It’s been some time since we discussed Guilty Gear Xrd’s comparative character designs. This is because the rest of the characters they put in are, more or less, the same design. Bedman didn’t warrant his own post, and Ramlethal was out of my radar at the time. With the latest new character addition, Elphelt, it would look like it’s time to make another Guilty Gear Character design post.
The thing we need to remember that the original Guilty Gear is very much mid/late 90’s game in visuals. The visuals in Guilty Gear have always had an edge to them with heavy musical influences, like Sol wielding his sword like Queen held his microphone stand in one of the iconic shows in his life. However, just like any long standing franchise, additions reflect their time. Jam Kuradoberi is a very much early 2000’s design with her modified cheongsam. With Xrd we’ve seen how the 2010’s has affected the game from ground up with the use of 3D models. Of course, the designs also reflect their time, and everything has become more clean, clinic even, as compared to the roughened, sketchy nature of the first two games. XX series already had a motion towards for the cleaner and removed a lot of the charm the garage like feeling GG and GGX had to them.
With modern style, the new character designs need to balance with the preset Guilty Gear visual choices and with the new addition they are to bring in. On one hand we can’t have a generic character with Guilty Gear sensibilities that are rather out there, but we also don’t want characters that are just full blown stupidly unique little snowflakes.
We won’t cover Sin Kiske, because his design hasn’t changed significantly from Guilty Gear 2, so we’re left with the rest of the three.
Bedman is… strange. Guilty Gear has had a slew of strange characters before, Zappa being the prime example. I can’t decide whether or not Bedman is too strange, or not strange enough. His design is very Guilty Geari-ish so to speak, but there a lot that don’t make sense, even in Guilty Gear’s terms. One of these elements is the giant screws that protrude from this shoulders. While this explains how he just doesn’t drop from the standing bed, he is also bound from his hands. This is perhaps one of those points that is completely up to the opinion whether or not it works.
Despite Bedman’s somewhat busy appearance, it is surprisingly sparse and lacks certain amount of detail. The bed’s limbs are the main concentration of points of interesting, and the sleeper himself, as well as the platform he is bound to, lack any proper points of interests outside the aforementioned screws. Well, the person does have a pink arrow on his forehead, but that’s not all too interesting. However, what is interesting is the crown the bed’s head wears. What it represents may be that either the person or the bed is considered some sort of king of a dream realm. Most likely the two are one. This is not really supported by anything and I’m just musing myself over the issue.
There are scriptures around Bedman, and in Guilty Gear scriptures have always represented the character and their motif. Sol has Free on his belt, whereas Ky has Hope. Robo-Ky has Ennui. On the bed’s head is etched Dreamlike Reality, which most likely is some sort of music reference I don’t get. The screws that hold the person on the bed real Déjà Vus, which may or may not have some sort of meaning. It just may mean that within the Dreamlike Reality, the person relives something over and over again. The wheels read ONEIROI, which could be translated as one colour. This would reflect the colour scheme Bedman has, where the pink, or washed out royal purple, is the governing colour with only a dash of gold here and there. Black is used to fill in areas with steel gray in order to balance the certain complex simplicity. Speaking of wheels, despite the bed being wheeled in to the fights, it lacks any sort of wheels before the bed takes it fight stance.
Outside these Bedman feels like it’s a character designed to take advantage of the 3D models. In most promotional illustrations Bedman looks towering, a character with an imposing height, but in-game he is rather normal sized. Because the character’s design lacks typical Guilty Gear accessories outside the screws and the arrow on the person’s head, it leaves me rather cold. It lacks the same bold design choices most Guilty Gear designs are known for, and all for its uniqueness Bedman looks something like what could be a good background or a non-playable character rather a straight out newcomer. The concept has solid idea, but the execution leaves something to be desired.
Be it Ramlethal or Ramletherl, this Valentine continues to proud mainline Guilty Gear tradition of having a female boss character. Ramlethal’s design mirrors very much a certain type of female character we’ve seen in Japanese media for some time now. She is somewhat a character archetype with a cool and emotionless front, but then just turns bears a row of monster teeth and proceeds to devastate the player. Unlike I-No who was a sadist, Ramlethal seems to enjoy defeat of weaker ones as per rich lady like persona.
Ramlethal’s motif is teeth. She enters the stage from a mouth that her cape forms, with saliva and all, and her familiars carry her two swords with their highly visible rows of teeth. The cape’s teeth are used in a throw as a buzz saw. As with Justice and Dizzy, Ramlethal has a giant beam as one of her Over Drive moves, where we see the two familiars combined into one big blob with teeth. It would seem like that all Valentines and bosses related to them share this Voltekka kind of attack. Ramlethal’s beam Over Drive reminds me of Gradius’ Core for some reason.
All the main series bosses have been rather contained. Even Leopaldon, despite his huge size, didn’t take too much screen estate outside his body. Ramlethal’s design is spread into two main elements, which naturally are her main body and her swords. The swords themselves are nothing special, having elements from traditional katana and Zone of the Ender like aesthetics otherwise. One could almost make a comparison between them and Type-74 PB Blade from Muv-Luv. However, the similarities between the two are purely coincidental. However, overall the amount of space Ramlethal takes is about the same as previous bosses because of her petite body size.
