GUTS is a fairly unique fighting game where your goal is not to take down the opponent’s health bar but to tear them literally limb from limb. Is this unique mechanic enough to make it worth playing? It plays like other fighters for the most part. You have high and low kicks and punches, combos and a few special moves but nothing too interesting. If you’ve played any other fighter you already know the entire move list for GUTS. It’s all just down and forward, back and forward + punch etc. It’s honestly not very exciting. I didn’t make great use of the combos either but then they aren’t the main focus of the game.
Combos, specials moves and regular attacks are used to build up your GUTS meter which allows you to perform GUTS moves. You do this by pressing 1 of 4 buttons to do a GUTS move, each button corresponding to a certain limb. If the opponent has a full GUTS meter they can block your GUTS move by guessing which button you pressed and pressing the same one. It’s just a game of luck really, there’s no strategy or timing involved. It’s not like executing a perfectly timed block or counter, you’re just hoping you pressed the same button they did.
Another problem I have with the GUTS and dismemberment system is that as your limbs are removed, you’ll get different animations for GUTS attacks. The amount of animation in the game is impressive given how many different states your character can be in but it also means it’s hard to remember what RB will do depending on what limbs you have. This can make it difficult to fight properly since you aren’t sure if your next attack is going to launch you into the air or just be a straight punch.
GUTS moves aren’t the only way to dismember an opponent though. Stages also have a variety of hazards such as walls of flame or spinning blades that come out of the background. Hitting an enemy into a hazard will take off a limb without having to use a GUTS move but it’s not always that easy. Hazards are usually at the far edges of the screen and the ones that aren’t are telegraphed so early that anyone will be able to get out of their way without much difficulty. The only way I managed to get hit by them was having a ranged attack spammed at me or getting hit into one just as it was coming on screen. Though I’d say some of them weren’t entirely justified.
The hitboxes in GUTS can feel a bit off sometimes. There will be times when you do a GUTS move and it’ll connect but the enemy will still be getting up from the ground and be invincible from it or sometimes it’ll miss by a mile and still sever a limb. I don’t mind that kind of thing every now and then because games aren’t perfect, obviously, but I only played for a couple of hours and I noticed it multiple times. It really takes the fun out of a game when you lose through no fault of your own.
It’s not all about the GUTS moves though. You also have a few other abilities to use in a fight. When a limb has been cut off it will stay on the battlefield and if you have enough U points, which regenerate pretty quick, you can take one of your limbs back or throw an enemy’s limb at them to cause even more dismemberment! I won’t lie, throwing someone’s leg at them and seeing their arm fly off is a blast but I think the healing mechanic was a mistake. Matches end up going on too long because you keep getting your limbs back. The only way to win is to remove all 4 limbs and then deliver a final GUTS move or hit an enemy into a hazard. As you can imagine, this is difficult to do when they keep growing their arms and legs back.
Overall, the fighting just isn’t very fun for me. It’s too simple for me to get invested in since there isn’t really much to master. Combos and the like don’t mean shit since GUTS moves are what win the game. It also feels like it lacks polish. There’s a very noticeable delay just as your hit makes contact. I know many action games have this to make attacks feel like they hit harder but it’s way too obvious in this one and it feels more like the game is just freezing a little bit every time you do a successful hit.
That’s about all I have to say concerning the gameplay so let’s move onto GUTS‘ presentation. It’s presented to you as a TV show. GUTS stands for Gory Ultimate Tournament Show and each character has a story of their own. When you pick one you get a little intro into their lives and why they’re entering the tournament. Each intro is a bunch of still images with a voice-over but the pictures are well drawn and I like the art style. I particularly liked Sergeant Sam, a war vet who just couldn’t get enough of war and wants to fight and fight because he just loves the bloodshed. Pure madman.
The announcer, who’s a playable character and the guy who started the tournament is also a madman and boy does this voice actor try really hard. He narrates every match and every bit in between the matches, where you get to see a summary of all the times a limb was severed. His voice constantly changes pitch as if he has two personalities, one vicious and one super camp, but what a shame neither of them learned how to act. The most annoying thing is that every time you do a GUTS move, and they happen a lot, he shouts out “GUTS MOVE”. Unsurprisingly this gets really very annoying after the first fight.
And that’s GUTS. It’s not much of a fighting game but I think that was the point. Personally I like my fighting games to be deep and interesting but if you like games that are all about the spectacle and light on gameplay then give GUTS a try.