User:PrivateTarkus/ACPR Design

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Preamble

These were the criteria I was given to rate characters by.

  • How well does this character speak of the game's ideas?
  • Can you simply watch this character and tell what this game wants to achieve in terms of flow, speed, neutral, etc?
  • How does it interact with the system mechanics and other characters?
  • Can this character apply the system mechanics like no other, show them off in their simplest form, or actively defy them in an interesting way?
  • How creative is this character in terms of gameplay design?
  • Does it bring something to the table that no other character in a game does?
  • How "different" is it, and does it accomplish this while still "playing the same game as everyone else"?

Why no explanation for X?

I feel more strongly about some characters than others. Sometimes I just don't have a lot to say about something, and I think that's OK too.

Tier List View

for those who hate nuance

Masterpieces
Almost
Perfect
Especially
Good
Standard
Somewhat
Lacking
Mistakes

Why do I feel the way I do

A.B.A

A little too much like Xrd and Blazblue, but still good
A.B.A fits all the core principals of ACPR. She keeps the pace of the game fast, has strong offense with meaningful counterplay (most of the time), and has a clear focus. The main issue I have with her is how she spends HP as a resource while also having 3 modes, and a unique resource that only serves to get in and out of those modes that is sometimes tacked on top of the meter mechanic of the game. That kind of stuff belongs on Hakumeme, not in Gear.

Baiken

"We made a game with rich defensive mechanics and incredibly fun offense."
"Now let's make a character who spits in the face of that offense, and doesn't participate in that defense"
Baiken's lame. I don't care that her combos are cool and hard. She breaks the rules too hard and I don't like it. Offense in +R is often an intricate dance of weaving together frame traps, pressure resets, throw attempts, high low mixes, and guard-bar cranking. It's awesome. So it feels disrespectful that they gave Baiken meterless guard cancels with varied behavior that ignore block stop. It encourages the Baiken player to huff glue, and it robs the other player of the fun of running offense. The rest of her kit doesn't matter to me because this one aspect is such a big mistake that it spoils her entirely. There's a reason why her defensive mechanic was reworked in both games to come after ACPR.

Bridget

I don't think Bridegt fits in Guilty Gear.
Pretty much everything about Bridget strikes me as out of place. Aesthetically, they strike me as more at home with Platinum than they are next to Sol. And in terms of gameplay, the whole running away and annoying the opponent with Roger or avoiding interaction entirely thing strikes me as a leaf from Amane's playbook. When I think of ACPR I think of aggression, intensity, and metal. I don't really see any of that in Bridget.

Chipp

Chipp plays into the movement mechanics of gear in fun ways, while breaking the rules just enough to feel special
The most important aspect of Chipp, to me, is how he plays when he's airborne. The way he uses FD to interrupt his momentum and redirect that into ambiguous attacks, or trick you into thinking the mix will be from somewhere else is exactly how a pixie character should play. He's extremely frustrating to swat out of the air, and he's blisteringly fast. His Strive design completely removes this aspect of him and I think that's lame as hell.

Dizzy

Dizzy is problematic for a very similar reason to Baiken, but a bit more focused.
Dizzy is the other character in ACPR who just demolishes the universal mechanics of the game. Because a properly played dizzy can lock cover for FD, Dead Angle, back dash, and burst at the same time she basically punishes you for trying to use the mechanics that the game is built on. This isn't even just me scrubbing out over some strong offense, because I have no issue with Testament, Millia, or Venom pressure. I think it's stupid how she basically forces you to sit there and hold her entire setup with very little recourse through universal mechanics.

Eddie

Shockingly, the only design I think Strive did better.
Eddie is, in a way, the personification of the misgivings non-anime FG players have for the genre. He's most notable for his mortifying mix and pressure once he has gotten right up on top of you. He does that well, and he's a lot more fair about it than he was in AC, while also being more potent than in Rev2. It's a decent middle ground. He encourages good use of defensive mechanics and clean play to beat him. The only issues I have with him are in terms of his character, not gameplay, and what he can do with meter.
I'm not wild about edgy Eddie. It worked in Missing Link where Zato was an asshole who was punished by his own shadow, but here it just doesn't hit home. That's minor, but it makes him feel somewhat uninspired. The other issue is actually gameplay related. Eddie has some funblockables that, while strictly speaking are blockable, cheapen the positive things I said about him in the previous paragraph. Whereas you can normally create gaps and take advantage via the use of IB and Slashback, these metered unblockable setups become near-guaranteed damage that sometimes somebody beats half out of luck.

