Guilty Gear has one of the more ridiculous storylines in fighting games. A beautiful-looking series with a fantastic cast of heroes and villains, the sci-fi anime aesthetic lends itself to some wacky concepts.
The broad strokes of the series aren’t all that bizarre, as it tells a pretty basic story overall. In a world where magic was discovered, three scientists accidentally unleashed a new type of species that led to a lengthy war between these creatures (Gears) and humanity. One scientist became a genocidal monster, one a grizzled anti-hero, and another a mysterious wildcard watching over everything. Eventually, the war ended and peace reigned, but the possibility of the war reigniting is a constant threat.
That’s not too out there on its own. Except the story also features a large vigilante doctor who wears a paper bag to hide his identity as a crazed serial killer. There’s a ninja who gets elected President of the United States, only to later figure out it would be easier to just start his own country. There’s a comatose boy in a weaponized bed whose personality is a mix between Freddy Krueger and Mandark from Dexter’s Lab. There’s a yoyo-wielding bounty hunter, a time-traveling Axl Rose knockoff, a dandy vampire, an assassin who uses reality-bending billiards as a fighting style, and so on.
Shit gets weird.
With Guilty Gear Strive finally out on store shelves, giving us the long-awaited final battle between Sol Badguy and That Man, it’s time to take a look at the most powerful beings in the Guilty Gear universe. One character I’m leaving off the list is Leopaldon from Guilty Gear Isuka. Not only is the game not canon, but even WHAT Leopaldon is (a dog and a wizard piloting a yeti?) isn’t well-explained. But if you want Leopaldon, he’s definitely on our official ranking of all the characters in the series.
Anyway, here the most powerful characters in Guilty Gear:
Izuna, a hero introduced in Guilty Gear 2, is a bit on the mysterious side, but there’s enough information to make it apparent that he’s someone to take serious. Not only is he over 500 years old, but he resides in the Backyard, an environment so uninhabitable that most others would be crushed by its magical atmosphere. He’s skilled as a swordsman, and his teleportation abilities are said to be equal to the strength of several hundred mages combined.
It’s presumed that Izuna didn’t show up in Guilty Gear Xrd because Ariels saw him as such a threat to her plans that she sealed him away and kept him out of play before her schemes could really kick into gear. That’s quite the compliment, in a roundabout way.
Raven is all about experience and durability. He simply can’t die, can contort himself, and is unable to feel pain. Even his Instant Kill sees him summon energy that engulf him and his opponent, which turns his enemy to dust while he simply lives to fight another day. He also has control over spatial magic in a way that makes Faust look like a novice. He’s absolutely a force to be reckoned with no matter what character he’s up against.
Still, resilience can only get you so far. When you get down to it, he’s comparable to someone like Deadpool or Wolverine, albeit with an even stronger healing factor and some magic bells and whistles. He may live to fight again, but he can still be overwhelmed and defeated with the right strategy. Guys like Slayer and Dizzy might not be able to completely annihilate him, but they can presumably contain him.
13. THE VALENTINE SERIES
The initial Valentine was the final boss in Guilty Gear 2 and Ramlethal Valentine was the boss in Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-. They, along with Elphelt Valentine and Jack-O Valentine, are treated as crucial parts of the series.
Yet, they just…never really do anything that justifies ranking them higher on this list. Plus I have to lump them together because it’s hard to really compare them when they can apparently shut off each other’s powers.
Then again, I guess the original Valentine is the alpha of the group as she could upgrade her form a couple times over for the sake of final boss battles. Not that it did her any good.
I-No is a tough one to figure out. Guilty Gear XX introduces her as a major threat, and a mysterious one at that. Her origin isn’t explored at first, and by the time the series explains what the hell she is (some kind of being the universe created out of everyone’s wishes for a better tomorrow?), it doesn’t really give her much context as a combatant. That said, “Manipulating probability” is one of her powers, making her pretty damn formidable when combined with her almost unlimited battle experience and toughness.
