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The Lord's Cherub: A Look at Bridget in Guilty Gear -Strive-

The Lord's Cherub: A Look at Bridget in Guilty Gear -Strive- - Article

by Issa Maki , posted on 12 August 2022 / 1,663 Views

With one million copies shipped, a year of dedicated support, and headlining EVO twice, Guilty Gear is currently soaring at heights the series has never seen before. But by this time next year, it'll be shot down by Street Fighter VI and the neglectful media, despite carrying a tired FGC on its back through one of its weakest eras. Yet like The Ark of the Covenant, Guilty Gear's fanbase will continue to carry its legacy, offering sacrifices whose aromas please the burning bush. On August 8th ArcSys spoke, and from the heavens rained the child of destiny: loveable, relentless bundle of confusing joy, Bridget.

A tragic example of child abuse, Bridget was shunned for being born a male. Forced by his superstitious parents into adopting the mannerisms, habits, and clothing of the opposite sex, the exiled Bridget's only desire is to change his society's beliefs, so that a similar situation doesn't happen to anyone else. Of course, this was decades before becoming an unwitting champion of a community lacking the proper context to truly appreciate the character. As a result, the Bridget of today has abandoned all pretenses about being recognized as a man (despite formerly being adamant about it) and accepts being called 'cowgirl' by Goldlewis Dickinson, because now, that's who she is. If this passes as 'ordinary' for you in any respect, I fear your interpretation of 'Leda and The Swan'.

Still rocking the nun's habit and handcuff around her waist (once symbolic of being a prisoner), Bridget's transition to Strive has carried over with her gameplan surprisingly intact. Though she's lost her Roger summons and yo-yo setups off of basic attacks, Bridget's aerial capabilities and potential for causing mayhem are just as efficient as they were in XX; it's not the absolute chaos from 2006, but in a more down-to-earth fighter like Strive (at least by Guilty Gear standards), a little variety can go a long way.

Compared to Baiken or Testament, old-school Bridget players can jump right into the fray; her classic normals even have similar gatling routes. What's different lacks the technical nuance of yesterday, traded in for a more utilitarian approach. As a result, Bridget adds more zoning to her neutral game, creating a hybrid of Axl Low's keepaway tactics and Millia Rage's rush-down vortex. With the standard double-jump and airdashes, Bridget's general moveset is simple, but effective. And for what it's worth, she still has the most adorable backwards walking animation in the history of video games – even if it's no longer a commentary on her acting skills.

Stop and Dash remains the cornerstone of Bridget's foundation; with three different angles of approach/return, Bridget tosses her yo-yo either at or through the opponent, serving dual-roles as both a projectile and ambiguous mix-up tool. As it's visually impossible to tell the difference between them (until it's too late), only Bridget truly knows if she's trying to keep you away or drawing you into a trap. Only one yo-yo can be on-screen at a time, so make sure you know which one it is and where it's going, because this is vital to Bridget's strategy. Not too many characters can combo off a throw without Roman Canceling, and who knows what we'll see down the road.

Rolling Movement shoots Bridget in the direction of the yo-yo established by Stop and Dash, attacking the enemy if she connects. Not only can the timing of the roll be delayed, Bridget is able to cancel out of it into every option available (dashes, normals, specials, etc.) after startup. This gives her an unprecedented amount of aerial dominance, even outclassing high-flyers like Millia Rage and I-NO. Rolling Movement is Bridget's big fundamental; mastery of this is what's going to notch victories under her handcuff.

Starship is an anti-air deterrent and easily a contender for best 'dragon-punch' in the game. With a fast, invulnerable startup, anybody near Bridget will be propelled across the arena. As a Nagoriyuki main (one of the weaker characters on defense), I've been longing for a move like this since June 2021. Multiple hits lead to easy Roman Cancel conversions, while the yo-yo from Stop and Dash lends itself to extended (and impractical) combo situations. Just make sure it connects, because if it doesn't, Bridget will easily lose 35-50% of her life.

Kick Start My Heart sends Bridget skating on her yo-yo's towards her foe, damaging them on contact. The movement speed of Kick Start My Heart can be tweaked, but more important are its follow-ups: Brake stops Bridget in her tracks, canceling the move and making it relatively safe on block. Shoot has Bridget fly into the air, with limbs and yo-yo's flailing. Though fun to use (and say), Kick Start My Heart requires discipline to use efficiently – and my knuckles have already been rapped by the ruler.