Ramlethal’s body design, however, is where the you get a nice mix of old and new. Ramlethal has nice amount of details here and there. All around her body one can find golden locks holding straps in place. Black locks hold her shoulder amours in place, which adds some colour juxtaposition to her. It should be noted that her normal colour is very much ganguro, with plain white contrasted against her tanned skin. Green is splashed here and there to balance out, and the inside of her cape is naturally flesh shaded as per the whole teeth and mouth thing going on for her. This is similar to Ky’s clothing, where strategically placed blue is contrasted against plain white, but there’s nothing to that outside the interest of note.
Her certain lack of clothing is nothing new in video games, or even Guilty Gear, but it should be noted that it’s not fetishised either. Then again, everything is somebody’s fetish. Combined with the cape, Ramlethal has a nice balance with nigh weightless body and heavy weighted paraphnelia.
The hat she is wearing has same round locks that could be holding the belt straps. The hat itself has similar feeling to the previous Valentine’s hat, but this time it’s somewhat clear that Guilty Gear has a bit more emphasized animal ear element.
I haven’t found any proper screen shots or promotional pictures of what the scriptures around her body say, but her right sword has something like Right Here is * I’m Left. If you can make out what the * says, drop me a message. The left sword seems to have the same scripture, so I’m Left could mean leaving.
Ramlethal is a good design overall. Guilty Gear has seen a healthy number of female contestants through the years, and her design stands out from the crowd just as much as the rest. It’s not intentionally over-strange like Dizzy’s and manages to balance between bringing in something new and sticking to the preset aesthetics. There are numerous nice little details, like her cape being a gaping jaw and does impossible things for a clothing, that keep her interesting and wholesome design.
Even a music illiterate like me recognizes the Guns & Roses motif going on here. And the animal ears. And the wedding gown. Elphelt is the latest addition to the roster, and like Ramlethal, Elphelt’s main colour is white. Perhaps subduing the plain white with a hint of red to make it more rosé in colour could’ve been a better option, as now you’ve got around six or seven characters with white as main coloured, accented with something else. Well, alternate colours exist for a reason.
Elphelt ‘s rose motif carries over to her main body, not just to the bunch of three on her hip. Her skirt has spikes around the lower rim, the belt straps’ ends have rings with three spikes, her wrists have three spikes protruding outwards from her body and even her head has three spikes. Three could be one of her motifs, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. There are five pink four-leaf clovers on her body. There’s only one spike on her shoulders, has one bow tie under them. There’s two metal straps on her upper arms as well for no other reason than Guilty Gear accessories. It could’ve been an interesting thing to do with the character to have three of everything and it wouldn’t have been hard to accomplish. Outside having a consistent numbering motif, there wouldn’t been anything more that.
Incidentally, she has three guns. Huh.
It should be noted that Elphelt has two points where your eyes may be drawn to; her eyes and her bosom. Elphelt’s eyes are icy blue and strand out strikingly well from otherwise reddish colours scheme, and combined with her larger breasts create a certain kind zone that stands apart from the rest of the body. The skin coloured area is nicely broken down with a pink strap and a green clover, which is also repeated in one of her guns. Naturally, the eyes and overall shape of her dress, open bosom and all, represent femininity to a large extent. She also wears overknee socks with straps going up her main body, further solidifying her feminity. Also, her rifle is pink and a pink bow on it. Her shotgun, while pink too, has a red rose and a green clover on it. Her handgun has a pink cover with an underside of dark metal gray, but with golden wings attached to above the grip. Elphelt also carries a pink sword with a bow tied to it, and seem to use it in her Instant Kill, where she places the opponent atop a wedding cake and proceeds to cut in half.
I’m getting a bit mixed messages here.
And oh, she has a broom she flies on. Or is that her flower bukee?
The front of her skirt has some sort of scripture there, but no shot, promotional not, shows what it says. What interest in her the most is that she seems to be a departure from the melee weapons used in Guilty Gear. I won’t go into her gameplay at all, as I would need to play as her first to say anything.
Elphelt’s design is rather generic, but it works to the needed extent because of the added Guilty Gear flavour. There is less strangeness to her as much as there is a grandeur. Even from her design we can deduce that she is a sort of klutz. That is what good design conveys; elements what the character is like without giving any proper hints. That also may say that the character archetype is overused at this point, but I’m giving her the benefit of doubt this time. There’s a chance that she will see quite a lot of doujin made out of her.
Elphelt is a character that couldn’t have been made for any of the previous games. Her very clean cut look sits very well in this time. Bedman could’ve been made at any point of the franchise, Ramlethal to lesser degree, but both of them would’ve seen much more sketchier appearances with either 90’s or 00’s thrown in. Even during 00’s Elphelt could’ve become a gun wielding nun with nunchucks rather than what she is now. Because of Xrd new take on the franchise, mixing old with the new, Elphelt managed to be what she is now. Her design wouldn’t work in BlazBlue either because of the aesthetics in that series.
It would be interesting to see more character getting major overhauls with these new characters. However, it would seem like ArcSys got cold feet from the divided fan reaction over the previous changes, or hasn’t got any time to redesign most of the veterans. Xrd is still a good place to make changes to the visuals as long as they are kept true to the core, and the tree newcomers show that the visual direction of Xrd is still true. I hope they will keep it that way in the future.