Review by Megnetto

"It's one big fighting frenzy!"

I got this game in 2002. I wonder why it took me so long to get this since it's released in 1996. Maybe it's because I didn't have the Sega Saturn back then, or when I saw it at a video store I didn't even rent it, much less buy it, because I was turned off by two things. The picture manual cover and thought to be cheap version of Street Fighter and platform games like Golden Axe. After getting a chance to read the reviews online, my curiosity got the best of me and bought it from Buy-Rite, of all places. Now I enjoy this just as much as X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM, if not more.

GUARDIAN HEROES has three modes in the game. Story mode has one or two players choose one of the 4 characters (5, after you beat the game in normal or hard settings), who are a rag-tag group of adventures. They find an enchanted sword, and a former knight Serena (the fifth character) warns them of an attack from the Royal Knights, who are also after the sword. They escaped and heads to a graveyard. From there, the sword resurrects a long dead warrior and you start choosing which path the adventures, having you face soldiers, robots and demons. Versus mode is up to 6 players can join in a battle royal. In teams or
single elimination, choosing 9 stages to fight in. There are more than 30 characters to choose after you go through 30 stages in Story Mode to get them. Option Mode has you setting the game parameters and seeing recorded data, including lists of characters' moves.

The graphics, though not as sharp as seen in NIGHT WARRIORS, they're a marvel to look at. It starts with a terrific amine intro then into the game where the background is colorful and detailed and the sprites are very animated. The characters are bit small, but detail. Only when the camera views zoom in closer would they appear blocky, but not an eye sore. The animation is fluidity with no frames missing. There is a bit of slowdown at times there are too many characters on the screen and when special effects are used.

There is a lot of sound effects. Nothing that stands out, but it really gets you in the game. No voices aside from the usual screams and grunts. The music, on the other hand, is terrific to listen to. A mixture classic, jazz and pop rock on certain themes. There are 23 tracks on the CD outside the game that you can listen on its own. Find out they are your liking. I only like 3 themes and the rest are okay.

The controls are responsive and great to get into. It plays similar to STREET FIGHTER II with a block button from MORTAL KOMBAT thrown in for good measure. They're simple to use. It has weak and strong attacks, combine those with the control moves to make special attacks. You can also do the same making magic attacks except using the z button. For beginners, you can just use the magic button without
combining control moves. The problem is it takes time to scroll through the list of magic attacks and in the heat of battle, you have to think and act quickly. There is also a button, in story mode, to command the undead hero. On the easy levels, you can order him to stand in the sidelines and fight alone. If you're low in health, set him to berserk and watch him wail!

Although it took a few ideas from other games, it has different elements that stands out on its own. Although its looks like a 2D side scrolling fighter, you notice that it has 3 plans to battle on, not one. It has fore, middle, and back grounds that your characters can jump to and fro by using the Y, L & R buttons. It's plays like a fighting game with special moves, but it has RPG elements in it. You have hit points and magic points with statistics to arrange included. You gain experience points by casting
spells, breaking items, hitting and killing your foes. The more points you get, the more levels you advance. The replay is high on this game as well. In Story Mode, you have different story lines depending on which plot branches you choose. There are 30 stages to go through and you won't see all of them playing the game only once. It also has multi player in versus mode which will create wild and crazy video game parties.

This game is great to have, but it has flaws that prevents from having a 10. First of all, it crams too many characters at once at times, overlapping your character when attacked. With that plus some objects in the way, it makes it hard to see what you are doing. Either you have to hold down the block button for dear life and hope for an opening or mash the buttons mindlessly to fight your way out. It's just as bad in the Versus Mode, which the vital stats displayed on the screen take up 1/3 of the view when
all six characters are fighting. When a character jumps high enough in the back ground, they're not in front of the stats, but behind it, blocking the view. The stats are written so small it's hard to read them. When playing in time limit battles, you can't tell who won at times from reading the stats.

There are two other faults I discovered playing this game. In Versus Mode, you can't choose certain characters together with others. In other words, if you choose, SWORD HAN, KANON, VALGAR, SUPER ZUR, G. SILVER and SKY SPIRIT, and press START, you'll get a response of ''Character overload!'' That means you either change one of characters or take one out. The second flaw is not all characters sounds appear when six are in Versus Mode. In some battles, NICOLE is noisy and in others, she is not.

At least, Treasure really put a lot of effort in this game and it shows. GUARDIAN HEROES is a fun game. People are now discovering this game years after Saturn's demise and quickly becoming their favorite. It has great story plots, good animation and a wicked game play. For group or solo players, this game has it all for everyone.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/14/03, Updated 06/14/03

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