Even though she’s treated as the boss character in Guilty Gear XX and spends the story messing with everyone, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core lets the rest of the cast catch up to her. Most of her endings involve her being defeated and even killed by those she just beat in-game. For instance, I-No defeats Baiken in-game but then Baiken just gets back up and murders her.
11. BAIKEN AND ANJI MITO
These two are so intertwined and comparable that they’ll have to share a spot. As I already mentioned, they both own I-No no matter who wins the in-game battle, which I’m going to take as a sign that they’re simply superior to her on the battlefield. Both are part of the series’ interesting subplot where people of Japanese descent are both incredibly rare, but also teeming with energy. Unlike May, these two have actually tapped into their genetic potential.
But it has its limits. Baiken has been demolished by Justice in the past, and her attempts to get revenge on That Man only ended in frustration when she couldn’t land a single hit. And he wasn’t even fighting back!
10. KLIFF UNDERSN
Poor Kliff is one of those old school fighting game characters who dies in his own ending, therefore dying in canon. Not that it’s surprising, considering he’s entering a fighting tournament in his late 80s. Still, Kliff is a legend and made a name for himself during much of the war against Justice. Sure, he was taken off the board before we could see how well he’d measure up to some of the younger warriors, but according to canon, Kliff survived at least 16 encounters with Justice.
He couldn’t seal the deal, but surviving against Justice that many times is too impressive not to give him a spot on this list. It’s not like Justice is the kind to spare a defeated foe out of respect. Kliff had to earn his survival time and time again.
9. KY KISKE
Ky Kiske has spent the entire series getting the short straw when compared to his rival and co-protagonist Sol. As Sol’s power keep creeping upwards and making him more and more OP with each new installment, Ky is just off to the side, feeling sorry for himself. He is still more than capable, but on paper, he just can’t hang with the likes of Sol and the other heavy hitters.
The epilogue for Guilty Gear Xrd suddenly shone a new light on Ky, though. Sol fought alongside Ky during the Crusades and saw what he was capable of. It looked nothing like the man he dueled with on multiple occasions across their adventures. Ky then admitted the truth: he had been holding back all this time because, while he may want to defeat Sol, he doesn’t want to kill him and those are two very different fighting strategies for him. Ky may not be some kind of nuclear option in battle, but if he truly wanted to, he could kill you 10 times before you hit the ground.
From his first appearance, Slayer made his mark as the retired assassin who was simply too strong for this shit. He’s more of an interested onlooker than a major player and usually only gets involved for the sake of his own amusement. With his otherworldly biology and centuries of experience, Slayer is rarely shown to be in any real peril. Even in defeat, he lies awake and bored, suggesting that he lost only because he allowed it.
It takes a while, but we do eventually get to see some measure of his potential. He’s casual about danger, but there are threats out there that could at the very least make him break a sweat. That’s basically the rest of this list.
Bedman spends the first half of Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- making his way through the rest of the roster. Depicted as an enigmatic being who fights his enemies both physically and mentally (and is near unstoppable on both fronts), Bedman not only overpowers series regulars, but is able to take on multiple opponents at once while still making them look like the underdogs.
The moment that truly shows how dangerous Bedman is when he comes across Slayer. At first, we get the idea that it’s a stalemate and that Slayer may be up against someone worthy of his effort. Then, sometime later, we see Bedman standing triumphantly over Slayer, Millia, and Venom, who all lie at his feet. And after that, he still keeps going, taking out Faust and Chipp while forcing Johnny to escape. Dude is scary.
6. PRESIDENT GABRIEL
Gabriel showed up in Potemkin’s ending, and since then Arc System Works has been playing up how incredible he is while never, ever putting him in a game! It’s outright maddening. Make him a DLC character or something. We’ve been waiting decades!
He’s a man Potemkin looks up to and confides in by the end of the first game. Then they introduce Slayer and tease tease this nigh-unbeatable immortal is Gabriel’s rival. It isn’t until Guilty Gear Xrd that it really becomes apparent how tough this guy is. After the story spent all this time building up Bedman, Gabriel completely clowns him like nobody’s business.
That’s what you get for killing that dog, you comatose asshole.
