[GUILTY GEAR -STRIVE-] Daisuke Ishiwatari Interview. “While protecting the spirit of GUILTY GEAR, we aim to broaden the field of players who can enjoy the game.”



This interview took place on sight at [ARCREVO America 2019] which was held on November 16th and 17th in California. We spoke directly on sight with the game’s General Director, Daisuke Ishiwatari, so we will present the interview in that form.

GUILTY GEAR Strive’s General Director, Daisuke Ishiwatari


4Gamer: The title for the new game was announced – GUILTY GEAR STRIVE. Please share with us the thoughts and meaning behind the name.

Ishiwatari: Continuing the theme of the entire GUILTY GEAR series, we decided on STRIVE. Furthermore, the IV in STRIVE is in bold so it also holds the meaning of “4”, but I think it’s fine if this is ignored. Up until now, X, XX, and Xrd all contained the letter X, so we decided to go with STRIVE to separate this title from those games. 


4Gamer: What is the theme of the GUILTY GEAR series?

Ishiwatari: This becomes a discussion about the story, but the theme revolves around seeking the answer to the question, “What does it mean to be human?”. For the new title as well, we want to continue with this theme and create a new drama to unfold.

4Gamer: I was able to play the demo version; I felt the game was much easier to play than the older titles. Please share with us why you decided to make such a big change to the feel of the game?

Ishiwatari: For this title, we felt like we needed to appeal to both people that have never played a Fighting Game and to those who enjoy the modern style of Fighting Games; therefore we emphasized accessibility during development.

4Gamer: Ishiwatari, you’ve always had the image of someone who loves traditional Fighting Games and really puts his own into personality into whatever he makes. I’ll say it directly, but I felt the fact that you are making the new title easy to play is a bit uncharacteristic for you.

Ishiwatari: The GUILTY GEAR series up until now has certainly been heavily influenced by my own personal image of what a Fighting Game should be, but because of this, the games were difficult to approach for new players. For this title, we wanted to reset that part and aim to make a game that can be enjoyed by many different players.

However, this by no way means that I’m looking to make any compromises regarding the development of the game. I think we need to push that level of detail and depth that only ArcSystem Works and no other developer can achieve, and I believe that the entire staff understands this.

This new title is the newest title in the long standing GUILTY GEAR series, so I absolutely believe we must protect the spirit of GUILTY GEAR. I’m currently in a position where the staff keeps proposing a multitude of new ideas, but I have to turn them away like a seawall. (laughs). 



Weird to translate analogy, so made some Jiyuna Art. (Not from the Article)

4Gamer: Please share with us what led to you developing the new game.

Ishiwatari: I’ll be repeating what I said earlier, but while we were brainstorming and trying to figure out what a new player wanted in a Fighting Game, we came to the conclusion that we should reset the experience everyone has had up until now. I’ve always believed that a Fighting Game should feature a wide variety of characters, so we decided to use the base of GUILTY GEAR Xrd and increase the amount of characters. (Jiyuna Note – This is the only quote I am uncertain of, but I believe he is explaining why he chose to use Guilty Gear’s already robust roster rather than create a new IP?)

4Gamer: Regarding the idea that a Fighting Game should feature a large cast, do you plan on adding classic characters to Strive that were not featured in GUILTY GEAR Xrd Rev 2?

Ishiwatari: I said the same thing during Rev 2, but if we can sell enough we will put every character in the game (laughs). Furthermore, GUILTY GEAR Strive is a separate title from Rev 2, so I still have not thought about whether or not Rev 2 is finished. There is still a possibility that more classic characters may be added to Rev 2 in the future.

4Gamer: Currently, Sol, Ky, May, Axl, Chipp, Potemkin, Faust and one unnamed character have been revealed. Can you share with us why you selected these 7 classic characters?

Ishiwatari: This is something the entire staff struggled with, but we looked for “Characters that are recognized around the world”, “Characters that GUILTY GEAR fans want in the game”, and “Characters that feel good to new players”, and this is the lineup that we felt best matched those criteria.

