Black is still Black in Guilty Gear designs

We haven’t seen one glimpse of Dizzy, and while I’ve been holding back from going into any new Guilty Gear character design comparisons, the time’s been too long since we ventured into this territory.I admit going way overboard with Jam, and from now on I’ll stick with two characters per post. That’ll keep me from going into too much useless detail.

This time we’ll go over two returning cast members; Raven, who originally appeared in XX #Reload as a non-playable story character, and Elphelt’s Revelator redesign.

rev_image

Above we have Raven’s Guilty Gear 2: Overture and Xrd: Revelator designs as a comparison. The change in style is drastic, but he had a different look originally.

Raven mock

The only real thing that has survived across Raven’s designs are the spikes. His original visage above is basically a black, skin-tight bodysuit with dark grey skin with the occasion spike coming from his body. His left eye is completely white, and while it’s not clear from this angle, he has a crack going just over his eye, running down to his jaw with spikes jagged next to it. The chest plate he has us supposed to be some sort of bird, but looks more like generic chest hair. It’s not the most unique design out there, and feels rather 1990’s in its own way.

The bodysuit theme survived into Overture, as we can see from his left arm, but now he dons a mask, dropped painting his skin in grey and seemed to have moved to more tactful finger spikes. Because the promo pictures have him don that cape like a little prance, we’ll need to check some of the books for a better visual.

jc8690r4

I can’t fault ArcSys for consistency and sticking to the idea. Raven’s Overture suit carries the bird motif further with far better, if not more generic green chest plate, added feathers and he is supposed to have the kanji 烏 (karasu) on it, meaning, crow or raven. It’s pretty much what you get, especially how they hammer in his resurrection power with LIVE tamped unto him. Of course, the whole Raven motif itself is from the UK heavy metal band. There’s not much subtly in him. The coin on his eye is taken from the Roman tradition of giving the dead a coin to the grave so they can pay the ferryman over Styx.

The same really goes for his Revelator design. The only thing that really got carried from the previous incarnations was the spike driven through his head, as even the finger sticks he has have been redesigned to have golden rings instead of steel ones. The cape saw an overhaul with more slender and ragged feather ends to it with a hood, and much like with other Revelator designs, he has text stamped into him pretty much everywhere. He also looks far more slimmer, nearly anorexic.

The bird on his chest has been dropped, and while the cape governs most of his design, the constant raven references have been tidied down to the YATA reading on his crosses. This is of course a direct nod at Yatagarasu, or the Three-Legged Crow. The bird from his chest has been moved unto the cape’s back. The second element that governs his design are the two, immensely large belt buckles on his waist. These two don’t keep anything up and are simply for showcase. Raven’s design overall is rather neat, but I would argue that the existence of these two bits drops its effectiveness. Prior to this designs, Raven has been rather lean and lacking in any bulky accessory, and now he has these two. The weird thing is that in-game these two buckles are much smaller and sit far more in his sides rather than in front of him. His lanky outfit also is supplemented by his baggy pants with generic metal plates on them, which of course don’t seem to have any weight to them.

Raven’s design is contrastive to the rest of the cast in that it’s very 2010’s in every regard. From the broken neon-mint straps on his shoulders to the bandage design on his torso, it looks more like how a modern designer would create a Guilty Gear character. The rest of his colour scheme is very subdued, laden with broken colours outside the white and black. He looks the part, but perhaps

The last two notable things, outside his open shirt he wears, is that his hood has what looks likes eyes, and the rest of the spike on his forehead forms a raven’s head. The second one is that Raven uses his cape to fly, like Gatchaman. Raven’s edgy, and he looks the part.

Now, until redesigned newcomer, Elphelt.

GGXRD_Elphelt_Portrait
She dropped red and opted for black because of plot

Whoever decided that Elphelt needed a redesign because of plot reasons should’ve gone back to the workbench. The overall character silhouette is still the same and recognizable, but the amount of tweaks is large.

First off, she doesn’t haven have a wedding gown any more. She now dons more or less a dress and with a corset with black undergarments. These garments are largely the key to her design look, as they are ragged and ripped, unlike her original trim and proper “strawberry” patterned one. She lost the bulky half belt and spiked ends in exchange for a white-striped black belt with only two hanging crosses. One big one without a red centre sits on her left hip. Strange that they didn’t that consistent.

Original design had spikes, or rose thorns around her body, and the redesign pretty much just paints them black. Elphelt changed her gloves though, and the wrist belts grew in width, as did the buckle on them. She lost her spiky bow and replaced it with what looks like a black tiara. She also lost her soft collar with the clover, which got replaced with a large dog’s collar with a chain coming from the back.

What was pink is now green, and what was red is now black, outside the roses on her back.  Her hair lost its colour and went white, and the laces she had from her hair and under her bust are gone. While her expression hasn’t changed, her eyes are more green with far smaller pupils. The rose markings on her headdress/hat’s “ears” were also replaced with something else.

The change Elphelt went through, visually speaking, is from pure bride to a more Gothic one, someone who has gone through some rough shit. Spoilers here, but in Xrd she’s a sleeper agent, programmed to get close to the main cast, observe them and ultimately taken them down. Seeing how she’s very bright, smiling and positively lovely, being used in that way really dents her conscious self-image, and the redesign reflects this. Then again, being a Gear with developed feelings must suck. Her nature in Revelator is partly amnesic, remembering the basic points, but e.g. can’t remember who Mother was.

She also has small shields on her shoulders instead of puffy shoulder pieces, connected by two red straps
She also has small shields on her shoulders instead of puffy shoulder pieces, connected by two red straps. Note how the collar doesn’t sit on her shoulder naturally, but floats in the air just in front of her chin. They should’ve done away with it, or at least make it far smaller

However, I must say that the redesign is not all that successful. While both contain some elements of wedding as a theme, Revelator version should’ve stand more apart from the original. Going with black  and white is far too obvious choice. The collar on her neck should’ve really been much smaller, as it looks tacky, maybe the worst huge-as-hell accessory in the franchise and that’s saying something. However, much like with Raven’s two buckles, the collar looks more reasonable in size in-game.

Despite the plot changes, pretty much all of her animations and after-match scenes are largely unchanged, giving this redesign overall a half assed feeling. Even Elphelt’s Instant Kill stayed the same, despite being a right opportunity to play with her new status. At least Elphelt got a new intro, which was pretty much the only thing couldn’t get away with. If her redesign was supposed to reflect her shattered persona, all that’s coming through is the easy way they chose to go with.

Elphelt also has larger hips in the new illustration, and I think we all can approve that.

 Next time, whenever that is, maybe we’ll tackle Sin and Leo. Unless Dizzy is revealed.

The Three Guilty Gear Xrd newcomers

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

Bedman's most likely a reference to Bedemon, but I'm most likely off with my guess
Bedman’s most likely a reference to Bedemon, but I’m most likely off with my guess

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.

Ramlethal

Condescending petite girls? Now where have I seen this before...
Condescending petite girls? Now where have I seen this before…

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.

Elphelt

A bride rabbit , I guess?
A bride rabbit , I guess?

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?

031

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.