I have some fond memories of the original Guardian Heroes as I played it way back in late 90’s over a friends house, recently with the rerelease of Guardian Heroes for the Xbox 360 I have been able to relive those great memories of a fantastic Beatem’ up’ RPG with many endings and so many paths that it would take many play-throughs to truly enjoy the game. For comparisons sake the closest game to Guardian Heroes is Golden Axe, but the similarities are entirely superficial as unlike Golden Axe Guardian Heroes has a riveting story that changes based on your actions (I’d say both are great in the fighting aspect though.) Seeing is believing I supposed so here’s some gameplay footage of the first stage:
Unlike Golden Axe or any other beatem’ up you may have noticed that the characters don’t move around a three dimensional plane with enemies coming at them from all directions, instead the characters jump through three zones (one in the foreground, one in the middle, and one in the back) this feature while at first seeming ridiculous makes perfect sense from a design standpoint as in Guardian Heroes there are stages where lots of enemies will come at you all at once and being able to quickly jump to another zone out of their range giving a moment to collect yourself before the enemies all hop over. This feature is even more helpful due to the sheer difficulty of the game as mastering hopping from one zone to the other can mean life or death at points.
Look at those generic soldiers, think their tough shit jumpin’ out of the way of my lightning.
It would be impossible for me to fully explain to you the sheer depth of the story of this game with it’s many plot twists, undead, demons, gods, murder, and vampire clowns, however I can tell you this, you can play as any character you defeat in versus mode (in the Xbox 360 version you can play online as well).
Oh yes, even bosses.
Now that you have some grasp of the basic premise of Guardian Heroes lets talk about its sequel Guardian Heroes Advance.
Guardian Heroes Advance takes things a little differently, it does away with the whole zone nonsense and allows you to move about a three dimensional plane, it also added a homing jump (a jump that automatically takes you to whatever the nearest platform is) and platforming elements to mix things up. It also did away the path choosing element of the previous game where you instead move along a linear path towards the ending of the game, luckily though there are two endings so it guarantee’s you at least two playthroughs. Not one of the things that makes up for it is how much depth they added to the combat system with the addition of a counter that can nullify damage and larger move pools for all characters.
Honestly what more could you want?
Of all the characters though the main three Enn, Ray, and who cares because they are all identical and their stats are the only major differences between them, have the largest move pools with different possible attack combos based on directional movements and how long you hold down the attack button. I personally like the addition of a ground pound attack that does area damage. Magic which in the previous game could only be executed by certain button combos (like a haduken) was a tad hard to pull off when a bunch of enemies were punching you in the face Advance fixes this problem by making it so that magic is charges and selected using the shoulder buttons making it a lot easier to pop-off magic spells when you need them.
The change was pretty shocking.
Now Guardian Heroes Advance follows the adventure of the Undead hero from the first game as he is revived by taking over the body of whichever generic main character you chose to start with. You are immediately tasked with saving the world from the Sky Kingdom as they hope to take over the world and create the “Ultimate Warrior”.
I honestly don’t know why though…
So you battle through stages fighting many enemies and eventually you wind up fighting the cast from the previous series who are apparently being controlled by the Sky Kingdom. You beat them and depending on certain conditions you get one of two endings after fighting the final boss. Now the real fun of this game comes after you have beaten it. Remember how earlier I said that in Guardian Heroes you could play as any character in versus mode? Well in Guardian Heroes Advance you can play as ANY character in both versus mode and story mode. So long after you’ve seen the ending of the games you can go back and decide to play as the best mage in the game and just spam uber-spells murdering all of the things.
The didn’t know what hit them.
I haven’t really touched on what versus mode is yet have I? Well in both games it is a feature in which up to twelve characters (be they human or CPU) can all duke it out. This means that you can either have twelve of the baddest bosses pounding on each other of just one tackling a whole bunch of the weakest enemies and utterly destroying them (or losing somehow [it happens oddly enough]). In versus mode you get to assign stats to each character based on the level cap you have chosen and they can either be preset stat distributions or you can set them however you want, this can amount to hours of amusement.
Dance my puppets, DANCE!
I found that Guardian Heroes Advance doesn’t easily appeal to many people due to the fact that a majority of the mythos of the game is lost upon a person who hasn’t played the first game. Guardian Heroes Advance is a must have for anyone who liked the first game and for anyone who is a diehard fan of Beatem’ Ups. The game has memorable characters and a decent soundtrack, the graphics are alright for a Gameboy Advance game, the controls are amazing, and you can play as any character in the game after you’ve killed them. Seriously, what isn’t there to love? To add even more incentive the game is fairly inexpensive. So why not pick a copy now? You can also grab a copy of the original game off the Xbox Live Arcade for 800 MS points if you don’t have a Sega Saturn.