Roger Dive pauses Bridget mid-jump momentarily, before propelling her towards the ground, teddy in hand. This alters your trajectory, and along with Rolling Movement, is meant to always keep the opponent guessing. As if Bridget's air-game wasn't already threatening enough, Roger Dive is not just a confusing kill-switch, but becomes another mix-up tool when used with Stop and Dash.

Rock the Baby is a command grab that can be used anywhere on-screen, adding another layer to the onion. The input can even be held in the air, turning it into the grounded variant. Command grabs are always great to have in a character's back pocket, and Bridget's is the most versatile of all. The hop at the start adds an impressive range to an already fast move.

For as exciting as everything else is, Bridget's Overdrives are pretty ho-hum. Loop the Loop is her most damaging attack, its only notable quality other than its speed. Return of the Killing Machine has Roger do his best Terminator 2: Judgment Day impression, before relentlessly tracking the adversary down. The quick recovery gives Bridget options to continue or relieve pressure, but its low damage makes it an expensive proposition. I also take umbrage with its 'half-circle back, forward' input; this is a 'quarter-circle forward twice' style of attack through-and-through. Unless I'm missing something (and it's secretly the best move in Strive), 'completely unnecessary' is the description we'll go with for now.

Right from the outset, Bridget's gameplan (while technical) is easy to understand; establish a mid-range presence until you've conditioned your foe enough to employ Stop and Dash. From there, close the gap and try and pinch them between the returning yo-yo and Bridget's high/low/throw pressure strings. There's a 'mind game' aspect in all this, as you're essentially forcing your opponent to react while pre-emptively anticipating their actions. To my knowledge, unblockable setups aren't prevalent in this iteration of Guilty Gear, but if they're possible then Bridget is in one of the strongest positions to make it happen. Her technical aspects will take weeks (if not months) to explore, and while speculation is a fool's game, I don't mind donning the jester's motley this time around.

If I had to take a guess, I would say that the largest obstacle facing Bridget is that her versatility belies a weakness to extremes. Bridget needs to be in control of the match's pace in order to win, but having a well-rounded skillset comes at the cost of not specializing in anything. In neutral, Bridget can outpoke most of the cast, which feels great – until Axl comes along and shows her how it's done. She has some of the strongest mix-up potential, but unlike Leo Whitefang, she has to spend time setting it up – Strive's most precious resource. There's also a damage concern, and although Bridget can put some sauce on her enchilada, these instances are sporadic and too infrequent to be consistently reliable. Compared to Nagoriyuki's simple conversions (that can end a match in 2-3 clean hits), Bridget constantly has to invest regardless of a payout. And finally, with low defense and G.U.T.Z. modifiers, our girl can't take a hit to save her life. The last combo I caught Bridget with was so hard (72% damage), I have to go to Confession this Sunday. I'm also having a hard time envisioning the matchup against Happy Chaos without having it end like James Caan in The Godfather; if yo-yo's can't beat the gun, it's back to the chain and sickles.

With this, Guilty Gear's prodigal daughter returns to deign us with her presence, and the fans couldn't be happier. Though it's hard to say who 'Bridget' might have been without outside intervention, on some level we're all okay with it, because we love her for who she is – but that's where my contentions lie. This is a victim of abuse, trying their hardest to make the best out of a situation they should have never been put into in the first place. Bridget is not something that should be celebrated recklessly. Bridget is amazing and the trans-community is full of beautiful people! But she didn't become an icon by choice; she has been molded into one, first by her fictional parents, then by those who didn't do their homework, and now by ArcSys itself as it backpedals furiously, trying to whitewash the character's disconcerting origins. Who she has become undoubtedly deserves praise, but it comes with the responsibility and maturity akin to a cautionary tale. Love Bridget with everything you can, but understand the significance of the circumstances that brought her here. The best way to honor Bridget's journey is by helping her continue it; how you do that is by firing up those gaming sticks, grabbing that Season 2 Pass, and beating cheeks to the nearest lobby.

Jesus said it best: “Let us not love in word; neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. That being said, let there be rock!”

And then there was Guilty Gear.

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