Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers

The question still remains as to whether Arc System Works can pull off a decent Guilty Gear game on a system with the limitations of the DS. That's not a knock against the DS of course, it's just that Guilty Gear, one of the last great 2D fighting game series', and by far the prettiest 2D fighting game ever, is sure to present challenges to the DS hardware. We're guessing that's just one of the reasons why Arc decided to deviate from the series' hardcore 2D fighting elements, instead opting for a zoomed-out, arena styled fighting game in the vein of the ever-popular Super Smash Bros.

Similar to Nintendo's mascot slugfest, Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers pits you and up to three additional fighters in multitiered arenas, spanning both of the DS's screens. Each stage is essentially a remixed version of levels that have appeared in previous Guilty Gear outings, with power-ups littering each to give an edge to those skilled enough to snag and use them. Sound different? Well not only that, but when you take into account the aspect ratio of the dual screens, it's obvious that a lot of the action will maintain a vertical orientation. That fact alone could make Dust Strikers a difficult adjustment for fighting game purists.

But really, if you are a fighting game purist, and you don't enjoy anything that strays away from the basic mechanics of your average 2D brawler, it's evident that the latest "experiment" in the Guilty Gear series may not be for you. You probably belong to the same group of people still asserting to this day that Super Smash Bros. Melee doesn't qualify as a fighting game. Indeed, purists may not like the fact that the characters in Dust Strikers don't auto switch their positions on the fly in relation to their enemies. This is due to the nature of the arena styled fighting game, remember, this isn't your normal one-on-one slugfest. Secondly, the moves themselves have been infinitely simplified to accommodate the pick-up-and-play portable experience, while the move lists have been significantly shortened as well. For those of you still reading, don't sweat it, the series' trademarked special attacks are still abundant; they're just much easier to pull off on the DS. Lastly, we can't forget the cleverly-named Dust Striker moves, which are power moves similar to that of the smash attacks featured in Super Smash Bros.

There's plenty to keep long time fans of the Guilty Gear series interested in the game, though. The roster includes 21 characters from past romps, in addition to an even half-dozen modes of play. The modes range from arcade mode to survival mode, with local multiplayer action, and bonus mini games tossed in amongst them. Of course multiplayer mode allows you and three human controlled opponents to go at it something furious, and that's really where this game has the opportunity to shine. Simply put, there's plenty here to keep you coming back for more, so while the Dust Strikers may be lacking depth when compared to its home-console brethren, the sheer amount of things to do goes a long way in redeeming the simplified gameplay.

Guilty Gear Dust Strikers may be a blast to play alone, the 10 mini games themselves feature tons of variety, but if you're planning to pick the game up, it'll probably be worth it to convince your friends to do likewise. Judging from heated experiences with other games that retain similar gameplay, multiplayer is where you're bound to get the most out of this investment. Meanwhile, those who automatically dismiss the game because it's not a true Guilty Gear title are missing the point. It still features the things that made the series noteworthy in the first place - crazy characters, brought to life with some of the best animation this side of Disney.