Growing up, I was pretty spoiled with video games. I had both a PlayStation and the classic Nintendo 64, which meant I got to experience classics ranging from Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil. Though, while I was busy rolling around in my piles of discs and cartridges, I was aware of a gaping hole in my gaming life: The SEGA Saturn. In fact, I never had the chance to own any SEGAplatforms. And for that reason, I missed out on many golden games during my childhood. Among these games, Guardian Heroes might be my greatest sin for missing.
Originally developed by Treasure in 1996, Guardian Heroes is considered a classic by many, and it’s easy to see why. It utilized many types of gameplay styles that have evolved to give us the games we play today. Players can jump between three different lanes, fighting enemies in each one. In between each level, experience gained is used to expand on the powers each character has. These changes that Guardian Heroes brought to the table fifteen years ago are still used today.
Trying to explain the plot is like trying to explain why Nickleback is such a popular band, but I’ll try my best. A band of warriors finds a sword that harbors magical powers, only to find out that their kingdom is in danger and caught in the middle of a war between higher beings. It’s pretty nonsensical stuff, and it eventually fades into the background as players choose different paths throughout the game. At certain points, players will be given a choice for what to do next, and each choice leads to new levels that haven’t been seen before. It’s like playing through a “choose your own adventure” book and causes the replay value to absolutely soar. Chances are you’ll never play the same game twice without trying.
For example, my first time through the game, I ended up choosing to side with an angel, who then sent me to destroy a demon (who totally kicked my butt back and forth). The next time, however, you could end up siding with the demon instead. Or, you could end up ignoring both of them. You could kill peasants, you could save lives, you can do practically anything with the story. Jumping between the different playable chapters is ridiculously fun, and the difficulty ramps at an arcade pace, meaning that the end levels can be difficult but rewarding at the same time.
The characters that you can play as all have different attributes, mostly based around the classical ‘might and magic’ variety. The action on-screen is beautiful, as the HD port of this game was necessary to truly enjoy it in all of its glory. Beating up a multitude of baddies in a forest is fun, but once you bring in a friend, Guardian Heroes shines. As fun as the co-op is, the updated versus mode is absolute chaos, allowing twelve characters (updated from six) on the screen to duke it out. There’s also a new arcade mode that lets you try out your might against an infinite wave of enemies.
Throughout this port of Guardian Heroes, you have the option to play each mode in either its original form or the new remix mode, which features updated graphics and a few gameplay tweaks. The original mode will bring back memories to those lucky few who played Guardian Heroes when it was first released, and remix mode will create a few new ones for those new to the game. The new achievements aren’t anything particularly special, but it’s still fun to have something to work towards.
It’s not surprising that Guardian Heroes holds up so well in today’s world, as it was revolutionary to begin with. Nostalgic gamers will be pleased with this port, because even if they are not pleased with the remixed version, they still have the original to smother with their love. Any gamer looking to dive back into a classic game from the days of the SEGA Saturn won’t have to look any further, because Guardian Heroes is packed to the brim with tons of content which will bring a smile to their face.
Just because there’s a slew of amazing triple-A titles coming out soon, doesn’t mean that players should ignore this great port of a classic game. The fact that Guardian Heroes comes loaded with a huge amount of extras on top of an already amazing core game is enough to justify a purchase. Players who have yet to familiarize themselves with this classic have no reason to not do so now.
This review is based on a copy of the game which we received for review purposes.
Guardian Heroes returns with a brand new level of polish and reminds gamers why it became a classic in the first place.