Faust

Generally, I would call myself a fan of Faust, but I don't think his +R design is as good as other games.
The shell of Faust has not changed between 1998 and 2022. He has pretty much the same normals and most of the same specials as he always had, but also you don't think of any of those. If you think about Faust you think about items, and without a doubt they are the defining part of his kit—or they should be.
And that's where my problem with ACPR Faust comes in. His items lack interest. There's pretty much 3 categories of items:

  • Food
  • You're fucked on the ground
  • You're fucked in the air

and sometimes an item is both of those bottom two at the same time. Faust is a funny character, and yet his items in ACPR aren't very funny at all, and are brutally effective and also paradoxically not necessary to succeed. Faust can play a shockingly clean game without using items because his normals and conventional specials are just so effective. This lets you de-emphasize the thing that makes the character unique. But even when you do use the items, they are less fun than the Xrd items. XRD has stupid funny items like black hole, oil drum can, and jump pad which introduce chaos for both players at the same time. That's not even mentioning the items that exist just to be funny like helium. All in all, he's faust, but with the least cool items.

Jam

She's here I guess.

Johnny

Johnny is an extremely well designed character. He both obeys the system mechanics and breaks the standards in interesting ways.
He has a unique character mechanic, but that mechanic doesn't centralize his character. You can blow your coins by using them just for their projectile properties, and it's a valid choice; but at the same time you can use coins as an investment to bolster your offense outside of the immediate engagement. He has enough coins that he doesn't need to strictly manage the resource, but few enough that he can't just chuck them like they're nothing. Even then, leveling up with coins isn't a linear increase. In Xrd, you route for level 3 mist finer and then dab on kids. With +R Johnny, level 2 is the go-to level, and level 3 is a niche option since it drastically changes how mist finer works, but it's still not bad.
His non-standard movement is also surprisingly well done. The step dash takes a lot of spatial awareness to master, but it is also shown to be very strong by movement wizards like Suzume and Satou. The way it interplays with his pressure and FD is very pleasing to me, because it's just simple, emergent play instead of a complex system of defined rules.

Justice

She's pretty nifty, but also kinda antithetical to a lot of the game.
I'm very much a fan of how they made her into an imposing, immovable object with viable zoning and pressure. It's a big improvement from the absolutely one dimensional lame-machine she was in ML—a character relegated to spamming 1 overpowered move. I like the way that she changes the pace of the game for many characters, and encourages learning very specific matchup information to deal with her. That said, she can grind the pace of the game down if you're playing a character with poor responses to her nukes, and sometimes learning and acting on the counter play to her is exhausting.

Kliff

Haha funny old man
Kliff's a rule breaker in subtle ways. I think a lot of it is due to being a somewhat rushed addition to the cast. Some of it is super annoying like his 5D animation. Overall, however, I think he's a great package. It's rare that you have a character in a fighting game who can literally hurt you with words, and Kliff players decided to run with that theme and make him the most disrespectful character in the game. Gold burst > Stun > IK is actually pretty darn cool. I've complained before about how I don't like Xrd's gold IK system because it makes IKs too prevalent and practical, but here I think it works. The funny old man can spend his precious resource to force you into a button mashing test with your life on the line.
If Kliff is intended to be a character that makes you feel like a dumbass, then he does a great job with a lot of knowledge-check type moves such as Nape Saddle and 5D and his forward dash. That said, he does also occasionally feel a little cheep, and he doesn't really use the system of +R as much as other characters do.

Ky

There's nothing wrong with Ky design wise. He's just kinda basic.
Ky's a pretty decent ambassador for +R, and there's nothing offensive with his gameplay. He just exists in this disappointing middle ground between the intensity of Sol and the simplicity of Faust. It's hard to say much about him, so I'm not gonna force myself.

Millia

She does what she sets out to do, it's just less cool than Chipp, and also a little too strong.
Oh also fuck pin.

Order-Sol

I see HOS as a fan service character for Missing Link fans. He does an admirable job of refining ML's charge system and showcases the potential that the mechanic had.
Sadly, HOS also showcases the shortcomings of the charge system, and makes it pretty easy to see why the mechanic never came back in gear, or most other fighting games either—the closes being Tsubaki who handles the level system even worse and is a very linear character.
Similar to Johnny's levels, charge isn't a strictly linear improvement at each increased level, which is cool, but it's also a lot more demanding to manage. HOS needs to charge and action charge proactively to build levels, and then needs to retain his charge by adding D inputs to his specials to avoid blowing the load early, and then repeat the process every time he uses his charge. Since charge is a guage as opposed to a straight number increment, HOS' leveling up doesn't feel as snappy and clean as it could be.
From there, I think there's just no good reason for HOS to not have a conventional anti-air. Gutting a character's anti-air options is one of the least interesting ways to balance them, and Arcsys knows this now. If a character doesn't get an anti-air 6P, the character gets an strong anti-air close slash or 2S to fill the gap. HOS doesn't have that, and to spit in your face he has the first half of normal Sol's godlike 5K.

