Many games have been released in the Guilty Gear series, from Missing Link’s humble start to Strive’s streamlined systems. There’s a Guilty Gear for everyone, and almost every game had some kind of scene. Even the objectively broken Missing Link and the strange Guilty Gear 2: Overture have their fans. Except, there’s one game in the series that was so obscure, even Japanese documentation is incomplete. I’m talking about none other than the Atomiswave exclusive, Guilty Gear X Version 1.5.
If you want to get straight into the history and gameplay of X 1.5, then skip the Learning About 1.5 section. It’s not essential for understanding the rest of the article, although I think it’s a fun read chronicling just how deep the rabbit hole goes with this game. So without further delay, let’s get into the most forgotten Guilty Gear.
Learning About 1.5
All most people know about X 1.5 is that it was made to bridge the gap between X and XX. They might also know that it was only sold overseas, and never had an official Japanese release. These are all true, but only touch the surface of 1.5’s history. I didn’t even know these things going into this project. I hadn’t even heard the name GGX 1.5 until I stumbled across it on Wikipedia. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but when it got added to Fightcade 2, I got curious. Just how different was it from X?
So my journey began innocently enough, labbing 1.5 in March 2022. After doing a little digging on the game, it became apparent that very little of it was documented online. So I figured I should make a full changelist for the game. No one else had done it, and now that there were resources to compare X and 1.5 side by side, I didn’t think it’d take long. And after two days, I’d produced a mostly correct changelist. I posted it in the Dustloop discord, then moved on.
Flash forward a couple of months and I had almost entirely forgotten about the game. Then, Tarkus Lee released his Dustloop article on Testament (which you can read here). This got me interested in making an article myself, with my first plan being to make one on Missing Link. However, I remembered that my changelist for X 1.5 didn’t have a good home, so I figured that would be a good way to share it. It only took me a few days to finish the first draft, and I felt good about it. It was basic but I felt it had everything it needed. Only, there was one thing bothering me. I couldn’t find any solid release date. The GG fandom wiki claimed that it was released in February 2003, but this was when it was announced. The Atomiswave wasn’t even out by then. So I started digging.
My first stop was guiltygearx.com, Arcsys’ official GG website. When you pull up the site, it has a nice timeline of all the games in the series, with Strive at the top and Missing Link at the bottom. It even includes all the updated versions and obscure titles like GG Petit 1 and 2. But here’s where things got strange. The section on GGX mentions GGX Plus and GGX Advanced Edition, but not GGX 1.5. I decided to check if any otheere official Arcsys website had info on it, but not one even mentioned it. Consequently, I tried looking up when the Atomiswave came out since X 1.5 was supposed to have launched alongside it.
According to Sega Retro, a website dedicated to the history of Sega and Sammy, the Atomiswave came out in Japan in 2003 and overseas in 2004. So I went with this as my date. Only, that didn’t make any sense. The promo poster for the game advertised it as coming out in Spring, 2003. And keep in mind, this game only released outside Japan.
Now I was really confused. At this point, I was starting to have irrational thoughts such as "was X 1.5 even released in the US?" I only had proof that it was actually sold in China. The finish line was moving farther and farther away. Undeterred, I set out now to find some kind of evidence that it was actually sold stateside.
I started by reading what was linked from Sega Retro, those being Sammy’s financial reports. Unfortunately, I learned barely anything from them. They said the Atomiswave was released in 2003, but they never specified if it was a worldwide release or Japan only. Under normal circumstances, I would’ve just interpreted that to mean worldwide, but I had Sega Retro’s word going against that, so I wasn’t certain. And so, I turned to the WayBack Machine.
The first thing I used WayBack on was the a couple Japanese sites. The first was a game reviews website, which didn’t yield good results, but a site that did an overview on 1.5 had a few interesting things. One useful part was that it linked to a website called Highway Games which featured a product description of GGX 1.5. This was an American site, and they listed the game's release date as 2003. However, they didn’t say exactly when in 2003, and looking deeper into the page, I couldn’t find any actual listings or sales of 1.5. As a result, my information was still incomplete. More notably, the Japanese overview linked to an older version of guiltygearx.com. As it turns out, the site has existed since September 2000 and had undergone many changes. By going to the English, Chinese, or Korean versions of the site, you could find a section for X 1.5, including movelists, lore, and artwork, mostly recycled from X.
