Guardian Heroes (Sega Saturn)

by PaulEMoz

So here it is, my hundredth post in this blog. And to celebrate, I'm playing a game that most consider to be a classic. I'm not playing it because of that, though... I'm playing it because I absolutely love it!

I owned Guardian Heroes when it came out. I'm not sure how it sold... it seems to be a bit of a cult classic. And when you consider the fact that it sells for as much now as it did then... well, it mustn't have put up particularly big numbers. Then again, most of Treasure's games (for this is one) seem to be more in the realms of cult classics.

I got straight into Guardian Heroes when I first played it, and it took no time at all for the magic to work itself on me again this time around. It is, in essence, a scrolling beat-'em-up, but it's much deeper than probably anything that came before it.

Part of this depth can be attributed to its RPG-like elements. You'll gain experience points for everything you batter, and as you're almost constantly beseiged by large numbers of enemies, you'll likely be doing a lot of levelling up. It makes for a far more entertaining game than if it were purely done Double Dragon-style.

The Undead Hero gets to work. He's a bit like an attack dog. Only undead. And with a huge sword. And he can get by without a constant supply of Spillers Shapes.

Adding to the depth a bit more literally is the playfield. Naturally, you walk along a side-scrolling area in your quest, but the screen is split into three parallels. You can jump to any of these with a tap of the appropriate button, and this helps to make your fighting a bit more tactical. It's not exactly at the level where you'd start to call it a strategy game, but choosing when to hop to another level can either save your skin if you're in a tight spot, or work to your advantage against the enemy.

To make it even better, you play as part of a team of bad-ass characters, all of which have differing traits which serve to help the battle in different ways. None of your team is as impressive as the Undead Hero that bands with you, though... when he goes berserk, it's a sight to see!

Guardian Heroes is, quite simply, a whole load of fun to play. It might be a bit of a button-masher, like most beat-'em-ups, but it's always entertaining. And with branching pathways throughout the game, there's plenty of replay value. In fact, the only bad thing about playing this again is that I couldn't save my game! My Saturn's battery has been dead for quite a while. Anyone got a memory card they don't want?