Guilty Gear Strive, the most recent installment in Arc System Works’ flagship fighting game series, focuses on crazy combos, high-paced rushdown, and stunning visuals which never cease to amaze. Within the game exists a character so popular that she can instantly pull players back into the game — and attract those who don’t play the game at all. The character I am alluding to is none other than the big-boobed samurai herself, Baiken.
So let’s chat a little bit about who Baiken is exactly, and I’m sure it will be quite obvious to most of you as to why she has the levels of popularity that she has. However, I also want to dive into some of the more mechanical aspects of the character that appealed to me when I first encountered her in Guilty Gear Xrd.
Who is Baiken and why do I like her?
Baiken is a wandering samurai of Japanese descent whose home and family were lost during the Crusades that took place a hundred years before the events of the first Guilty Gear. Having witnessed the deaths of those she held dear, she became driven by revenge to get back at “That Man” — whatever the cost.
Now, when I refer to how I understood and interpreted Baiken, it’s mainly pertaining to the Xrd series of games. Looking at the changes made to the characters in Strive, I know that Arc System Works aren’t too scared to change up their characters considerably, so I know that Baiken may not have played exactly how she did in Xrd as she did back in Accent Core.
If you’ve read anything I’ve posted here on Rice Digital that focuses on fighting games, then you’ll know I tend to favour the female cast members over the men, that’s just the way I am — I love my ladies. (Don’t we all – Ed.) In Street Fighter I play Juri; in Guilty Gear, it’s been a mix of I-no and Baiken; in Dragon Ball I played Android 21; the list goes on. So when I saw Baiken back when she was released back in Xrd Revelator 2 my initial feeling of attraction was off the charts.
Baiken is a masterclass of character design with the awesome samurai garb, the huge overflowing pink hair, the eye-patch covering her missing left eye, her HUGE booba… (Conor. CONOR! Come back to us – Ed.) I could keep on going but it’s fair to say this character ticks every box for me when it comes to design. What I ended up liking most about Baiken, however, is the fact that in a super-aggressive game like Guilty Gear, I could play more defensively thanks to the tools that she had.
Baiken was known for her parry stance, which when performed could be followed up with numerous different options. So, you could parry and then retaliate depending on the situation with the most suitable follow-up — and I loved this about her! Parries and counterattacks are always such fun mechanics in fighting games, as they get even more useful as you grow as a player and start to notice tendencies in your opponents, or gaps in characters’ attack strings.
The transition to Strive
Guilty Gear Xrd, for me, was a game that I feel I got into too late and it was, unfortunately, one of those games where the remaining player base felt overwhelmingly strong. I don’t mind getting my ass handed to me over and over as long as I feel like I’m learning something, but this game was a different kind of beast. On top of having so many niche mechanics and character-specific interactions, I felt buried beneath a pile of information and there was no way I was going to catch up.
When Strive was announced I knew immediately that I would get into the game at the earliest possible point so that I could learn alongside everyone else, and take in all the information at a nice steady pace. I also knew that there was no way they would leave out a character as popular as Baiken, so at the same time I was preparing myself for her pending arrival.
As predicted she made her appearance come late January of 2022, and I was ready. Ready for a character I knew I loved who played in a more balanced style that I preferred… then I saw her character breakdown. Turns out most of her defensive mechanics were completely removed, replaced with a single parry and her new tether ability.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still love Baiken and I have been playing her pretty religiously since her release, and thanks to her innate design she still has a lot of really cool and creative stuff that she can do. My only real issue is that a lot of what I knew about Baiken was taken away and wasn’t really replaced with something comparable. Sure, she has a tethering ability now where she ties the opponent to herself which makes for bigger combos, but that’s it.
Who knows, perhaps over time and as the game gets older we will see characters gain new moves and Baiken may well receive another defensive mechanic again, and I would love that. All in all, I still really love the character — but now she feels like just another aggressive character in an already aggressive game.
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