Interestingly, these sections only appeared sometime between May and October 2003, a few months after X 1.5’s release if the dates were correct. Additionally, the Japanese version of the site had zero mentions of X 1.5. Oddly, Arcsys seemed to care very little about the game. And tragically, it still didn’t answer my question as to whether it was actually sold in the states. Luckily, Sammy’s website was linked on guiltygearx.com.
Sammy was the developer of the Atomiswave system as well as the publisher of Guilty Gear at the time. Considering that 1.5 was their big push to get GG popular in the west, their website would surely have it. I was partially right. The 2003 version of the Japanese website only mentioned X 1.5 in their news section. They had two articles, one on their AOU (now known as JAEPO) 2003 exhibition, the other on E3 2003. Both had very few details on X 1.5, basically just saying it existed and would be sold overseas.
However, there were Sammy sites for the US and EU. I hoped they'd have more to say on 1.5 there. I started with the US, and to my excitement, they had a section on Atomiswave games. Thinking I’d finally get my answers, I scrolled down the list. Only to have my hopes betrayed.
Despite having every other Atomiswave game in existence at the time, X 1.5 was absent. I had no idea what to think at this point. It was almost like the game had never existed, and I had basically no evidence that it was ever sold anywhere besides China. I was getting desperate. I searched through the distributors linked on Sammy’s website, but not a single one of them ever included X 1.5 among the games they were selling. With no options left, I turned to Sammy’s European site.
I didn’t have high hopes at this point that I’d find anything, the game being as elusive as it is. But my luck finally turned around. The EU site had its own list of Atomiswave games, and not only did it include X 1.5, it also had promotional materials. Finally, after so much searching, I had found what felt like the holy grail. Evidence that the game was actually sold somewhere. However, this wasn’t enough for me at this point. I needed more than a vague description, I wanted real proof. I started going through the distributors listed on the EU site. The first few turned up no results, but I struck gold with the Italian distributor Faro Games. Their site from 2003 not only had GGX 1.5 listed, but they’d made their own edit of the promo poster. Finally, rock hard evidence that this game was sold in the west.
Still, I hadn’t gotten any confirmation that it had ever existed in the states. I checked a few more North American distributors but found nothing. The best evidence I found was an SRK post from 2006, stating they’d been playing the game since 2003. However, I have no idea if this person is even American, and their profile was deleted so I have no way to check. In the end, with all my resources exhausted, I had to give up on finding proof that it was sold in the US.
At this point though, I was too invested. I needed to know everything about this game. And with the questions of why it was made and where it was sold now answered, I had one left; who made it? GGX 1.5 was developed at the same time as #R, so my first guess was that the game was developed by Sammy. There was no way to be certain though, so I cleared the arcade mode and recorded the credits. Here’s what I came out with:
Director: Kazuya Yukino
Producer: Minoru Kidooka
Programmers: Hidemichi Suzuki, Hideto Oota, Minoru Kidooka
Graphic Designer: Eriki Takahashi
It was a 5 man team. And while I have no idea how long the development cycle was, I can’t imagine it was that long since the game entirely uses existing resources. Interestingly, Daisuke Ishiwatari appears to not have been involved with this entry, presumably working on #R.
Of the staff involved, Hidemichi Suzuki was a programmer at Arcsys, Kazuya Yukino was an Arcsys designer, and Minoru Kidooka was a producer for X as well as later GG projects. The other two, Eriki Takahashi and Hideto Oota, never returned for later Arcsys projects. My best guess is that the two were Sammy employees, but they were never credited in any of Sammy's other games, so it's possible they were hired exclusively for 1.5.
So, a small team without the guidance of Daisuke made this entire game. This may explain some of the more unusual changes in this game, but it’s also interesting to think about. This game was supposed to be GG’s big push into the overseas markets, yet it had little support from Arcsys or Sammy. While I can only speculate, I’m guessing that Arcsys and Sammy were banking too hard on westerners being excited to have their first arcade Guilty Gear since Missing Link and X had only come out on consoles outside Japan.
