Guilty Gear (also known as Guilty Gear: The Missing Link) is a 2D sci-fi fantasy fighting game developed and published by Arc System Works for the Sony PlayStation in Japan on May 14, 1998. It was later released in North America (by Atlus on October 31, 1998) and Europe (by Studio 3 in May 2000).
The first original fighting game developed by Arc System Works (by the production group known as "Team Neo Blood", led by Daisuke Ishiwatari), Guilty Gear features detailed high-resolution anime-style character sprites, themes inspired by seinen manga, a heavy metal soundtrack, and a fast-paced combo-heavy gameplay system. It later received numerous sequels (most of which are fighting games).
The story is set in futuristic 2180, five years after the end of the "Crusades": a century-old conflict between mankind and bio-mechanical living weapons known as "Gears" (created using an unlimited energy source known as "magic"). Although the Gear leader Justice was imprisoned (in a seemingly-impenetrable dimensional prison) by the military group "Sacred Order of Holy Knights", the Union of Nations noticed the walls of the prison eroding and organized a no-holds-barred fighting tournament to form a new Sacred Order and prepare for Justice's return.
It was digitally re-released via PlayStation Network (as a PSOne Classics title) for supporting consoles in Japan (on May 31, 2007) and Europe (on August 6, 2009). It was also ported to the PC (as a digital release via Steam) on May 15, 2019 and was included in the 2019 Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition compilation for the Nintendo Switch (along with Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R).
Like most 2D fighters, combat consisted of a best out of three round structure, which could be changed to best out of four or five in the options menu, in which two fighters squared off. The Capcom-style of special moves were used (consisting of quarter and half circle motions as well as holding backward to "charge" a move) and a Tension Gauge filled at the bottom. The Tension Gauge encouraged players to be extremely aggressive, as it would actually drain if one person was playing too defensively. Super moves could be activated if enough Tension was built up and the above mentioned DESTRUCTION mode could be initiated at any time. This mode would allow the insta-kill move to be activated and would drain the Tension, and later the health, gauge if it wasn't. Combat in Guilty Gear was extremely fast with an emphasis on drawn out combos, for the most part.
The game includes 13 playable characters, 3 of which are the game's bosses and must be unlocked prior to play.
- Sol Badguy - An apathetic American bounty hunter who previously deserted the Sacred Order of Holy Knights (stealing the blade known as "Fireseal" for himself), entering the tournament for a mysterious purpose. He fights with fire-based attacks and has a mysterious power.
- Ky Kiske - A disciplined French police officer and the former young leader of the Sacred Order of Holy Knights (using the bladed known as "Thunderseal"). After becoming suspicious of certain things about the tournament, he decides to don his old Order regalia and enter it to investigate. He fights with lightning-based attacks and has a bitter rivalry with Sol Badguy.
- Chipp Zanuff - An American ninja who studied under the ninja Tsuyoshi after being rescued by him (as Chipp was the target of his former gang superiors for being addicted to the drugs he was supposed to peddle). After Tsuyoshi was murdered by a mysterious organization, Chipp enters the tournament to find the culprit. Incredibly agile, he fights with a unique under-arm blade.
- Kliff Undersn - A retired Swiss war hero and Ky's predecessor as the leader of the Sacred Order of Holy Knights, who studies the fighting techniques of various cultures. After sensing a possible resurrection of Justice, he enters the tournament to investigate. Despite his old age, he fights with the gigantic blade "Dragonslayer".
- Axl Low - A 20th-century British hoodlum who was caught in a mysterious "time slip" and hurtled two centuries into the future. After two years in this new time period, he enters the tournament as a last-ditch effort to find a way back home. He has unusual martial arts prowess and fights with dual kusarigamas that are linked together (similar to nunchucku).
- Zato-ONE - A mysterious Spanish assassin who becomes the leader of a group known as the "Assassins" after invoking forbidden arts (sacrificing his sight to gain enhanced senses and the ability to control shadows). After being betrayed by fellow Assassin Millia Rage and imprisoned, he enters the tournament for revenge after being confronted by a mysterious figure. He fights with his own shadow.
- Potemkin - A massive slave soldier of the Zepp military empire (which resides on a gigantic airship). Not a violent person by nature, Potemkin is forced to enter the tournament by Zepp's leaders (to expand their empire) as he wears an anti-desertion bomb collar. Hulking in nature, he fights with a pair of powerful gauntlets.
- May - A cheerful young orphan who was adopted by a group of pirates led by the daring Johnny (who she develops a fierce crush on). After Johnny becomes incarcerated for stealing from the well-off (to aid those in need), May enters the tournament to bail him out. She fights with nautical-based attacks and wields a giant anchor.
- Millia Rage - A Russian orphan who was adopted by a group known as the "Assassins" and trained to use her hair as a lethal weapon. Wanting no part in the organization, she betrays them (leading to the arrest of leader Zato-ONE) and goes into hiding. She enters the tournament to fight Zato and bring an end to the Assasins once and for all. Her fighting style incorporates her long hair.
- Dr. Baldhead - A brilliant Chinese physician who became a serial killer after being driven mad (as a girl under his care died mysteriously under his scalpel). After being imprisoned for his crimes, he enters the tournament for freedom after being confronted by a mysterious figure. He fights with a giant scalpel.
- Testament (sub-boss, unlockable) - A mysterious Gear whose goal is to free Justice and eliminate humanity. He wields a scythe and can conjur demons to do his bidding.
- Justice (final boss, unlockable) - The former leader of the Gears during the Crusaders and the first Gear to possess sentience, using their power to command other Gears.