The directors of Guilty Gear -Strive- have insisted they did not censor I-No, but made her more accessible, along with gameplay.
Directors Daisuke Ishiwatari and Akira Katano were recently interviewed by Famitsu, with that being shared at large by Ryokutya2089 (a blogger dedicated to sharing news from Japanese print magazines). Both discussed the changes in Strive compared to older games in the series (translation: DeepL).
Ishiwatari explained that it is hard to attract new players if you were to make an extension on what had been done before, and that they were conscious of the global market development. “Development costs are increasing, but the number of users is decreasing. We want to make the GG brand known to as many people as possible so that they will play our games.”
Katano also stated he “wanted to make a complete change somewhere.” Mechanically (and as mentioned on the Guilty Gear Fandom wiki), dropping Xrd Blitz Shield/Attack and Danger Time, Dead Angle Attacks, altering recovery motions, only sweeping moves causing knockdown (so all characters have an invincible roll when they hit the ground).
While the R.I.S.C. Gauge returns, combos are “relatively short,” but counter-hits deal increased damage and hit-stun. This also increases the rate the R.I.S.C. Gauge fills, so longer combos may be needed to prevent your opponent from benefiting from being pummeled. Many stun an stagger effects have been removed from moves, but new effects such as shocked can be caused by special moves and stage transitions.
Speaking of; a new mechanic for Strive is Wall-Break; knocking a character off their when in a corner will cause them to slam against the wall and slowly slide down. Shoudl they continue to be attacked during this, the wall will break, and players will transition into a new part of the stage. This grants a large boost to Tension and damage, along with character-specific buffs to compensate.
Returning to the interview, the directors explained they made sure the shorter combos would still work, and cut common techniques when considering the pro and cons. They stated (in Ryokutya’s words) “We’re trying to make sure that people from all walks of life have the same starting point.”
This may also explain why Strive‘s story mode is to be enjoyed “like you would a movie, No input from your controller is required.” We previously reported how the game’s Arcade Mode takes characters through their story, but with different paths depending on how well they fight. Should they struggle, other characters can jump in to help.
One change fans may not be happy with is the new design for I-No. While previous incarnations had shown her with a small red jacket covering her exposed breasts, Strive has her wearing a short black shirt with a large collar tied into a bra. Her short skirt are now even smaller shorts, somewhat covered by a giant belt and long skirt-like cloth at the rear.
The directors insisted I-No’s new costume was more mature but not (in Ryokutya’s words) a “restriction,” but “a change in expression to make the game more accessible to more people.” They also explained it was brave decision not to include Venom at release, and that the DLC would have a mix of new and existing characters.
The insistence on I-No not being censored was likely born of the ongoing censorship of sexual elements and fanservice in other anime-styled games. Some may have believed that it was motivated by fears of what can be shown on PlayStation platforms, and at fighting game tournaments.
In late December 2018, SIE Japan Asia President Atsushi Morita stated the then recent spate of censorship of anime-styled sexual content on PlayStation 4 games had been “to meet global standards.” This censorship was seemingly forced in Japan.
On March 18th, 2021, Sony Interactive Entertainment and RTS (an esports event management specialist) announced they acquired the rights to EVO. EVO 2021 Online had previously been cancelled; due to multiple allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against co-founder and then CEO Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar, as well as other prominent members of the fighting game community.
Guilty Gear -Strive- will be appearing at EVO Online, and the Evo Community Series’ PlayStation 4 Tournaments; running ahead of EVO 2021 Online.
Bandai Namco Entertainment- the game’s European publisher- also retweeted positive reviews from Eurogamer and NME. The former stated “Finally, a Guilty Gear for all fighting game fans,” and held an earlier interview with Ishiwatari on how he aimed to make “one of the most complex fighting games around finally accessible.”
NME stated in their review “The pace is not quite as blistering as previous titles, and series stalwarts may find the streamlining too much to bear, but Strive shows real potential for depth of personal expression.”
What do you think? Was Strive made less convoluted, or less complex? Is I-No a product of censorship, or mass appeal? Has the game been made more casual? Sound off in the comments below.
Guilty Gear -Strive- launches June 11th, 2021 on Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. The Deluxe and Ultimate edition is available now.