So, what's left to find out? Not much, but I still have no conclusive evidence that it was ever sold in North America. I don’t get why the game seems to be completely non-existent in the US, especially considering Sammy’s financial reports indicated they wanted to target that market. I also still have no idea why Arcsys refuses to acknowledge the game’s existence, although I have a few guesses, mainly coming down to it being unsuccessful and never getting released in Japan or Arcsys somehow not having the rights to it. Now, it was a fun journey, but let’s get into the game itself.
GGX 1.5 was an update to GGX designed to bring over improvements from XX. It was first announced on February 7th, 2003 as part of Sammy’s booth at the Amusement Machine Operators' Union Amusement Expo 2003 (AOU2003) which was showing off the then-upcoming Atomiswave system. This reveal came alongside the statement that it would only be released overseas with no plans to release it in Japan.
X 1.5 was developed for the Atomiswave with the goal of helping popularize the new system and the GG series in the west. Keep in mind that at this time, XX was only officially released in Japan and X had only been released on the PS2 overseas. Thus, 1.5 was the first GG to come out in a year and a half for the west, and their first arcade Guilty Gear.
The game was developed by just 5 people, and while the exact length of the development cycle is unknown, it can be assumed it wasn’t that long since it was working almost entirely with existing resources. Daisuke Ishiwatari had no involvement with this project and this is one of the few GGs to have him not credited for any role. This is likely because #R was being developed at the same time, which also explains why the team was so small.
So, the stage was set for this game’s release in April 2003 alongside the launch of the Atomiswave. And yet, no one’s heard of this game. That’s because, in retrospect, the game was practically set up to fail.
Ultimately, the game was only an update to GGX and combined with the lack of advertising and the need to import it, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for 1.5 in Japan. According to Japanese arcade game reviewer にゃんこ様 (Nyanko-sama), 1.5 basically doesn’t exist in Japan, and the cabinets they do have were imported from China. Most damning, #Reload came out in March, making the game obsolete for hardcore fans.
And despite Sammy's hopes, it was unpopular stateside too. While it’s harder to determine why it failed in the west, there are a number of factors we can point to. The Atomiswave wasn’t successful, and while it wasn’t a failure either, it was never profitable for Sammy because of the R&D costs. Another issue is that the game had very little advertising, even Arcsys itself not giving it much promotion until a few months after its release. Another thing to account for is that arcades were dying in the west at this time. This during the so called "Dark Age" for fighting games, and the industry was moving more towards home consoles. Finally, the name itself is very unclear. GGX had already been out in the Playstation 2 for about a year and a half overseas, and it’s not immediately apparent that X 1.5 is a different game. This would’ve diminished its value in the eyes of consumers and arcade owners, who wouldn’t have wanted to take a gamble on what looks like the same game that was already released on consoles.
All of this led to 1.5 being by far the least popular GG and, until this article, there was no comprehensive source of information on it. Even the places that do exist are lacking in details. So now that you have the full background, let’s get into the game itself.
GGX 1.5, as mentioned, is an update on GGX. This means none of the characters added in XX were backported, and key mechanics like Burst, FRCs, and air throws remain absent. However, a few mechanics were changed to be more balanced.
OTG hits work completely difference in 1.5 compared to any other entry. For those unaware, in GGX hitting the opponent in OTG didn’t let them tech. They stayed knocked down and you got up to 2 OTG hits and a hard knockdown. This allowed for insane setups like Johnny getting a free unblockable from Bacchus Sigh into Level 2 Mist Finer off every knockdown or Venom getting three balls from any combo. This was changed in 1.5. You can still hit the opponent twice on OTG to assure a knockdown, but they now wake up almost immediately. This removes many of the more unfair setups characters had.
Another big change is the removal of GGX FD canceling. FD canceling persists as a mechanic into later titles, but only for kara canceling from normals. This is generally useless outside of divekick shenanigans with characters like Chipp and Faust. However, in GGX, you could cancel Dusts into FD, even when canceling from another attack. This lets characters do incredibly long blockstrings and simple high damage loops. This is naturally removed in 1.5, generally leveling the playing field.
