Guardian Heroes was one of the best Saturn games during its time. Developed by Treasure (the company who has brought us instant classics like Gunstar Heroes, Ikaruga, Gradius V, and most recently, Astro Boy: Omega Factor), Guardian Heroes included some stellar combat and nearly flawless gameplay. After almost ten years, a follow-up to the classic Saturn game has finally been released on Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance. The plot of Advance Guardian Heroes takes place in a futuristic, medieval time where there are demons that test your main character by toughening him up with tough foes only to get rid of him after taking out the guardians of the universe, the Guardian Heroes. It’s up to your character to use the power of the Guardians to vanquish the demons from the land in order restore peace to the world. Though the game’s plot is weak, the gameplay more than makes up for it. Using an interface similar to that of Final Fight and Streets of Rage, you’re put on a level that has you go from left to right or right to left. You also have a more 3D feel by having the option to move up or down to have a better angle of combat on your enemy. Some stages, however, just have you fighting on a stage while the background gives you the feeling that you’re moving forward or backward. A single stage has around seven levels or objectives, and the mission is practically just to kill everybody in sight. Advance Guardian Heroes has a nice tutorial mode in it as well. The game makes use of tight controls to make fighting simple to execute and often times, fun. Aside from using the directional pad to move your character freely on the screen, you can attack enemies by using the B button. Each character has around ten moves to use, each by pressing a different direction on the control pad while tapping the B button. The R button allows your character to block any incoming attacks. New to the series, is the counter attack. You can counter attack by tapping the R button at the exact moment an enemy touches you. Doing this will stun him for a few seconds allowing you to land a few melee shots on them. Also, when holding the block button, you can launch magic attacks by tapping the B button if your character can use magic. Caution should be made, though, as magic affects whatever you fired. For example, if you blast fire at a tree, the tree will just set on fire, burning your character if touched. On the main screen, aside from the character’s face or the power level, are three meters. The red meter represents your health. Not surprisingly, being hit will reduce your health. Below that, coded in blue, you have your defensive health. This meter decreases the more you block. To the right of both meters is the green meter—the magic meter. If your character has the ability to use magical attacks, the green meter will decrease as you perform the magic. As usual, awareness of your reflexes is the key factor in this Treasure game. Often times, you’ll have more than six enemies on the screen at a time, and if you land a strong hit on the enemy at the front, the minion can pounce the allies at the back. This is where the game becomes more of a button-masher. You can keep using the same moves to get rid of the enemies that surround you, and this repetitiveness can be hilarious at times—and you’ll never know when these enemies can stop gunning for you. Just to play with your mind, Treasure went ahead and put in enemies that are as high as your feet, making it terribly difficult to land a shot on any of them, and the best way to attack would be to just mindlessly mash B. If you can get around all that, you should be fine with the gameplay. The bosses in Advance Guardian Heroes are really difficult. In Normal mode, the bosses will just continue to attack, so blocking and counter attacking would be the main strategic preference. In the easy mode, the boss will just attack once in a while and roam around the screen. While in hard mode, the enemy will have different styles, often finding a pattern of blocking and attacking to defeat you. Magic won’t do much either, but the key to fighting the bosses in this game would be to just know where you are on the screen and to counter attack whenever possible. The game is short and can be beaten in less than a couple of hours. There are only six stages with about eight levels; that's about 48 places in But like all Treasure games, it doesn’t matter if you beat it. Do it again, and you get more. There are over 20 unlockable characters in the game, and to get them, you have to spend a given amount of crystals on them after beating the game. Another cool thing about the game takes place during death, and don’t worry about its difficulty, since everybody dies in the game. When you die, the demon will show up and give you a choice. You can simply withstand him and just get to the Game Over, or you can give your soul up for the invincible body. The invincible body is just as the title describes, invincible. You have unlimited magic power, strength, and blocking power, but this all lasts for only six minutes. After the time is up, it’s Game Over. If you’re not in the mood for all that, then you can fight a friend one-on-one in the Vs. Mode. Treasure makes use of some nice visuals in Advance Guardian Heroes; taking advantage of the handheld’s ability to overlap as many layers as possible on the screen. The sprites used are good, and the attacks look great. However, the game has a major problem with its speed. Like Astro Boy: Omega Factor, the game’s visuals will slow down when a lot of enemies appear on the screen (a lot of enemies will appear on the screen), and this can cause some major trouble with the controls, as you can’t execute the moves as fast as you press the buttons. The bottom line is that the graphics are well done, but they’re also very poorly executed. The sound in Advance Guardian Heroes clearly isn’t the game’s strong point. The sci-fi tunes during gameplay aren’t bad, but the game often recycles the sounds of many explosions and attacks in the game. It sounds fine alone, but you wouldn’t want to have headphones at full blast with the game. All in all, Advance Guardian Heroes is simply a sequel to a classic. Ubisoft made a good move trying to bring it back by publishing it for Treasure. But is it better? No. Is it memorable? No. The game is good, but so many little things prevent the game from achieving greatness. The ported dialog is horrible and the graphic slow down is so annoying that players can put it down anytime. It simply lacks polish. However, with so much depth, the patient gamer can discover its true greatness because the unlockables in the game are well worth it. It’s a lot more fun if you make use of its 2-player cooperative mode as well. Fans of the original Guardian Heroes should get this game because it’s worth playing, but don’t expect the greatness of the original—it’s far from perfect.
Advance Guardian Heroes was somewhat of a sticky subject when it launched. Having completed the game three times with two different characters, I can say that this game is worth my time and money. It's reminiscent of its... Read Full Review
[Excerpted from my review on Trigames.] Advance Guardian Heroes was somewhat of a sticky subject when it launched. Having completed the game three times with two different characters, I can say that this game is worth... Read Full Review