Guardian Heroes HD Preview - First Look

Guardian Heroes, Treasure's fan-favorite brawler for the Sega Saturn console, returns in HD.

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If you owned a Saturn back in 1996, odds are you have fond memories of Guardian Heroes, the excellent side-scrolling brawler with role-playing-game elements from beloved developer Treasure. Besides the simple fact that it was an absolutely stellar example of how traditional 2D side-scrollers could be enhanced with some new gameplay wrinkles and technology, it was a great showcase for the Saturn's 2D muscle. Fast-forward to 2011 where, 15 years later, the game still has a place in the hearts and minds of gamers, many of whom consider it one of the greatest games for Sega's console.

Guardian Heroes HD will bring back the hectic brawling action of the cult-classic Sega Saturn game.

The game's enduring popularity led to a portable sequel, Advance Guardian Heroes, for the Game Boy Advance and aimed to capture the magic of its console predecessor on Nintendo's handheld. Fans of the original game, a demanding bunch, have continued to ask for a console sequel to the Saturn game. While Sega and Treasure aren't delivering on that particular wish just yet, fans hoping for the chance to the play the classic game again without hauling out their Saturn consoles and dealing with standard-definition visuals are finally having their pleas answered later this year. On a recent trip to Japan, we had the chance to visit Treasure's office for the first look at Guardian Heroes HD, an upgrade of the original game for Xbox Live due later this year, which adds online play.

If you missed out on the original game, we'll offer you some essentials on the ambitious and surprisingly progressive action game of yesteryear. Guardian Heroes hit the Saturn in the US in January of 1996, eight months into the system's troubled life. At first blush, the game appeared to be just another side-scrolling brawler, but once you actually played it, you quickly found that there was a lot going on there that set it apart from other games. You played as one of five heroes--four that were initially selectable and one that you could unlock--who fought to save humanity from an evil wizard named Kanon. While this involved much mashing of buttons to fight off hordes of enemies, Guardian Heroes introduced some very cool RPG twists that put a fresh spin on the time-worn brawler formula.

Defeating enemies yielded experience that players could allocate to six different attributes to improve their combat skills. Combat took place across three planes--foreground, middleground, and background--which gave depth to the 2D action. Players were also able to give basic orders to an undead warrior non-player character that would assist in combat. One of the most intriguing gameplay mechanics in Guardian Heroes was the branching path system in the Story mode. While the notion of changing the way a game unfolds based on player choice is old hat these days, back in 1996, the ability to make choices that affected the levels and bosses you played, as well as dictated which ending you got when finishing the game, was an exciting addition to the genre that no one was really doing at the time. In addition, the game featured a Versus mode for up to six players on the same console, thanks to the almighty Saturn multi-tap. The simple mode let you use the main characters, as well as unlockable characters you encountered in the game, which included bosses and assorted monsters for a total of 45. The game found a loyal and rabid following that, unfortunately, didn't number high enough to garner it big sales.

Remember how crazy battle mode got with six players? Guardian Heroes HD will let you play with 12.

Despite the game's unspectacular sales, there's something to be said for a loyal and vocal fan base. Developer Treasure has been keenly aware of fan interest in the game throughout the years, and given the success of its previous digital releases, it opted to revisit Guardian Heroes. The team, with many of the original staff members that made the original, rebuilt the game to include higher-resolution visuals, as well as online compatibility with the Story and Versus modes. The team is also including a difficulty setting to allow players to have the classic experience offered by the original game or to try out a new, arranged mode that features some refinements to the game's AI.

We had the chance to visit Treasure to try a work-in-progress version of the game to see how it is coming together. The visuals were obviously our big point of interest, and we were mostly happy. Anyone who's played the original Saturn game knows that the game's massive, scaling sprites could become unattractively chunky at times. While Treasure hasn't done a total art overhaul on the visuals, the team has done some work to enhance the original graphics that's a mix of higher resolutions and an artsy, almost cel-shaded, layer. For purists who want their chunky classic graphics, it will be possible to toggle off the enhancements and use the original sprites. We tried out the totally insane battle mode that's been upgraded to support 12 players, human or AI. Even though the original battle mode often seemed like sheer madness, this is even crazier. The mix of small and massive characters, coupled with crazy visual effects is hectic.