Across the board, defense and stun values are increased, making the game a bit less explosive but still deadly. Presumably, these values match those of XX. Another minor change is the removal of obstructive foreground objects, such as the statues in the corner of the Japan stage. Funnily enough foreground objects wouldn’t be removed in mainline titles until AC. Finally, there are neither taunts nor respects.
What's more interesting though is the seemingly untintentional changes. 1.5 has multiple abnormalities compared to any other Guilty Gear, and why these are present is unclear. To start, level 4 and higher moves do 2 more frames of hitstun on crouching opponents. While this may sound minor, this has huge repurcussions. Here's just one example.
A Ky crouching combo exclusive to 1.5
This small change heavily affects some characters' combos, and lets them do confirms they couldn't dream of doing in later games. This ad Adding on to this further is a universal gravity change. Every launcher, including sweeps, sends opponents slightly higher than in base X. This comes up a lot, whether it be Axl's Hyakue Renshou dropping on hit, or Sol having to do incredibly precise routes to combo Volcanic Viper into Knockdown. This too changes combos in some very interesting ways, such as Zato being able to combo 2D into Drill. Combined, these differences add some uniqueness and depth to 1.5 that would otherwise be missing, and helps it feel less like a more vanilla version of base X.
Chipp can combo off Genrouzan thanks to the gravity change
A few new things were also added. The game has its own character select screen, although the rest of the UI is the same as GGX. It also has a survival mode.
They also added the Auto gatling option. After selecting a character, the game asks if you want MANUAL or AUTO. Selecting normal is exactly what you’d expect, it doesn’t change anything. However, selecting auto gives your character an auto-combo.
By repeating any button on hit or block, a character will start to do a specific normal sequence into a special move, or if you have 50% or more tension, an overdrive. All auto-combos follow the order of P > K > S > H > Special/Overdrive. They can also be done from any starting strength, it’ll just go to the next strength in order (i.e. if you start from S it’ll go S > H > Special). The only exceptions are normals that don’t cancel such as Anji’s 5P or Ky’s f.S. A lot of the time these auto-combos are bad, and often won’t even combo into the ending special (Sol’s ends with Bandit Revolver, meaning it will never combo unless you have dash momentum). In hindsight, they are interesting considering this was the first time an Arcsys title had an auto-combo system and is likely one of the earliest implementations of one. One can think of it as a predecessor to stylish mode.
So those are the general changes, and while important, they’re mostly fixing flaws with GGX. But there’s more to a fighting game than the basic systems. Where 1.5 really gets different is in the character changes.
In 1.5, Sol received a fair few changes that are mostly good. He got Gunflame Feint, and in this game, he even yells out Gunflame when you do it. Bandit Revolver launches at a slightly shallower angle, making BR loops easier and more damaging in the corner but harder in midscreen. Held Bandit Revolver (later replaced by Bandit Bringer) had its first hit removed and ground bounces on hit, making it much better for mixups but very hard to use in combos. It’s also still not especially fast. Riot Stamp was adjusted to be more like the XX version, going at a faster and shallower angle. His most interesting change though is the addition of Fafnir, only it’s not XX Fafnir. Instead, it’s a version of Fafnir unique to this game that’s the best of the XX and AC versions. It’s special cancelable like in AC, but it causes a knockdown on hit and in the corner gives a wallbounce. This gives 1.5 Sol easy knockdown combos even off farther out hits and lets him access his BR loops in the corner without spending meter on an RC. Its only weakness relative to other versions is that it's even on block, although this is still very good. On top of all that, he got to keep some nice things like plus on block BR and Dragon Install stacking. However, he received one major nerf in that his 5K was increased from 3F to 5F startup, a fairly big nerf for one of his most infamous normals. Still, Sol is doing well with all these changes.
