introduced players to the new mechanic, Roman Cancels. The game had a healthy tournament presence (yes that’s Johnny in grand finals, he was god tier back then too) and was re-released twice. Once in X ver. 1.5 for arcades and again in X Plus for PS2, an enhanced port adding extra characters.

However, out of every previous Guilty Gear installment none are as celebrated as the third installment Guilty Gear: XX/X2, which received a healthy batch of 5 updated versions. The original version sat in the seat of the 117th best-selling title in Japan 2002. It and the 3 updated versions (X2#Reload, XX Slash, and XX Accent Core) that followed garnered nothing but positive praise from most gaming aggregators. The tournament scene grew alongside each version of XX. Throughout each installment of Guilty Gear from 2002 until its true sequel (Xrd), the competitive scene increased, with many of the players becoming household names in the fighting game community. Daigo, Tokido, Mago, Kindevu, Nemo, Ogawa, Kazunoko, Eiji, Teresa, Woshige Dogura, and Omito to name a few -wink wink-.


Fun Fact: Ironically enough, the most loved versions of XX, Accent Core Plus and Accent Core Plus R were the most critically panned by gaming aggregators.

In 2014 Arc System Works would finally release not an update, but a full successor to Guilty Gear XX. That successor was Guilty Gear Xrd and it is the current version of Guilty Gear being played in tournaments and the first installment to use the revolutionary Arc System Works 3D cel-shaded models over the traditional 2D hand drawn sprites. Having been through 3 versions from 2014 until now (-Sign-, Revelator, and Revelator 2) Guilty Gear has regained its place in the fighting game scene with tours and a strong player base behind it.

I got some words on the current state of Xrd from top player Kizzie Kay and here’s what he had to say:\

Q: How do you feel about the current state of Xrd along the lines of competition and meta?

“The state of the competition is pretty stagnant in terms of the good players but here and there a rising player will do good but after that he wouldn't have the same momentum as he did last event. As far as the meta goes the current game patch is about strong range, damage, and vortex. If you have those 3 most of the time your character is probably very strong. Johnny is an example of having all 3 of these traits. Damage alone isn’t the best but vortex and strong range is more consistent. So at the moment, most characters have the ability to win due to how this game is evolving. Most of the mid and low tier do damage as well.

As for the players the stronger players are still strong, but I feel most of them have stagnated a lot and haven't changed. Some have really been putting the effort into improving and have really great discussions about matches. So those players I really like when they do that.

Q: How do you feel about Guilty Gear’s future?

“I think it’s bright. The competition from all regions are basically closed now. Any player from any country is at risk. The issue right now is the numbers here aren’t big on the international level, but we have great teachers and I feel that would be fixed by the next patch or Guilty Gear title.”

I want to see more of the players who are stagnant in their gameplay speak out or try to learn from the players who aren't stagnant at all. I think there's a huge disconnect and it's hard to grow with that type of issue.

— Kizzie Kay

As you can see currently Guilty Gear is in a good spot both critically and competitively and there’s nowhere else to go but up from here. So keep labbing that Raven matchup and grinding those burst bait setups because this series won’t be going anywhere for a while.

About the Author

De'Angelo Epps

De'Angelo is a writer with a huge love for playing and writing about fighting games (along with countless other game genres).