By the DS' very design, it should come as no surprise that its games catalogue is such a hit and miss affair. So while developers with vision and know-how put the second screen, touch control and even microphone to great use to create original and compelling games, others often throw caution to the wind to simply try something new, seemingly without really thinking through whether it will even work or not. Guilty Gear Dust Strikers represents Arc System Works diving headlong in the second category on Sammy's behalf and within mere seconds of starting up the game, it's worryingly apparent that this isn't Guilty Gear as we'd like.
The game's box may carry the Guilty Gear name and the characters may all be present and correct but that's as far as connections to the series really go. The twin stacked screens of the DS really don't lend themselves to 2D fighting, which is presumably why Arc decided to opt for a 2d, vertical, Power Stone-esque affair more akin to Super Smash Bros. than anything Sammy has put its name to in recent years. And what an absolutely dreadful choice that proved to be. By DS standards, the shrunken characters still look pretty nice, albeit nowhere close to the hi-res sprites that the series so famously employs. In being hit with a shrink ray, character were forced to shed quite a few frames of animation as well. It's not that you'll be overly likely to notice on the small screens, but it still somewhat goes against the grain when the series has always had such high production values.
No, a drop in visual quality is to be expected on a handheld and this proves to be the least of the game's worries once you actually try to play it. A confused button layout is made worse still by the fact that most special moves have simply been mapped to the A button and a direction, murdering balance in all kinds of ways. With some characters, you can simply abuse the A button to build up decent combos while other fighters have been less fortunate in the move conversion process and end up almost redundant as a result. Specials are mostly mapped to that oh-so-tricky fireball command, making it almost impossible not to get them out exactly when you want them and bizarrely, even the most technical elements of the classic Guilty Gear games have been ported across to this butchered atrocity. Roman Cancels allow for move interrupts and juggle combos while Dust Strikes now send the recipient up or down one level on the multi-tiered playing field. In such a simple approximation of Guilty Gear, these elements are almost entirely without merit and could easily have been replaced with something more appropriate to the game's new style.