Ky was one of the characters who benefitted the most from the removal of FDCs and changed OTGs. His strengths like better than average long-range conversions are now more relevant. However, he also received some cool additions. He got the XX 5H which is a nice improvement over the X 5H. It’s slightly slower but higher attack level, making it better for blockstrings. Air Ride the Lightning was added, which doesn’t change much but it’s nice to have. He also received Sacred Edge, which works differently in this game. Regardless of screen location, it launches the opponent high up on air hit. This makes it lead to air combos reliably even in midscreen. He also got the XX version of Stun Edge, which is much better for zoning. Maybe his coolest addition was that XX Greed Sever was added as 214H while keeping Crescent Slash as 214K (Ky’s old low crush overhead removed after X). This is a fun change since you get the combo applications of Greed Sever as well as its better low crush while still getting to use Crescent Slash which is better as a direct mixup. However, by far his best change was that 6K had it's attack level increased, making it +8. This is an absurd amount of frame advantage for a staple pressure and combo normal, and makes 1.5 Ky incredibly flexible. It opens up many new combo routes, especially on crouching hit, and makes it easier for him to threaten throw from blockstrings. This version of Ky is incredibly strong thanks to all these great changes
May wasn’t too notable in X, and consequently, very little was meaningfully changed in 1.5. Her dust was changed to the XX version, giving it slightly more range. Due to the gravity difference, it's now harder to combo off Overhead Kiss but also easier to combo off Ultimate Whiner in the corner. Her j.2H is higher attack level, making it consistently plus, a nice boon for her offense. Vertical Mr. Dolphin now knocks down in the latter half of its active frames, which while niche is useful. Perhaps most importantly, Restive Rolling is now the XX version, making it much more useful for combos and stalling, and Applause for the Victim had the amount of time needed to charge a level halved (5s-3s, 13s-7s, 25s-13s). These are some nice changes and she got to keep some of her bigger damage combos, so she's probably doing just fine.
Axl was one of the bottom tiers of X, as his zoning had some flaws and his offense didn’t make up for it. 1.5 does help fix some of these issues. His damage is now more even with the rest of the cast thanks to FDCs getting removed. Rensen Geki was buffed to its XX version, now hitting three times and featuring a mildly better hitbox. 6K was added, helping him cover some aerial angles he struggled with in X. Hachisubako was added, and it's just as ignorant and busted as it's XX iteration. On top of that thanks to the gravity changes, H Benten Gari a more consistent combo tool. Strangely though, he also has a couple nerfs. j.S has a slightly smaller hitbox, and the untech from followup Axl Bomber on H Benten has significantly less untech, removing it's ability to go into a bomber loop. On top of that, the gravity changes really hurt him. Rensen launches higher and doesn’t combo consistently into  and Hyakue Renshou drops most of the time when it hits. I don’t think these are big nerfs but it’s odd that he of all characters got nerfed. Still, 1.5 Axl is a massively improved character compared to X.
Chipp’s direct changes in 1.5 were fairly small. He got air shuriken on j.236K and Senshuu, the overhead rekka, now ground bounces instead of knocking down, making it more in line with later games. These presumably would help his pressure and combos although I suspect neither changes that much. Rather, the gravity changes were a huge boon for him. As demonstrated earlier, Chipp can now combo off Genrouzan, making his throw pressure a lot scarier. Additionally, he can combo off Banki Mesai in the corner, allowing for big 50 meter confirms. These enhance his damage and threat in pressure, helping him out just a bit.
Potemkin was god awful in X, primarily because he had few of the tools that normally make him work while also being in an environment where the universal mechanics worked against him. In 1.5, they gave him some but not all of the XX additions to his kit along with some new things. His 6P was changed to his modern one while the overhead was moved to 6K, but unlike XX, it retains its ability to cancel into any non-HS or D normals. This goes a long way in improving his anti-air game. Further helping that is that 6K retains it's gatlings into S and H normals, which when combined with the extra 2 frames of crouching hitstun, allow him to deal massive damage off overheads. His walk speeds were slightly improved, which is always nice. For more help in the movement department, his super jumps go farther, making his oki setups much more consistent. He had his j.D added as j.2H, a nice tool to have for mixing up air momentum. He also got FDB, along with its massive XX hitbox. This helps a lot in neutral since as well as reflecting projectiles, it’s a pretty good poke. Heavenly Pot Buster got full invuln, as it should’ve had in the first place. As the singular nerf he got, Giganter now floats on hit instead of stunning, removing his ability to hit it on OTG and get a free Pot Buster. Now it floats on hit, making it still a good albeit far worse combo extender. And, unique to this game, Potemkin now has a wake-up roll. From any knockdown, you can press 4K or 6K to roll forwards or back. This is fully invincible and can of course be mixed up with regular get up. However, it costs 25 tension to use, the only 25 tension option in X 1.5. This helps Pot’s defense a lot and is generally a cool concept. It's hard to say just how much these buffs help.
