Treasure is responsible for some of the greatest genre-defining [insert-type-here]’em-up games I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Radiant Silvergun was sublime. Ikaruga was a sweet, hellish nightmare…in a fantastic way. Before both of those classics became the classics they are, however, there was Guardian Heroes on the SEGA Saturn. Easily the most fun I had on a Saturn, and one of the best beat’em-ups I can recall playing in general, it has made its way to XBLA with some extra weight.
Most classic games that get re-released onto XBLA and PSN don’t really get much of an overhaul. You generally find that you get the same game, with potentially improved graphics and sound, but there’s rarely hope for anything beyond that. Guardian Heroes has raised the bar, and its a bar I hope future re-releases aim for. Aside from providing the classic graphics, you are treated to an entirely new graphical overhaul that almost looks like an animation done with colored pencils, lending the characters a great deal of vibrancy and energy. In addition to the graphical options, a new game mode, an expanded game mode, and an online enabled game mode are also included.
The story mode now includes drop-in/drop-out multiplayer. Now, either with a local or online friend, you can make your way through the seven different paths the game can take. With choices made at certain points in the game, the player actually controls the direction of the story. Due to this interactive storytelling, there are seven different possible endings, providing a great deal of replay value on the fairly short story mode. Playing through the story also uncovers other features that are not commonly found in video games at all. As your enemies fight you, they increase in level just as you do. This goes for grunt soldiers all the way up to bosses, which provides a dynamic battle every time. The game also features three depth-levels to the environment: background, midground, and foreground. Switching between the three is handled with the left trigger and left bumper, and can be vital in avoiding devastating attacks and planning assaults.
Versus mode is no longer restricted to six local players, but is expanded to up to 12 simultaneous players online (four of which can be local). Versus can be done in teams or as a battle royale with any unlocked character. In Versus, however, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t unlocked major characters. Your available roster is based on the highest level of unlocked characters available from the Versus participants. You can search lobbies to find either lower population battles or higher population battles. If a battle is in progress when you enter a lobby, you simply sit and wait for a victor to emerge.
Arcade mode is entirely new to Guardian Heroes for the XBLA re-release. It is incredibly entertaining, and would validate the decision to re-release the game even without all of the other changes and additions that the XBLA version offers. Arcade mode allows you to pick any unlocked character and place them in an infinite gauntlet of enemies, ranging from normal grunts to ogres and more. The number of enemies you manage to destroy before you die is your leaderboards score.
Guardian Heroes is everything it ever was, and so much more. This is how a classic game re-release should be handled. If you enjoy FUN, then you will enjoy Guardian Heroes.
|Drop-in/out Story mode|
12 player versus mode
New Arcade mode
|Story mode drop-in restarts the chapter|