Guardian Heroes HD is looking like a fun trip down memory lane that we're anxious to take. The game may not be a full-on HD revamp of the original, but being able to play the game without hauling out the old Saturn and the added online functionality make it appealing. Guardian Heroes HD is currently slated to be released on Xbox Live this summer. Look for more on the game in the weeks to come.

Discussion

65 comments
littlestreakier
littlestreakier

i literally just played this on my Saturn last week. So excited to see Treasure is FINALLY releasing it again. Fans still have to keep telling Treasure what they want. I know fans and Microsoft convinced them to bring back Radiant Silvergun as well as Guardian Heroes. Day one purchase for me!!!! :D

corgansmate
corgansmate

The civ kid and rabbit with maxed out stats were unstoppable in the original, can't wait for the multi player, six players was crazy twelve is going to be pure choas. This game can't come soon enough!

KoruKinshi
KoruKinshi

You want a PSN version? Get Panzer Bandit. Sony doesn't deserve this game, especially after the fact that it was THEIR hand which crushed the Dreamcast in America. They feared the Dreamcast, and so they paid retailers to not advertise it. As a general in Sega's army, I will lead the way to Sega's resurrection and to Sony's fiery demise.

Mattyrock
Mattyrock

Can't wait to play this and may get my brother to play co-op with me since I loved the this game back in the day.

R-i-c-h-a-r-d
R-i-c-h-a-r-d

This is my favourite game of all time. It's the main reason I still have a Saturn and still have an original copy of the game. I really hope this comes to the PSN too... or I may have to get an Xbox :D

JuanKing
JuanKing

i played this to death back in the day, absolutely loved it, deffo one of my fave games from yesteryear.

kejigoto
kejigoto

I can't freaking wait for this game to release! I absolutely loved this on the Saturn and it was like the only reason I wanted a Saturn. A friend of mine had it and we would play it constantly. Thank you SEGA!

ermack103
ermack103

Ok now Please, please, pleeaaaaseee bring out Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara for xbla! This is blasphemy if they don't!

imperial_agent
imperial_agent

I thought the original Saturn version with the pixeled bosses looked cool in it's own way.

dexter_graves
dexter_graves

My best friend and I spent dozens of hours with this game. It was an absolute blast. It had an unprecedented amount of different endings. It's replayability factory was rivaled only by Chrono Trigger. I can't wait to see its beautiful graphics upgraded to HD. This was a gorgeous game, the absolute cream of the crop of 2D pixels. I need to call my buddy Miguel. He'll be happy about this. This is a great title for Xbox Live.

KaBo0m
KaBo0m

Why are these kids who never owned a sega saturn thumbs downing me? The game DOES have some huge framerate issues lol at these kids

mrgames31
mrgames31

ha i have it awesome> i be getting it on xbla

TheMonSean
TheMonSean

Never underestimate the power of the rabbit!

GDCalibur
GDCalibur

This is a great piece of news right here. Was just thinking about this game not too long ago. There are definitely some great Sega Saturn classics that should be brought back to life.

edubb85
edubb85

Wow heard alot about this game. One of Treasure's best, cant wait to try it out.

Darth_Tigris
Darth_Tigris

One of my favorite parts of this game was the surprise in one of the paths. I don't wanna spoil it, but let's just say Treasure fans will squeal with delight. Hopefully people will give this oft missed game a try with this wider audience exposure. Just like Beyond Good and Evil, it deserves it.

LeviHarris
LeviHarris

Let's get Dragon Force and Shining Force 3 now! Oh, and if you could, Panzer Dragoon Saga? Thanks, guys.

blackace
blackace

As for Guardian Heroes, I've never even played this game. I've played and beaten Gunstar Heroes on the Genesis. I may have to pick this game up, as I love "Treasures" games.

El_Conrado
El_Conrado

Just one question: Why no 4 player co-op? The game already assumes the entire party of 5 moves together, and the only rason they didn't do it in the original was for hardware limitations, so they add 12 player versus, but not 4 player co-op...? Weird choice.

om3g4_prim3
om3g4_prim3

The Gods have Blessed thine Thumbs. Damn, I wish they would just make a totally new game tho :( guess Ill take what I can get.