Faust barely changed in 1.5. He gained Love on j.236P, which is nice and helps a little with his gameplan, and gained the S follow-up to pogo stance which was absent in X. Besides that though, he’s basically unchanged. That is, excluding his infinite. Because of the 2 extra frames of hitstun on crouch, Faust is able to follow up Scalpel Pull with 2S > 2H, then combo it back into Scalpel Pull, ad infinitum. This is a real infinite, ableit situational since you can't get it off instant overhead, but since there's no burst the opponent just has to hold it. This alone makes Faust a lot more threatening.
Faust can do a very simple infinite thanks to the crouching hitstun anomaly
Millia was the top 1 of X, and one of the most broken characters in Arcsys history. And accordingly, her 1.5 changes are mostly nerfs, most of which she got from XX. Starting from the lighter ones, the active frames of j.H (which at this point was the helicopter, her j.2H in +R) were slightly reduced. Her 6P had its startup increased from 6F, 15F to 8F, 17F, although the total recovery was reduced by 3 frames. Getting to more significant changes, her 2K was increased from 4F startup to 5F. This hurts it as abare and removes her ability to link into it from standing hit 6K. She lost the ability to cancel her slashes into 2D, making it harder to convert into knockdown. Heavy Tandem Top was changed to the XX version. For those unaware, X H Tandem Top was active almost immediately while linger for a long time, ensuring it always hit meaty. Now it's the classic delayed activation disc. Finally, her 2H had it's startup increased (7F-11F), making it no longer capable of comboing from her kicks and much harder to use in juggles. She did receive some good changes though. Slash Tandem Top has less active frames but recovers faster, allowing it to be comboed off in the corner and have better frame advantage. Lust Shaker can now be activated with 214S as well as Mash S, but it's still the GGX version instead of the superior XX variant. The 5K > 6K gatling was added, which is mostly irrelevant but useful. Finally, and by far most significantly, she received Silent Force, better known as Pin. It's only the j.214S version but it goes a long way in further improving her neutral, combos, and pressure. Overall, while she did have far more nerfs than buffs, she's still Millia and she still has one of the best overall toolkits in the game. Considering that she got to keep some of the more ridiculous things of X Millia like comboing off Bad Moon and Dead Angle, she’s probably still top tier.
Perhaps out of fear of him being too strong like his XX incarnation, Zato received some nerfs. On the buffs side of things, he received Shadow Gallery on j.41236S. Theoretically, it should help with converting combos into more damage and better knockdown. Drunkard Shade had some improvements, with faster startup, more pushback, and less recovery. Additionally the gravity differences allow 2D to combo into 22S, a nice little combo to have. On the other hand, the nerfs. Flight had its total duration shortened by a little bit but nothing big. Maximum length Break the Law now has extra recovery. Only Drill Special's first hit is a low, which while not taking away the unblockable setups, makes them a lot easier to block. Most damning though was his loss of gatlings into 2D. 6P, 5K, 2K, 2S, and 5H all lost their ability to gatling into 2D, seriously limiting his ability to combo into knockdown. This makes his gameplan so much harder to start, and while his pressure is still incredible once it's going, this is still a huge hit. He's almost definitely still workable, he's no Slash Eddie, but Zato could be facing some difficulties in 1.5.
In 1.5, Baiken received a couple of moves from her XX iteration and a buff to her 2H. 2H is now jump cancelable and launches airborne opponents significantly higher, helping some combos. 6K, the throw invuln kick, was added. It’s about as useful as you’d expect, great for beating wake-up throw attempts and for general pressure. She also received Kabari along with Tetsuzan, its follow-up. This is goes a long way in helping her pressure game since FDCs are gone. She also got Youshijin on 412P (the anti-air chain GC), while Zakuro (the anti-air grab GC) got moved to 412H, meaning she has an extra anti-air guard cancel. The extra flexibility is nice although functionally you use them in similar ways, especially since Suzuran can’t go into GCs. Finally, the XX and onwards version of Youzansen was added on j.623H, keeping the X version on j.623S. This is pretty cool since you get j.623H’s better IOH and j.623S’ better stalling and invincibility.
