Guardian Heroes Review

6.0 Overall Score

Written by on October 24, 2011 in

I think it’s important for people to know before delving into this review that I have never owned the Sega Saturn.  With that said, this review will be written without the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia you might come to expect from someone who would pick up this game.

I knew very little about what this game was supposed to be when I sat down to play it and after firing it up, I still couldn’t figure it out at first.  To boil it down to its simplest explanation, Guardian Heroes is a side-scrolling beat-em-up.  As I began to progress through the levels, figuring out the controls as I went, I had determined that it was not only a beat-em-up, but it was a darned hard beat-em-up.

I kept getting my pixelated butt handed to me over and over again.  The worst part of being terrible at this game was that I only had nine credits to complete the game in “Normal” mode and I had to slog through the whole thing from the beginning each time I was forced to restart.  I began to wonder if I hadn’t played this type of game for so long that I just wasn’t going to be able to hack it any more.

I went back to the main menu and I discovered that there was a tutorial and after working through it for a while I discovered a depth that wasn’t clear to me at first.  It was a brawler, make no mistake, but the combat was more Street Fighter than Streets of Rage. Essentially, through combinations of button presses, you were able to unleash moves that wouldn’t be out of place in any fighting game.

The frustration melted away when I attempted the Story Mode after completing my training and started decimating my enemies with each character’s unique moves and outrageous juggle combos.

The story itself is a convoluted mess that you have to read through text in lengthy cut scenes between and during stages.  Interestingly enough, throughout your journey you are confronted with different decision trees that determine the progress of the narrative.  While it was nice to have that kind of choice throughout the game, the absolutely awful story hampered any real enjoyment that I may have with these “Choose Your Own Adventure” sections as I truly couldn’t care less about the characters or their motivations.

Since the story didn’t hold my attention, it was up to the actual game mechanics to keep me engaged, and it did an admirable job.  When starting a new story, you get to choose from an initial group of four fighters, a strong warrior, a sorcerer , a healer, and (my personal favorite) the ninja.  Each character plays in a similar fashion, but the unique attributes allow for different strategies when dispatching enemies.  Between each stage, you are allowed to bump up your attributes using Level Up points that you earn through defeating the baddies or even destroying the occasional barrel or box.  Focusing on different components of your fighter, you can earn new magics or make your melee attacks more powerful.

The co-op included in the game recalls the days of an actual arcade, where people can drop in and out of your game via LIVE and assist in vanquishing evil.  The mechanic works very well and reminded me of my days playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or X-men in the arcade with strangers who have a common goal.  The only thing that may hamper the experience is how often I would lose my character in the insanity onscreen as the sprites would be pretty small when the scene pans back after getting knocked a mile back while explosions and magic flood the screen.

The same issue happens in the twelve player multiplayer battles in which you can select any of the characters you faced in the Story Mode.  While fun and blazingly fast, the mode is hampered by the same type of hiccups that online fighting games have been battling over the years.  There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a 30 plus hit combo, when suddenly your timing is thrown by the screen freezing while it syncs the action because someone’s ping level had changed.

The Arcade Mode is something that I’m likely going to be playing a lot more of.  There really isn’t anything to the Arcade Mode except that it pits you versus what seems like an impossible amount of adversaries at the same time.  The only goal in this mode is to just survive as long as you can and hope you make the leader board.

After spending time with Guardian Heroes, I definitely think that its worth the ten dollars that is being asked for it on the XBLA marketplace. The game has so many great features and mechanics that I’m surprised that more beat-em-ups haven’t stolen from it more.  I may have never owned a Saturn, but his game sincerely made me regret that decision.

A review code for Guardian Heroes was provided to TMG for the purpose of evaluation and review.


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Author: Wallace Phelps View all posts by

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