You put your paper bag on, you take your scalpel out, that's what Guilty Gear's all about!
Guilty Gear Dust Strikers is the four-player fighting game that's not Guilty Gear Isuka. Just so we're clear here, Guilty Gear DS is unique and exclusive to the DS and plays a world apart from Isuka. Guilty Gear Isuka plays like... Guilty Gear. GGDS plays like Smash Bros., or closer yet, Jump Superstars. It works, too. It works just fine.
Guilty Gear Dust Strikers has all of the characters from Guilty Gear XX (no Aba, unfortunately) and a strange new boss. Characters still have their entire move lists, as far as I can tell, including their super moves, roman cancels, etc. However, the controls are simplified to the point that simply pressing a direction plus an action button equals a special move. Basic chains can all be done with the same button, and some moves will now knock characters to different levels in the arena, adding a new dimension to combos. There are also a few items that can be picked up around the arena, like a roast that gives a health bonus, a potion that gives infinite tension meter for a few seconds, etc. These are optional.
The mini-games are not unlike the "Hey, use the stylus! Oh my god, touch screen!" mini-games in a great deal of other DS games. I would say that they're forced and unnecessary, but playing mini-games with Faust, Jam, and May has melted my heart. In fact, catching cats and roasts on a platter with Jam was strangely addictive, and I played Venom's billiards until I cleared it in two turns. Mini-games are good for unlocks, too. Robo-Ky is customizable in this Guilty Gear (like in Guilty Gear Isuka on PS2). It's a two-step process of unlocking the special moves by getting high scores in the mini-games and assigning them in the customization mode. Then, you can battle your Robo-Ky against others, not unlike a well-groomed Pokémon.
Story mode takes your chosen character through a number of four-way battles with some improbable, and well, bad setup dialogue. If you're after more details on Guilty Gear's storyline, you really won't glean anything new here. May is still allergic to bald people and I think a gay joke is made at Anji's expense. The character art you get at the end make it sort of worthwhile, though.
In keeping with Guilty Gear's fine tradition of unbelievably silly bosses, I'm pleased to announce that Gig is a large, bug-like thing reminiscent of similar nonsense bosses that you may have seen in some Final Fantasy games. It looks like a giant bug with an angel sticking out of its butt. Pretty awesome, but I think I liked the hentai superstar or the giant dog robot thing better.
The biggest drawback to the game is a lack of single-cartridge multiplayer. That would probably be pretty close to impossible to include though, considering the large amount of sprite animation that would need to be downloaded to each DS, but playing this game single-player really won't be entertaining for that long, either. If your DS buddies are getting it, you should get it too. If not, you might want to pass, at least until the game goes cheap.