Testament in X was a simple character based around their high low with 6P and 2K. They have none of the traps they got in later games, and that hasn’t changed in 1.5. Warrant had its input changed to 214S from 214K to align with XX. 6K was added, notably the XX version which doesn't hop forwards. It gatlings into 6P and 6H, even comboing into 6H on regular hit. 6H in turn was also changed to the XX version, now knocking down with high untech and no longer special cancelable. Similarly to these other changes, Grave Digger was changed to the XX version, now being air ok and wall bouncing in the corner. Most importantly, their normals were changed to their XX versions. f.S, 2H, 5H, and 2D were all different moves in X, and they were accordingly adjusted. However, this version of f.S isn't quite the same. Insted of level 3, it's a level 4 move. This gives it ridiculous combo versatility, comobing into 2H or Grave Digger even from a range. This synergizes incredibly well with Nightmare Circular, as it can combo after it from a distance, which when combined with Grave Digger, leads into a Grave Digger loop for boatloads of damage. This change makes Testament's conversions incredibly intimidating, especially considering they have one of the best overheads in the game. Testament is doing very well for themselves in 1.5, and is a definitive upgrade over their old version.
Anji is probably the character most well known for abusing FDC in base X, being able to ToD most characters from a single c.S. However, with the removal of FDC, Anji's viability is very unclear. In terms of direct changes, there aren't many. His dust had its recovery significantly reduced, which might be nice on occasion. His X 6K (3P in +R) was replaced with his current more well known 6K. He had his K Fuujin follow-up, which was Shin: Nishiki in X for some reason, replaced with Issokutobi, the more familiar hop. He also had Tenjinkyaku (the overdrive crossup stomp) added to his movelist, which while not great can’t hurt to have. Unfortunately, he still only has X Fuujin so he doesn’t get the best combos from it and can't blast through many things. Overall, Anji seems to have lost far more than he's gained, although he can still dish out the damage in scenarios.
Johnny’s X iteration is probably the most infamous character from the game, maybe even more so than Millia since while he is worse than her, the way he wins is much lamer. What made him truly powerful were the OTG mechanics of X, and accordingly, Johnny’s biggest nerf was the changes to OTGs. He no longer gets his unblockable setups and has to play generally with the same rules as the rest of the cast now. He received a couple of direct nerfs too. Baccus Sigh lasts 3 seconds instead of 6, giving him less time to land an unblockable, and Level 1 Low Mist Finer had its speed nerfed to no longer combo off his slashes and heavies for easy, long-range knockdowns. He did get a couple of neat things though. Level 1 Mid Mist Finer launches lower, making it easier to contest opponents after they tech. More importantly, Ensenga was added, and as per usual it's a good combo ender. Landing Enkasus is especially hard without j.D, but they're still possible and his only reliable way of getting knockdown off air combos. Combined with his higher number of jump cancelable normals, he has more ways to IOH with it. Johnny still has his X normals which were better than his XX and onwards normals too. Still though, with the loss of his win condition and reliable ways of leveling up, he seems a bit challenged compared to base X.
Venom received exclusively quality of life changes in 1.5. Ball Set’s input was 63214X in X, so it got changed to 214X. It also became usable in the air too, expanding his options for setups. The only other change was S Carcass Raid had its angle slightly adjusted. With how little has changed for him, he’s probably around the same area strength-wise.
Next we’re looking at the queen of the gorillas, Jam. She had a fair few changes, but notably, in X she was the poster child of abusing its mechanics. She was great at using FDCs, consistently setting up two touch scenarios on block and on hit. How heavily this affects her is hard to say, especially considering she still hits hard with some of the most powerful versions of her specials she's ever had. Her 5K was changed to XX and accordingly the old X 5K is now 6K. 22K (Ryuujin Card) has slightly more total frames, while 22S (Gekirin Card) has significantly more total frames. This means that 22H (Kenroukaku Card) is the only one that can be used while still getting decent oki. Geki: Saishinhou, her third reversal overdrive, was also added. Last but certainly not least, Hochifu, which was a strange command input move that functioned kind of like a parry, was changed to the more traditional parry style move we know it as now. These are mostly good changes but also hurt a little. At the end of the day though, it's Jam and no matter what nerfs she receives her toolkits stays strong.
