Guardian Heroes Review
No need to dig out the old Sega Saturn.
In 1996 SEGA published Guardian Heroes available for the Sega Saturn, developed by Treasure Co. LTD and it has since become a cult classic. A genre hybrid between RPG and a Hack `n Slash style fighting game it was sure to appeal to a large number of gamers and it still does today. Now we get to enjoy GH as the fully re-mastered HD release that this game is absolutely deserving of.
The single player in Guardian Heroes is an intense experience that doesn`t let up for a second. You will have to button smash for your life if you want to survive. That being said, it’s not all about button smashing. You will have to pay close attention to which enemy you are fighting and which enemy you are facing. There is a lot going on during each second of gameplay. Characters basically move through the levels in a side scrolling sort of fashion; similar to the classic, Double Dragon. In Double Dragon you were able to walk your character to the forefront or the background of the level to fight different adversaries. In Guardian Heroes you have to hit a button to switch whichever area of the path you want to be in. There are three degrees to the path in every level; forefront, middle area, and background. For example, if you’re in the forefront and want to attack someone in the background, you have to hit the button twice (one click moves you to middle area and a second hit will move you further to the background area). Sound confusing? It’s not that bad at all, and it actually added a lot to the game play because with so many hordes of enemies to fight you really have to concentrate on where you are in relation to where you are being attacked from.
As mentioned above, Guardian Heroes has many features which also throw it into the RPG genre. Each time you hit an enemy you gain experience which can be distributed amongst your abilities (Strength, Agility, Luck, etc.) between levels. Also, at the end of each stage the player is presented with three choices to make which ultimately affect the story and how it progresses. This adds a lot to the overall experience as it makes the player want to replay it in order to see every possible ending. The choices you make during your game also affect the length your game will be. Some choices bypass entire sections of the story while others will make you play every single level. The story itself is your typical RPG concept of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, a land oppressed by a ruthless tyrant, but I won’t get into too much detail on the story; no one likes a spoiler.
This HD port offers some real eye candy. It has been reformatted for 16:9 aspect ratio and has updated its graphics for newer HD TVs. In each game mode you can choose between “original” or “remix” graphics which is a great feature as it allows you to really compare the changes made. If you play with the newly updated “remix” graphics it does change a few of the game controls but does not change any content in the story or throughout the levels. Your game will save after each level, the point at which you distribute your points to your abilities. However, the game will only save up until your current game is out of continues; then its game over, start from the beginning again. This is one feature that really makes the game competitive and would make it a blast online with friends. A new game mode has been added called “Arcade Mode” which is absolute mayhem. It is wave upon wave of hordes of enemies and you are forced to fight them with no place to hide. It’s like the Guardian Heroes version of Firefight, and like Firefight; it’s a lot of fun! I`ve played it a lot and the longest I’ve been able to survive is 37 seconds. I`m dead serious, 37 seconds and I’m still having fun with it.
This game is loaded with multiplayer and I for one love it. Team up with a friend to complete the “Story Mode” co-operatively or you can try your hand at “Versus”. In Versus you are basically pitted against another opponent, Street Fighter style! There are six different pre-set game modes to Versus but there is a rule editor so you can make any type of custom game you wish. Best of all, it supports up to 12 players at once. That’s sick! That is like the entire roster for the original Mortal Kombat all fighting at once, it doesn`t get any more intense than a 12 person battle royal! My only complaint with the multiplayer (don`t get me wrong, this game is still chock full of multiplayer) is the exclusion of “Arcade Mode.” I`d love to join up with at least one friend online and see if I could beat my personal best of 37 seconds…
All of the achievements in this game can be obtained by playing through the story. One achievement is to view every possible ending in the game which is great because it’s even more reason to play such a stellar classic again and again.
It doesn’t take long at all to see why Guardian Heroes is a cult classic in the gaming community and is still one of the most sought after titles on the Saturn. It added features that were new upon its release in 1996 and they still feel new today. The updated game modes and graphics are done perfectly, they compliment the classic feel so well while still keeping it up to date with today’s ever growing market. I`ve said it before and I will say it again; this is exactly what Xbox Live Arcade should be doing. Taking great classic titles and re-mastering them for a whole new audience to enjoy. This game is so full of content that it is easily worth 1200 Microsoft Points, the fact that it is only 800 makes it a must buy.