Potemkin

He's literally archetype defining.
I hate Potemkin. I hate most Potemkin players. I hate playing against Potemkin. I hate how Potemkin's outfit looks. Yet, I can't deny that he's a phenomenal design. To say he does what an anime grappler should under-sells the genius of his design. He set the standard for what an anime grappler should do. He's very potent up front and can run a terrifying vortex, and he is primarily limited by a single, easy to understand drawback. He's not a one-dimensional character because he has more than just buster. He mixes strike and throw together about as well as Sol does, but with the twist of being a slow, huge, meat ball.

Robo-Ky

Possibly the best designed joke character in the genre.
Robo has similar resource management funk going on compared to Order-Sol, but in this case it works in his favor. He's the smarmy, obnoxious, robot impersonator of Ky whose move names are literally puns on Ky's name, and so it's only fitting for for his resource system to be as obnoxious to manage as he is. His delayed wakeup is literally him shit talking you from the ground before he gets back up. His charge up is posing on you after grugging through you with his invuln dash attack. That's tremendous character building with only gameplay features.
Everything about Robo is an intentional perversion of the core of the of the game, and he's supposed to piss you off—and boy does he piss me off. Great character.

Sol

As much as I like to complain about Sol and Sol players, he does do a good job of embodying the sprit of ACPR.
The first thing is that Sol is fast, but not incomprehensibly fast. A spectator with solid knowledge of FGs can look at sol and grasp what's going on, even though it's happening in a small span of time. Along the way, he has a lot of moves, and a lot of those moves are kinda funny. I describe stuff like Riot Stamp and Grand Viper and Dragon Install as "why not" moves. Things the developers made simply because they thought it would be fun, and it obviously is for a lot of people with how many special-only Sols there are online.
If you asked me what the developer intent for this game was, I would probably say something stemming from those 2 aspects of Sol. A fast, intense game with a high power curve that isn't trying to be overwhelming or too tame at the same time, and wants to be fun.
That said, there's some mistakes in Sol's kit, I think. Grand Viper has no business being as good as it is. Yes it's risky, but if you get beyond the intermediate mindset of "I can get punished for this move" and use it as an intentional callout, it's ludicrously rewarding and can contest things in a completely unique way that is just frustrating for the other person. Grand Viper going under Johnny's sweep, Chipp's sweep, and Baiken's FB Tatami just makes the opponent feel cheated. I also think Sol doesn't deserve to have one of the best anti-airs in the game. I know I said gutting an anti-air is a lame way to balance characters, but also Sol's 5K is so insanely cracked that it makes Ky blush, and Ky is supposed to be the neutral focused shoto to Sol's rush down! I wouldn't want Ken having better neutral than Ryu in SF6, and I don't like how good Sol's 5K is in its role here.

Testament

Yes, Testament is over tuned. Yes, Testament is stronger than they should be. They're still super cool, though.
Missing Link and AC Testament had ideas, but did a bad job of executing them. Strive Testament is chained to the cinderblock of modern Arcsys design restrictions. This is the one version of the character who I think actually has room to breathe.
Testament builds a ton of meter, spends a ton of meter, primarily uses universal defensive mechanics, but also has viable character-specific options to cheat turns with. They have a few very strong anti-airs but not a one-size-fits-all solution to airborne opponents. They have accessible combos, but very deep routing options. It's all a rich well of options which bleed into each other and make the character very fun to play, without making them feel like a stupid boss character like AC Kliff or ML Justice.
They could stand to eat several nerfs, but what they do at a conceptual level is super fun, and makes you feel like you have a massive brain when you pull it off.

Venom

Obvious bias aside, I think Venom's sick. Even though this isn't his coolest version, he's still beyond cool.
You might look at Venom and think he's playing his own game like a Blazblue character, but really he's just playing Gear with more steps and moving parts. He has a strict adherence to system mechanics, both in how he executes and in how the opponent plays against him. How do you get out of pressure as Venom? You FD, IB, back dash, and exercise deliberate decision making. How do you get out of Venom pressure? Pretty much the same way, except replace back dash with reversal.
The Japanese call Venom an install character in disguise, and it makes sense. He's constantly "installing" incrementally by putting down balls that he can interact with immediately or later, similar to Johnny's coins and levels. Yet, these balls don't break any rules. They're just fireballs, but with a lot more freedom in how you use them. It's super fun. There's incredible complexity in how deep you can take it, but the rules themselves are about as difficult to grasp as playing marbles on the playground. His design does a lot with very little.
But also nerfing his 6P this badly was beyond stupid. If you wanna make a character that says "hey, you can zone with me, I have a lot of projectiles that are fun to use", then don't make it super hard to stop people from jumping at you. If slashback was as consistent to pull off as 3rd Strike parry, then Venom would basically be shut down as hard as Remmy.