4Gamer: All of the visuals have changed, but among those May changed so much that you could almost call her a different person. I feel like this was a good move and you’ve succeeded in gaining a lot of new fans.

Ishiwatari: I’m very happy it worked out and also the views on her reveal video continue to skyrocket (laughs).

maxresdefault (1)

MAY TRAILER – https://youtu.be/f3WPYei07jM

4Gamer: She’s very popular because no matter which frame you look at, she’s always cute.

Ishiwatari: This is because our Art Director thoroughly designed the character piece by piece.

4Gamer: Besides May, Faust also received a big change from his past design.

Ishiwatari: May and Faust both received big and noticeable changes, but we are carefully designing each character with new players and the global market in mind, while thinking about how much of that character’s charm we can show off.

4Gamer: Next please allow us to ask about the gameplay. Compared to the Xrd Series, I felt that the damage dealt by players was rather high. Do you plan to maintain this level of damage?

Ishiwatari: Certainly the amount of damage dealt has increased, but looking at our data from the playtests, the length of each match has not changed that much from the older titles. This shows that the Neutral game and the Mind games have expanded.

4Gamer: Certainly I did not get the impression that the matches were short from the games I played.

Ishiwatari: The titles up until now focused on performing long and difficult combos in order to deal big damage, but in order to perform these techniques a great deal of time spent practicing was necessary. We wanted to revise this part of the game, and make it easier for players to have the chance to win against higher level players. Of course, we are making sure that the game rewards players who put in the time practicing, so please be at ease.

4Gamer: In past titles, your success was linked to your ability to perform high difficulty combos and setplay. By simplifying this part, I see you are placing more emphasis on the mind games.

Ishiwatari: Up until now I’ve aimed to create Fighting Games that play like Shougi. Shougi is a game where if there is a gap in you and your opponent’s skill level, then you will almost never lose. However, in order to match the current trends, it was necessary to change that part. I don’t know if this is a proper example, but I think I am aiming to create something close to Mahjong. Gameplay where confident movements, reads, and luck can allow one to seize a chance at victory.

4Gamer: The effect of Roman Cancel has also been narrowed down and its use has become easier to understand.

Ishiwatari: In the Xrd series, it was a system that had too high a degree of freedom, so this time we set the scope of its use. However, just narrowing down its use is not interesting, so we’ve made sure to include a variety of different techniques. Basically, hitting your opponent and performing a Red Roman Cancel is simple and strong, but we want high level players to be able to explore and find other uses for the system.

4Gamer: I also felt that it was easy to use Red Romal Cancel to extend my combos.

Ishiwatari: When you first start playing the game I think it will feel that way. But as you dive further into the game, there are also more difficult and interesting uses to discover so please look forward to that.


4Gamer: When talking about the GUILTY GEAR series, one of the words synonymous with the game is Okizeme –  the system of attacking your opponent as they get up; but in this version there are a lot of attacks that knock the opponent away and I felt like it has become difficult to perform Okizeme.

Ishiwatari: That’s correct. We decided that not focusing on midscreen Okizeme and instead expand on attacking in the corner would make for a better game. Up until now, there are many examples of players losing to powerful okizeme from Advanced players without being able to do anything in return. Removing this scenario and instead increasing the number of mind games per match was one of our concepts when designing the game.

4Gamer: In this title, when you perform a combo in the corner, your opponent is blown away and the stage changes. Is it safe to say this is also a system to prevent matches from becoming one-sided?

Ishiwatari: That’s correct. However, the person who performs the wall break receives a buff, so they are able to proceed at an advantage after the match resumes. Presently, the buff is a bonus to their Tension Gauge building, but this is only temporary and at this moment I am not sure what the buff will be in the final version.

4Gamer: In the current version, “Air Teching” which allows one to recover in the air is also gone. Please share your reasoning behind this.

