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Guilty Gear (ギルティギア, Giruti Gia), subtitled The Missing Link, is the first game of the Guilty Gear series developed by Arc System Works. It was first released on the PlayStation in 1998. Despite being the first release of the Guilty Gear series, the game itself reveals little of its past storyline; it is not until later releases of the video games, drama CDs, and novels of the franchise that its history is thoroughly explained.
Guilty Gear is set in 2D, similar to Street Fighter and The King of Fighters series video games, but it is fast-paced, and focuses more on the use of combo techniques. The game features 10 characters and 3 hidden characters. It uses a 6 button layout: Punch, Kick, Slash, H-Slash, Taunt, and Respect. However, the Slash and H-Slash buttons can be used as additional punches and kicks of medium and heavy strengths, in case of characters that don't need weapons (for example, Potemkin). Taunts can be canceled, while Respect is a "reverse taunt" that cannot be canceled. Computer characters can taunt and respect— something they neer do in other games in the series. Throws are done by pressing a direction plus HS while standing close to an opponent. Launcher attacks, used to initiate an aerial combo, are executed by pressing S and HS at the same time - in later games this attack earned it's own button and became "Dust." The sweep-trip (Crouching Dust in later games) does not exist here unless the character has it specifically as a move (i.e. Sol Badguy's crouching Kick).
Combat is one-on-one, set in best-two-out-of-three rounds. However, there are ways to win the match without beating the opponent twice (see below).
Guilty Gear uses a "tension gauge", akin to Street Fighter Alpha's Super Combo techniques, in which characters can input certain commands and activate super-moves called Chaos Attacks. It also features an air-combo system, comparable to Street Fighter Alpha's "Aerial Rave", allowing combos to be performed on airborne opponents.
The game also has a feature called Chaos Mode that is activated when a character's health (yellow bar) is at the half-way point. A red aura will surround the character and he/she is able to perform unlimited Chaos Attacks.
Each character (except Testament and Justice) has one attack that can be charged up to do extra damage once it's performed. Charging is done by pressing the directional commands for a move (for example, quarter-circle forward) and holding down Taunt. The character will stand there and build power, and a number will appear above their Tension gauge showing Level 1, 2, or 3. At any time, a character may stop charging, and the charge is held until that attack is released. When the attack is performed it does far more damage than it would have normally (for example, Ky's Stun Edge would be much larger and hit multiple times).
Guilty Gear features instant kill techniques called Destroy Attacks, which can be used at any time regardless of which round it is or how much Tension the player has. By hitting Punch and Kick simultaneously, a slow, short-range attack will be performed. If it hits, the screen will turn red. At this point both players enter a race. The attacking character must press quarter-circle forward, plus one attack button, while the opponent must mash. If the attacker is successful, the will perform their instant kill attack, winning the match (even if it's in the first round). If the defender mashes enough to break out, nothing happens. Guilty Gear is the only game in the series in which computer players execute instant kills on human players. They are also often (possibly always) seen performing them on each other in demo matches that play after a while of no input at the title screen.