A Guard Impact is a defensive move available to every character (custom included). It is executed by quickly tapping the guard button and forward/backward on the joystick when an opponent's attack connects. Pushing forward on the joystick will result in a "counter", while pulling back will execute a "parry". Both have the same general effect: the opponent's attack is deflected and he suffers a significant loss in Soul Gauge, while the defender sustains no damage. A successful Guard Impact is indicated by a sharp clashing metal sound as well as a dazzling flash of colored light. During a counter, the light is green, and opponent stumbles backwards a bit while the defender automatically advances upon him/her (allowing for the quick execution of an attack). In this stumbling state, the opponent cannot attack or move, only perform another Guard Impact against the oncoming attack. During a parry, the opponent is thrown to the ground on the side of the player with blue flash of light. In general, counters are used when the player seeks an opening to attack, and parries are used when the player wants to retreat from the opponent.
While Low moves still hit when a regular Guard Impact is performed, there are also Low variations of both of the above (executed by aiming the joystick down and to the right or down and to the left) for countering or parrying those moves.
Special Guard Impacts
Some characters have moves which automatically function as a Guard Impact if he is struck during the execution for the attack. The character's weapon glows purple for a moment when one of these moves is executed. The Guard Impact occurs automatically if the opponent strikes the weapon when it is purple (which may only be for a fraction of a second). Some moves with Guard Impact effects feature extra attacks performed automatically only when the Guard Impact is successful (i.e. Raphael's 4A+B). Unlike other characters' Special Guard Impact, Tira will take damages from some of hers in Gloomy stance.
"Counter" Guard Impacts, if executed with precise timing, become Just Impacts (sometimes called Red Impacts). Just Impacts, which are extremely difficult to perform, deal significantly more damage to the opponent's Soul Gauge. The metal-on-metal sound is changed to a stronger screeching sound, and the flash of light is red instead of green. Also, unlike regular "counter" Guard Impacts, the opponent is entirely disabled after a Just Impact has been performed. A follow-up attack initiated after a Just Impact has been performed cannot be halted or guarded against by any means. If a "parry" Guard Impact is performed with the same precision, it remains a parry, and does not gain extra benefits or powers.
Just Impacts are nearly impossible to summon at will, and usually occur in a battle as a stroke of luck when one performs a Guard Impact.
Guard Impacts in Soulcalibur V
In Soulcalibur V, Guard Impacts can no longer be executed by pressing guard+direction but have a single input (4A+B+K). The properties have been changed so that Guard Impacts now repel high, mid, and low attacks and connect during a longer window of frames. Additionally, each Guard Impact drains 25% of Critical Gauge. However, it is no longer possible to parry attacks.
- Guard Impacts defend even against Unblockable attacks. Ideally, one who has mastered Guard Impacts could defend himself from every attack and not take damage, as well as (in Soulcalibur IV) do heavy damage to his opponent's Soul Gauge. In Soulcalibur V, Guard Impacts can no longer defend against Unblockable attacks.
- They are also the only maneuver capable of deflecting Algol's bubble projectiles, which, unlike other attacks, do not dissipate, but instead fly back at him (where he, using another Guard Impact, can bat them back at the opponent).
- Some weapon special abilities (in Soulcalibur IV only) have the effect of automatically (albeit rarely) performing a Guard Impact or Just Impact on an incoming attack.