Finally, Dizzy is the last character we're looking at, and as she was the boss of X, she got almost all nerfs. Her triple jump was removed, only getting a double jump now. Her j.S got changed to the XX version (the old version is what’s now her j.2S), which is a quite a bit worse than what she had before. The hardest hitting nerf though is the replacement of the fish with their XX versions. P fish in X did three quick chomps and was steerable, making it quite good for space control and pressure. Base X K fish homed into the opponent and did three slow chomps, making it even better for pressure than P fish as well as an intimidating neutral tool. S fish in X was the “guardian” fish. It stayed near Dizzy and only attacked when the opponent got close. This is just as good as it sounds and made her annoying to approach as well as protecting her on her offense. The H fish did a chomp then shot a long lasting laser which covered an angle between the current S and H fish. On top of that it was steerable. These were all changed to be their respective versions of XX and onwards fish, making them quite a bit weaker albeit still strong. Further nerfing them is a slight increase to the cooldown on fish summons. Finally, she has a normal exclusive to this game with j.2H. It uses the animation of j.2S but seems to have been scaled slightly bigger and is functionally completely different. It stops all her air momentum and goes straight down, knocking down even on grounded hits. It’s hard to say what exactly you’d use it for but it can change air momentum (it doesn’t seem to have any landing recovery), crossup, and instant overhead. Overall, while nerfed, she seems to be doing fine albeit not nearly as formidable as she was in X.
I’ve spent a whole lot of my time labbing and researching this one obscure Guilty Gear title, that while crazy isn't on the levels of later games. This might cause people to ask "why?" Well, it’s simply because no one knew much of anything about this game. Every resource I found online for this game wasn’t even close to comprehensive. It was practically a new game waiting to be cracked open, and in many ways still is. While I’ve done the part of finding (hopefully) all the differences and researching its history, who knows how this game plays in practice. Maybe Potemkin’s roll is game-breaking. Maybe Jam without FDCs falls off in terms of character strength. And that’s the great part of it all. There’s so much we don’t know, and it’s exciting. You rarely come across games like this, especially in a series with as much legacy as Guilty Gear. I encourage all reading this to load up Fightcade and join the GGX 1.5 lobby. There’s a good chance I missed something, but more importantly, it’d be great to play this game and experience something new in the Guilty Gear series, even if it’s only for a little while.
Here's a list of the different sources I used to find info on the game.
https://guiltygear.fandom.com/wiki/Guilty_Gear_X_ver_1.5 - The GG fandom wiki was where I started, and while the page itself is a stub, it led me to a couple of pages that were more descriptive.
http://www5b.biglobe.ne.jp/~kokuyume/IMAGE2/GGX.htm - This was the first Japanese page on the game I checked out, and it provided me with a good understanding of the changes and basics of the game’s history. It had the most detailed changelist I could find online, and while it still wasn’t complete, I’m thankful to the author for putting the work in to find what they did.
http://kakuge.info/d/t/ggx15.htm - This was the other Japanese source I used. While their changelist wasn’t quite as detailed, their history of the game was more in-depth, and where I got most of the details I gave in this article.
https://archive.org/web/ - I’m very thankful to the Internet Archive for their job of preserving the old internet. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to find out nearly as much as I did about X 1.5 and its history. In particular, the WayBack Machine is a great tool for anyone researching old internet pages.
https://seesaawiki.jp/w/ggxx_matome/d/GGX%c0%ce%cf%c3 - The Japanese GGX wiki was very helpful for finding differences between versions. There were many things I just didn’t know about GGX since they aren’t apparent when playing or watching the game, so this was a vital resource for completing the changelist.
https://segaretro.org/ - While they did have a big mistake on release dates, Sega Retro is a valuable archive of info on Sega and Sammy's history. Thanks to them I was able to find Sammy’s financial reports which were useful in learning the history of the Atomiswave.
And a special thanks to Rockforge, who did just as much if not more labbing than me. He discovered the crouching hitstun bug among other differences, and the changelist would've certainly been incomplete without his help.