Judging by the imported copy we've been playing for the last week or two, Guilty Gear X is just such a breed of fighter. Upon sticking it into the VGA box and outputting it to our 19" monitor, it was fairly obvious that it is far more "VGA compatible" than any of the games Capcom claims are. Running at a crystal clear 640x480, it resembles a living, choreographed martial arts flick, with anime overtones. It really has to be seen in motion; the tiniest details in the background can be made out, with high res character models capturing the essence of the game beautifully. The level of animation is just right - a major problem in games of its ilk. Capcom in particular are often guilty of going over the top with animation - Guilty Gear X offers a pleasant go-between. Actually once you've witnessed the game first hand, the only thing you are liable to find slightly annoying is the over-exaggeration of detail in some of the backdrops, presenting a bit of a muddle.
Apart from the graphics, Guilty Gear X also seems to excel at offering a very balanced style of gameplay. The characters available to you don't differ greatly from one to another in terms of abilities, each sporting a blade and the ability to slash and hi-slash as well as the usual punch, kick and jump, but whoever is chosen, it is very rarely anything other than the execution of the correct manoeuvre at the right time that decides the bout. If you can find a friend of fairly equal ability you will enjoy some seriously tense encounters. But then you could say that about quite a few fighters. What makes Guilty Gear X stand apart from them is its use of the Tension Gauge and resultant "Overdrive Attacks". The Tension Gauge is fundamentally a "Supers" bar, which charges with each offensive move, maxing out quite quickly and allowing the combatant to execute one of his Overdrive Attacks. These are executed using Street Fighter style thumb pad jiggery polkery. Amongst the moves on offer are "Dead Angle," which blocks offensive moves, "Instant Kill," which is rather like a bullet to the temples, as well as "Roman Cancel," which enables you to cancel an already-underway attack, in essence a complex way of fooling your opponent by feigning, "Faultless Defence," a kind of temporary forcefield and "Dust Attacks," which are aerials.
Although it still needs to go some way before it's up there with the speed and fluidity of Capcom's "Turbo" beat 'em ups at their highest level, Guilty Gear X is still a remarkable fighter, exorcising a lot of Capcom's demons for them, including button bashing, which has no place here. And like Capcom's titles, it totally defies the third dimension, making a mockery of most lower-end 3D fighters. We can only hope someone picks this up for release in the West, because it has the potential to be something truly special.