Review: Guilty Gear Judgement (Sony PSP)

Guilty Gear Judgement
Publisher: Majesco
Genre: 2-D Fighter/Brawler
Release Date: 09/XX/2006

The Guilty Gear series has developed a cult following from those who still yearn for the 1990s days of fighting glory in arcades. Now as the next generation emerges and 2D gaming becomes more of a distant memory, the appearance of full scale 2D games is somewhat of a rarity.

Enter Guilty Gear Judgement, the new fighting game for PSP. This unique PSP package not only has a traditional one on one fighting version of the series, but also a side scrolling brawler in the Streets of Rage/Final Fight mold.

Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s double the game, but are they worth the full priced purchase? Letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s see.

1. Story
There are two primary modes to Guilty Gear Judgement â┚¬” one is a fighter and one is a side scrolling brawler. They are separate games, but use the same graphics and sprites, just with different gameplay. The Fighting mode doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have as many modes as some versions of Guilty Gear, but still manages to cover the basics.

The fighter, Guilty Gear X2 Reloaded, was released on Xbox a couple years ago. The PSP game retains all the characters and levels, but some of the gameplay options, most notably the Story mode, is gone. Presumably the Guilty Gear Judgement side scroller supplants the fighter story, but the missing Mission mode is a bit of an oversight in its omission.

There is a bit of a storyline to the side scrolling game, although itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s not very deep and gameplay generally has no impact on it. This mode starts by choosing one of only four regular characters and throughout the 18 levels there are unlockable characters and such that reward the player.

Story Rating: 8/10

2. Graphics
Ah the joys of high-rez, widescreen 2D sprites. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s sometimes a wonder to think about the 2D masterpieces we would see had the industry not totally gone 3D and left 2D in the proverable dust.

The characters are large and fluid, and animate silky smooth. Special moves are sometimes spectacular and fill up the screen with color and effects. The level backgrounds are detailed and have some cool animations, but arenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t interactive.

The interface on the screen is detailed and compliments the gameplay nicely, as do the opening scenes and menus.

Overall Guilty Gear Judgement is a visually impressive 2D game that is especially vibrant and colorful on the PSPâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s widescreen.

Graphics Rating: 9/10

3. Sound
Whatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s great about Japan, for some at least, is that they have held onto the love of big guitars and sweeping rock epics like those of the 80s. The guitar rock soundtrack has been a trademark of the Guilty Gear series, and it sounds great coming out of the PSP speakers. There is also the epic announcer and plenty of great sound effects. Guilty Gear Reloaded doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t break a ton of new ground in the aural department, but it does everything very well and as a package, is impressive.

Sound Rating: 8/10

4. Control and Gameplay
The PSPâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s analog stick and D-pad have both come under fire for lack of precision in 2D fighters, something that was notable in Dark Stalkers and Street Fighter Alpha in particular. Guilty Gear is heavily reliant on the same 2D fighting techniques as those other games, and similar problems with executing some complex moves on the PSP controller exist. The D-pad doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t always respond to rotated motions, and getting a bunch of buttons at once with such a motion can be a challenge.

With that said, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s still a very competent 2D fighter with a wide variety of moves and combos, many of which are easy enough to pull off. Guilty Gear has been guilty (ha ha) of being a bit of a button masher at times, with impressive moves possible with a novice simply going crazy on buttons and motions. But seasoned players will find depth in the game as well.

The side scroller uses many of the moves and combos from the fighter. The game moves along a horizontal axis throwing a multitude of weaker bad guys to the wolves until bosses and mini bosses. These fights better resemble the one on one fights the series are known for, and are a bunch of fun.

The clunky PSP D-pad aside, Guilty Gear Judgement presents a boatload of old school 2D fighting gameplay, both in one on one form and side scrolling.

Control and Gameplay Rating: 7/10

5. Replayability
2D fighters tend to live or die on the ability to play against other human players, so it comes as a relief that the developers of Guilty Gear Reloaded added the ability to connect via Wi-Fi to play another player locally. This feature always sounds great in theory, but the problem comes when you actually want to play another human player that 1) has the game and 2) is nearby. It would have been cool to have full wifi net access.

Two full games make for a bunch of included gameplay, although the side scroller gets tiresome and repetitive at times. There is a good amount of replayability in the ability to play as many different characters, especially unlockable ones, but the gameplay remains fairly similar.

Replayability rating: 5/10

6. Balance
The fighter is the same Guilty Gear X2 Reloaded that appeared on Xbox a couple years back. It had a fairly balanced lineup of fighters, and the game hasnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t changed much. The side scroller is fairly easy, but some of the later bosses are a nice challenge.

Balance Rating: 7.5/10

7. Originality.
At what point does a formerly unoriginal genre become original again? There are nearly no remaining 2D fighting series still updating their games, and Guilty Gear has carved a niche for itself. The one on one fighting part of the package is a version released several years ago, but the side scrolling brawler is a new creation. Together in one package, they represent something not otherwise available for the PSP (or really any modern console).

If this game appeared on Super Nintendo, it would be lost in a sea of like games, although its style and gameplay would likely still separate it from the pack. But as it stands in 2006, Guilty Gear Reloaded comes off ultra original on a system with so many 3D genre clichÃÆ’©s.

Originality Rating: 6.5/10

8. Addictiveness
Even after the PSP has seen a number of Capcom 2D fighters on PSP, it is refreshing to see such large sprites and impressively high resolution animation. The ability to switch between two totally different games makes the game extra appealing â┚¬” tired of the fighter? Try some of the brawler.

The problem, however, is that the fighter is a re-released title that most buyers of the PSP version would likely have already spent time with. The brawler is fun in short bursts, but has a tendency of getting repetitive in long bursts.

Addictiveness Rating: 5/10

9. Appeal Factor
The PSP has been a surprisingly fertile place for 2D game fans, and Guilty Gear now is one of a handful of 2D fighters available on the system.

Longtime Guilty Gear fans would be immediately attracted to this package, both to play the figher on the go and to experience the new fleshed out side scroller. Other newer gamers used to Tekken and 3D fighting would have a good introduction to the splendor of 2D fighting with some facetime with Guilty Gear.

Appeal Factor: 6.5/10

10. Miscellaneous
The box art is well done and has a striking artistic view of the in game art style. However, the book is in black and white, typical for a PSP game, although somewhat lacking in what is essentially a hardcore gamerâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s title for a full $40 pricetag.

Majesco had the ability to release just Guilty Gear X2 Reloaded close to the PSPâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s launch, as it was released as a separate game in Japan. However, they opted to wait and also include the side scrolling brawler, perhaps at the request of Sony. It increases the value of the package considerably, because alone each game might not be strong enough to stand up on their own.

Miscellaneous Rating: 7/10

The Scores
Story: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Control & Gameplay: 6.5/10
Replayability: 5/10
Balance: 7.5/10
Originality: 6.5/10
Addictiveness: 5/10
Appeal Factor: 6.5/10
Miscellaneous: 7/10
Total Score 69/100
Final Score: 7.0 (Good!)



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