Guardian Heroes is a 2-D side scrolling beat-em-up for the Sega Saturn, developed by Treasure and released for the Saturn in 1996. The game was re-released as an XBLA title on October 12, 2011. The re-release features updated HD visuals.
Unlike many other side scrolling beat-em-ups (Final Fight, Double Dragon, Streets of Rage), Guardian Heroes features three 'layers' on the playfield that players can jump between using the shoulder buttons. While in one of these layers, the player is locked into it and can only move left or right along it. This allowed players the ability to utilize 2-D fighting game movements (for instance the infamous Street Fighter Fireball motion: down, down-forward, forward, attack) that opened up a larger library of moves over other games in the genre.
Guardian Heroes also features an RPG-like experience system. Players are rewarded for successful attacks with experience points, which in turn translate into higher levels and points to spend on stat increases at the end of each stage. Another important gameplay element is the undead hero, who joins the player early on in the story mode and essentially acts as a bodyguard whose behaviour can be controlled via a menu.
Guardian Heroes features 2 player co-operative play as well as a 6 player arena mode where players can select any character or enemy featured in the game, once unlocked in story mode.
A Sequel, Advance Guardian Heroes, was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004.
The Guardian Heroes are a group of adventurers whose acquirement of a certain mythical sword makes them targets of the royal knights. After being warned of an impending ambush by an enigmatic knight named Serena, and fending off the first attack by the kingdom's military, the Guardian Heroes next course of action is decided by the player through the game's branching routes system. While there a variety of paths to follow, they all eventually lead to Kanon, the sorceror who secretly controls the kingdom.
Kanon reveals some startling revelations about the history of their world, and once again the player must decide the Guardian Heroes' fate. Their choices eventually lead to either a confrontation with the Celestial beings who played a significant hand in human history, their Subteranean rivals, stopping the mechanical army created by Kanon, a surprise threat from a scheming opportunist or a last battle in the Heavens with a major rival.
An ex-knight, Han is the game's obligatory warrior character. Han carries a large sword and starts with the highest attack stat in the game. He can easily be levelled up into a physical killing machine, but initially suffers from low agility and can only use a single spell. Taking a certain path in story mode will earn Han a sword which gives him a huge stat boost.
Randy is an apprentice sorcerer who fights with a staff and travels with a rabbit named Nando, who fights alongside him. Randy has a wide range of spells at his disposal, but starts off with poor vitality. He has a few useful multi-hit attacks, however, and with a few stat increases he can easily hold his own in combat.
Ginjirou is a questing ninja searching for the sword Muramasa. With high agility and a good selection of thunder spells, his quick attacks and use of magic make pulling off combos very easy.
As the game's cleric, Nicole is physically weak, most of her attacks being virtually useless. She makes up for this by being the only character with a healing spell, and possesses a useful barrier spell which pushes back and damages enemies. Nicole is also unique in that she is the only character whose spell selection is dictated by her LUC stat.
A rebel knight, Serena is only playable once the story mode has been played through once. She starts off with completely even stats and no real strengths or weaknesses allowing for easy customisation, and possesses a wide range of attacks which can become quite powerful, along with a decent selection of ice magic.
- STR : Physical attack strength and knockback range.
- VIT : Total amount of HP.
- INT : Magical attack strength and size.
- MEN : Total Amount of MP and rate of recovery.
- AGL : Movement, physical attack and spellcasting speed.
- LUC : Modifies damage and defence, chance of random damage and defence bonuses. Also governs Nicole's spell selection.