Ishiwatari: Even in the past titles, there were many requests to add in the “Hold Button to Air Tech” feature, and I’ve discussed it countless times with the production staff throughout the years. Of course this discussion came up during the development of the current version, but I thought the whole reason this is even a discussion is because of the complex air battles that happen in the game which in turn add to the difficulty. That being the case, I thought maybe we are supposed to make a game without the need for Air Teching, which led us to our current system.

4Gamer: That’s a pretty big system change.

Ishiwatari: If you look back on the history of GUILTY GEAR, even though we attempted to create a new game with each title, we were held back and unable to proceed forward in many aspects due to the need to protect the conventional spirit of GUILTY GEAR. For this title, we are taking a development strategy to actively break free from those parts. This is a digression, but there actually is Air Teching in the game. This was put in to prevent infinite combos, so I don’t think you will see it in everyday play.

4Gamer: The Gatling System that offered a high level of freedom up until now has also been rather restricted.

Ishiwatari: When we made the original GUILTY GEAR, I thought it would be easy if you could just hit buttons in order to make attacks come out. In actuality, it is pretty easy I feel. However, when you look at it from a competitive standpoint, if you have a vast number of routes available then a new player will have no idea which route is the correct one to use. Because of this, Advanced Players will have an understanding through experience and reason that will create a gap between the players. 

Because of this, I thought it would be beneficial to restrict the available routes. This way the system would be easier to understand for a greater number of people

4Gamer: I think the GUILTY GEAR series is not just about the battle system, but the story and characters are also a key part of its appeal. Are you planning on adding the Story Mode that was so highly praised in the past versions?

Ishiwatari: I cannot say anything at the present time, but I would like to keep creating until the tale of Sol Badguy is completed. Also, I want to make it so that those new players who are now familiar with the previous story can keep up when playing GUILTY GEAR STRIVE.

4Gamer: Is the character with dreadlocks who appeared in the Trailer a main character in the story?

Ishiwatari: I can’t say at this time, but we are planning on it.


4Gamer: Ever since his face was revealed in the trailer there hasn’t been any new information, when can we expect a followup on the character?

Ishiwatari:  We plan on sharing things as soon as they are completed, so please wait a little longer.

4Gamer: In Japan, there is currently an Esports boom surrounding Fighting Games. Do you have plans to develop the new title with Esports in mind?

Ishiwatari: Of course we would like to get involved. However, I don’t know if our vision of Esports matches that of what certain Companies and Organizations think Esports is.

4Gamer: Since long ago, you have said Fighting Games are communication tool that connects the world.

Ishiwatari: Yes. Of course there is the competitive aspect, but I think it is something that everyone can get excited over together, regardless of language or nationality. Recently there has been a Rugby Boom in Japan; the “No Side” that is called at the end of the match, this is something that we could do with Fighting Games as well. (Jiyuna Note – “No Side” is an outdated Rugby term that still exists in Japan. It signals the end of the match, and means that the competition is over, all the players should forget their differences i.e there are no more sides).

4Gamer: What do you think of the Esports boom?

Ishiwatari: I think there are already too many different expectations depending on the business. However, I still feel doubts about whether or not the fun and excitement of Esports is properly being presented to the general audience. There are Esports shows being broadcast on late night television, but whenever I watch these I get the feeling that these are just programs that serve to promote the game. 

Simply using a game to host a tournament is certainly Esports, but I’m thinking about what needs to be done so the general audience is able to enjoy this. Just broadcasting tournament footage is not enough to spark interest. During the Rugby World Cup, they showed small rule explanations on the screen during the matches – I thought this was great. Regarding Esports, Sega has put out it’s Game Tournament Reporting System, bi-E-Play; I feel like this would be an interesting thing to test out.


Post Game Stats from Sega’s bi-E-Play.

4Gamer: Thank you for your time today. In closing, please send a message to all the fans looking forward to the release of GUILTY GEAR STRIVE.

Ishiwatari: The first playtest for this game took place in America, but we have plans to hold playtests within Japan as well. I believe that direct feedback from players that play the game is absolutely essential to creating a good product, so I would be grateful if you came out to play and share your thoughts and feelings on the new game.


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