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Guardian Heroes Review

Review; Dec. 2, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
One of the greatest and most overlooked beat-'em-ups returns in fine form

I've played many, many beat-'em-ups during my life. All the Final Fights, Streets of Rage and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I could get my hands on. This was before the days of online co-op, achievements, or DLC. It was pure and simple you versus them. Pummel your enemies all the way until the end. It was mindless, simple entertainment that, while light on strategy, was heavy on fun.

Guardian Heroes

Guardian Heroes changed beat-'em-ups forever. It introduced innovations that, at the time, were unheard of for this genre and set a standard that all future titles would be judged by (sadly, not for long, as the genre all but dried up a few years later).

Heroes took the straight forward beat-'em-up and added multiple playable characters, large colorful enemies, a fighting system that mimicked juggle-based fighting games' mechanics and alternate endings and pathways that changed based on the decisions you made and the characters you talked to. On top of that, support for up to eight players was offered in a time when having only two players was considered the norm.

The recent re-release of Guardian Heroes on Xbox Live Arcade brings all of those features and includes a slew of new ones that not only work well with the existing game mechanics but also make the game even more fun to play alone or with friends.

Guardian Heroes Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

This newest version comes with two ways to play: the original mode or the new remix mode. The original mode features the original sprites of the Sega Saturn version along with the original character designs and animations. Admittedly, this mode is entirely functional, but due to its lower resolution, looks pixelated and ugly on an HD TV. The remix mode takes the same graphics from the original and adds a cell shaded-like layer over the characters. It gives a storybook appearance to each character that matches the environments of the game (it is a sword and sorcery themed beat-'em-up, after all) and also offers a new level of difficulty called "remix" that scales the hit boxes and areas of attacks according to the newer graphics.

The original had a selection of evasive moves at your disposal for avoiding attacks and enemies. The remix version has new evasive moves such as air dashing and air recovery that extend your evasive options into the air along with your ground options. This changes gameplay significantly, as now dodging from the air can lead to bigger attack combos. It's a fine example of the care and attention to detail put into the game.

In addition to the single-player story mode, multiplayer has also been enhanced and expanded. Besides supporting online play through Xbox Live, Guardian Heroes allows other players to fight one another over XBLA. It's not Street Fighter or BlazBlue, but it's a fun distraction that allows fans and admirers of the game even more ways to play. Unlike the original, the HD version allows up to 12 players instead of the original's 6 and also features a survival gauntlet that pits players against unlimited enemies as they fight wave after wave in order to survive and earn a higher score. 

I cannot recommend this game enough. For fans of beat-'em-ups, slick looking 2-D side scrollers, or the original, there is enough new and classic content to keep everyone busy and satisfied. Guardian Heroes is a game from yesterday that has aged incredibly well and still stands the test of time as one of the best beat-'em-ups ever. Xbox 360 owners, do not miss the chance to play this game.

*Editor's Note: OMGN received a free review copy of the game for this article.

Comments

Review Score
9.3

Teen

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

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