KaBo0m
KaBo0m

FIX THE FRAMERATE!!!! this game is great but the framerate is hot GARBAGE

blackace
blackace

maskykun That game ROcks!! I hope it comes to PSN, because I'm not going to buy another 360. I already had 3 and the 3 of them RLODed. ***************************************************************** Buy!?!? Did someone forget about the warranty? With the first one I had, I swapped it out at Wal-Mart. The 2nd one I sent back to M$ for repair. It works great now. I bought a black 360 Slim 250GB because I wanted more memory and it was cheaper just to get the new system. You could have gotten all 3 of those 360 replaced for FREE.

majere613
majere613

This was the only game that ever made me want a Saturn. Great news to see it coming for the 360. I'd be even happier with a Ps3 version, but I'll put up with the 360 pad for this one if I have to :)

mideonnviscera
mideonnviscera

I said it in the announcement thread already but it's worth saying again. "F*CKING F*CK YEAH!!!"

maskykun
maskykun

That game ROcks!! I hope it comes to PSN, because I'm not going to buy another 360. I already had 3 and the 3 of them RLODed.

psuedospike
psuedospike

Awesome! With this and Bangai-O HD my Treasure thirst can finally be satisfied. Now just waiting on that Radient Silvergun HD remake!!

Dualmask
Dualmask

No PS3? This can't be! Guardian Heroes was my absolute favorite Sega Saturn game! You can't beat a game that had a SIX-player simultaneous versus mode (back when there were no online console games) and a lengthy multi-path main quest with five different endings. I wonder if the old debug code will still work... Damn. I may actually have to buy a 360 now. My friends and I have been wanting to play this again ever since our Saturns died.

Ovirew
Ovirew

Never heard of it, but then I never had a Saturn. Sounds like it could be fun though. I will try the demo.

lowkey254
lowkey254

Guardian Heroes was always fun. I'm glad to see this. I will be getting it day 1.

CashPrizes
CashPrizes

O, My, Gawd..... I love Guardian Heroes! One of my best friends owned the game when I was in Juinor High and we played the crap out of it, think we got all the endings. I continue to play My saturn off and on to this day and have tried several times to buy it from him but he refuses, even though his Saturn prolly hasnt been touched since 1999 or somthing. Now I don't need to continue offering $100 to him ! Love this game everyone should buy it day one, its amazing.

rasterror
rasterror

I still play this on my Saturn. Will get day one.

daniel13789
daniel13789

I own a 360 and... well... I'm a little upset. I honestly wish this was on both platforms. I don't see why the Sony peeps have to sit this one out.

HardBUCKSHOT
HardBUCKSHOT

i own the original on saturn and i will buy this when it comes out.

DennisWZH
DennisWZH

i wonder, did XBOX pay for these games. or do sega just want to piss sony off?

frazzle00
frazzle00

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

IceJester45
IceJester45

Bangai-O, Radiant Silvergun, and Guardian Heroes all in one year--and all in one place!

DrKill09
DrKill09

Also, these guys standards are way too high. Saturn games, even at the original res still look good on modern tv's. Whether it be on SSF, or an actual Saturn with S-Video. You morons were just fine with SD til a few years ago. I've been playing in HD on the pc since the 90's. So you REALLY don't have any room to talk. :roll:

goodemon
goodemon

@DrKill09 Right on brotha this game DESERVES to be on PSN, those guys give SEGA all the love, I'm all for a compilation of Saturn/Dreamcast on one blu-ray especially with Virtua Cop w move support and my personal Saturn fav--Fighting Vipers. It could be similar to Sonic's Ultimate Genesis collection complete with trophy support. OMG 3 dirty dwarves wow. Add me my PSN id is "Granola"

BigChucker
BigChucker

Wow Treasure so i gotta buy a 360 to play HD Gaurdian Heroes. you couldn't make this game multiplat? FAIL!!!!!

DrKill09
DrKill09

This game belongs on the ps3, not the 360. The 360 can't do six players on one console. :P Sega, listen to me, I want this, three dirty dwarves, virtua fighter 2, virtua cop 1 and 2, fighters megamix and shinobi x on the psn... well, once it's back up. :roll: Oh, and don't forget the panzer dragoon games.