5. SOL BADGUY
Every now and then, fiction gives us a character so powerful that even trying to make them cease to exist does nothing. Blow up Darkseid with anti-matter, use magic to erase the Sentry, go back in time and destroy the MacGuffin that makes Apocalypse immortal, etc. They somehow just exist in spite of that. Sol is on that level. I-No once sent him back in time, had him kill his younger self, and Sol simply shrugged off the paradox. The dude is ridiculous.
Sol grows more powerful in each game and even then we’re told that he’s holding back. By the time the dust settles, he’ll probably be worthy of #1 post on the list, but right now, he’s just a high-ranking, angry fellow who’s important enough to be what the series’ bizarre title is named after.
Despite being killed off in the first game, Justice is the constant source of dread in Guilty Gear’s story. Many of the games have revolved around the threat of Justice’s return, whether it’s getting her daughter to follow in her footsteps, cloning, or even resurrection. And yes, Justice is bad news because when she was active, she led a war against mankind that lasted 101 years. She only lost because she was sealed away.
After being released from her prison, Justice was eventually done in by Sol Badguy, the only Gear to predate her creation. It could be said that Sol took her out when she was weakened, but it could also be said that Sol was holding back.
Regardless, I’m going to rank Justice higher because of of her mental control over the entire Gear race, Sol excluded. Yeah, that’s a pretty major weapon to have in your back pocket, even if it doesn’t really come into play in a one-on-one fighting game. Sol was lucky to be in a situation where he could take her out before she could call in the reserves.
Dizzy makes me think of when someone is writing a Justice League story and has to come up with a reason for Superman to not be around, like he’s busy in space or off in another dimension. Dizzy isn’t the protagonist of Guilty Gear, but she is the daughter of two of the most powerful characters, and is mainly held back by plot contrivance and her attempts at pacifism. If she wanted to, she could wipe the floor with practically anyone, and there’s even an alternate reality (one where Ky died during the Crusades) that shows her embracing her potential and leading the Gears to victory against humanity.
Her so-called “Instant Kill” in Guilty Gear Xrd paints the best picture. Dizzy reluctantly fires a projectile that misses its mark, but leaves a horrifying mushroom cloud in the distance. Her freaked out opponents can only survey the damage, slowly turn to her, and surrender. Again, that’s what she’s capable of when holding back.
2. ASUKA R. KREUZ/THAT MAN
I can’t think of a more ambitious concept for a fighting game character than That Man. He’s alluded to in Sol Badguy’s ending in the first Guilty Gear game, making you imagine he’ll be the final boss of the next game or maybe the one after that. Instead, he makes mysterious appearances in the Guilty Gear X games. We never get a good look at him, but we see that he’s capable of easily slapping aside anyone who gets in his way. Then he pops up in Guilty Gear 2, including in a boss battle where Dragon Install Sol Badguy can’t even dent him. The Guilty Gear Xrd series gives him a little more dimension, finally revealing his true face and name.
Now it’s time for Guilty Gear Strive where maybe, just maybe, That Man will be DLC down the line. Maybe. Since the beginning, the series has been building to a climactic battle between Sol Badguy and Asuka R. Kreuz. As it is right now, That Man has proved to be higher on the food chain than his old scientist colleague, but that kind of uphill battle is expected.
Guilty Gear 2 and Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- built up “Mother,” the force behind the Valentines and the one signing Bedman’s checks. At the end of -Sign-, we found out that the big mastermind is…a lady Pope possessed by a divine force. Sure, why not. Then in the next game, we got to see her go from putting on a professional and benevolent face for the public to going on a killing spree, painting her face like a juggalo, and ranting about how humanity is redundant and needs to be done away with.
Once again, Ariels would have made for a kickass final boss in Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, but she remained part of story mode only. She was eventually taken down, but it took Sol Badguy, Ky Kiske, Sin Kiske, and That Man teaming up to do it. But as revealed in Guilty Gear Strive, she’s still alive!
What is your ranking of the most powerful Guilty Gear fighters? Let us know in the comments!