The Guilty Gear series has been going for more than a decade now. However, rather than make the switch to polygonal characters, it remains unwaveringly defiant, sticking with its hand-drawn 2D sprites and backgrounds.
The game is all the better for it because each of the 23 characters is beautifully animated and brimming with personality. This may not be one of the most technically impressive games available for the Wii, but it's easily one of the most aesthetically stylish.
Guilty Gear's fighting system is very much focused on combos. Whereas games like Street Fighter require your timing to be perfect if you're going to execute a combo, the margin of error here is greatly increased - so it's a lot easier to pull off impressive combos.
That's not to say that the game is less challenging because your opponent will have exactly the same advantage. This results in fast-paced, over-the-top battles.
Other interesting gameplay mechanics help make Guilty Gear unique. With the Instant Kill move, you can defeat an opponent with a single move. When you trigger the first stage (powering up), your energy will decrease at a rapid pace, so you'll need to pull off the second stage (the actual move) quickly. If you miss the move, you'll lose your Tension bar for the rest of the round, this being your key to more powerful moves and special blocks.
It makes for exciting moments where you might be taking a kicking for most of the round and decide you'll try to turn the tables with an Instant Kill as a last resort, tricky though it may be.
Guilty Gear's downfall is that it's not very user-friendly. We didn't know about the Instant Kill move from playing the game - we had to find a guide on the internet. You can bring up a command list, but this doesn't help since it just consists of unlabelled and unexplained button combinations. There isn't any text telling you when to perform the move, what conditions your various gauges have to be in, or even what the move is called.
There's also an unfortunate lack of online multiplayer, but thankfully the single-player modes are plentiful. Most appealing is a hefty Story mode which consists of individual, unique storylines with full voice acting for all 23 characters, which will take you an awful long time to get through.
Guilty Gear is well worth a look if you're a fan of one-on-one fighting games and it's cheap, too (it retails at £24.00 but we've found one well known online retailer selling it for £13.99) As long as you're willing to put the time in and get through the Initially unwelcoming barrier, you'll find there's a fantastic fighting game hidden inside.