Well i’m slightly late to the party with this review, but fuck it, you may not be interested in this game. And why should you be? Unless you ever played it on the Sega Saturn, originally released in 1996, you would have no idea that it’s one of the best 2D side scrolling beat-em-ups that’s ever been made. “It can’t be that good?” I hear you cry……well, you’re very wrong. Read on my friends.
Well, by my own admission it’s pretty complex. Basically, you and your team of rag-tag magicians, ninjas and sword slashers come across a magic sword. The local army turns up, telling you that they are coming to get this sword, so you kill them to death and make a run for it. Meeting in a graveyard after the battle, your team are ambushed yet again, but during the fight the mysterious sword is stuck by lightning and it floats over to a mound where a huge fuck-off skeleton warrior grabs the sword and proceeds to slaughter the enemies. Realising that this warrior with a lack of a pulse now obeys your commands, you head off to battle armies, monsters, demons and angels in a plot that’s so complex it almost doesnt matter!
What I liked:
Firstly, it’s brilliant. The game hasn’t really changed at all since the first incarnation on the Sega Saturn. Controls are simple, buttons for light and heavy attacks, dodging etc. Various combinations of button presses gives you differing combos, as well as combining the attack buttons with different directions on the controller. Collar buttons send you wizzing into the back/foregrounds, if you haven’t played the game before you can zip between three different planes in the environments, so if it’s getting too busy in the front just make yourself some space and fight in the background instead. The Golden Knight, the huge skeleton that claimed back his sword, follows you throught the game, and you can issue him with commands such as defend, follow and balls-out attack mode, and when he goes on a rampage it’s a thing of beauty. When his ultimate attack comes out, which essentially looks like the entire screen has just been nuked, it never fails to raise a smile. You can play the game in original or “remix” modes, the remix seeing a slight graphical update and some new moves added, such as air dashes and being able to recover in mid-air after an attack. The remix mode gives a new breath of life to people who have already played the Saturn game to death. There are multiple levels that you can take through the game. After a big fight you get to interact with the enemy, and the choice of what you say to them sees you taking different paths through the levels. Some of which can give you MASSIVE stat boosts, so multiple playthroughs of the game are essential. Online play is now added for the multiplayer modes, and the player count has been increased from the original game. That allowed you to have six player, now it’s boosted to a massive twelve player, which is a sight to behold. Arcade mode, which is basically a survival mode where you battle out against wave after wave of bad guys, is another new and very welcome addition.
What I loathed:
Hardly anything. I’m not too fussed on the new filter they have used for the characters in the game. It’s some sort of lined, cell-shaded type thing, and even though the backgrounds look like the bees knees, the characters have taken a hit somewhat. I’ll be the first to admit that when the game starts to get busy, it can just turn into a bit of a button basher. When magic attacks are flying around, the Golden warrior is going crazy and the screen is full of enemy robots, you tend to just slap the buttons as hard and fast as you can and hope for the best. There are multiple routes and levels you can go through, but if you decide to cane through the game you can see everything it has to offer in about a day. Not to say that there isn’t replay value however.
Guardian Heroes is an absolutely fantastic game. Treasure, the game developers, are MASTERS of anything 2D, and this game shows that to a tee. It’s still a gorgeous looking game, it plays as tight as an Emo kid’s trouser leg, multiple levels to choose from make it almost like a new game every time that you play, and it oozes character from every pore. At 800 msp, you would be a daft person indeed to turn this one down.
The score: 8/10
Guardian Heroes is available now on XBLA. Price 800 msp.