Guilty Gear : Isuka was an interesting experiment with bringing the standard 2D fighter to multiple levels of playfield, and throwing in up to four characters to battle simultaneously. Dust Strikers follows in the same general mold, but where Isuka was primarily a 2D fighter ported to a Smash Brothers arena, Dust Strikers is entirely more like Smash Brothers in gameplay. And that gameplay is oversimplified and clunky, making this game basically an unappealing mess.

The only thing it really does right is the presentation. You've got all the popular Guilty Gear characters on hand, and the DS cranks out surprisingly good renditions of the rockin' theme songs from the other games. The characters look pretty good as well, inasmuch as you can see them; the sprites are smushed down so much it's often hard to tell one apart from another.

The gameplay has been simplified to two buttons - the B button does a character's generic attack, and then pushing in one of the cardinal directions plus A does one of their special moves. Obviously, with this setup, every match (of necessity) degenerates into a special moves spam fest where everyone just mashes their best move as much as possible and hopes for the best. Stiff and janky movement doesn't help anything - characters often turn and face the wrong direction for no good reason at all, and I've noted several instances where someone just inexplicably walked right through someone else's attack (selective hit detection?).

The playfield just consists of four platforms against a static backdrop that is not animated in any way, nor is there any kind of environmental interaction. Little bonus things to pick up pop up here and there, but it's often confusing as to how to actually grab them, and once you do I'm not even sure what they do for you anyway. There's a bomb that seems to do absolutely nothing, and some diamond that I guess makes you invincible for a bit because it makes characters flash, but beyond that it's beyond me.

They've also thrown in several touch screen minigames, simply because I guess they felt they had to use the touch screen in *some* way (even if it was totally tacked on and gratuitous). None of these minigames are any fun at all, like some bad simplistic Flash shit you would see in a banner ad or something. I half expected the General to pop out in them and start driving around being chased by a Zwinky or something.

So what we have here is Guilty Gear, the brilliant and exciting weapons-based 2D fighter, reduced to Guilty Gear the shitty Smash Brothers knockoff. And it's nowhere even near the level of fun or creativity present in Smash Brothers. Seriously, this game isn't very far off from one of those old Tiger LCD handheld games in terms of it's core gameplay. Pretty awful stuff all around, the only use I can think of for it is if you want to make your DS play Guilty Gear tunes.

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