Guardian Heroes HD Remix (XBox 360): A Classic Sega Saturn Beat-Em-Up Reborn!
Posted by Yogizilla on October 15, 2011
Looking for a Guardian Heroes co-op pard? Add Yogizilla on XBox LIVE! We can help each other out and squash tons of baddies together!! I’ll be removing some friends, especially those that think “Guardian Heroes is wack”. *wink*
When I saw Sega re-releasing classic games from the Dreamcast and Saturn eras, I got excited.. But I never expected Guardian Heroes to come back. After the initial announcement (and being teased by the undownloadable game in the marketplace), I waited patiently for Guardian Heroes HD to drop.
Guardian Heroes HD is now officially out on the XBox LIVE Marketplace – REJOICE!
Guardian Heroes For Newbies
If you’re new to the game, think of it as Castle Crashers with more epic battles, arena combat (hordes of enemies provided for your power leveling needs), deeper RPG elements, an insane combo system rivaling the Street Fighter and Marvel Vs. Capcom series, and multi-branching storylines. This game is multiplayer bliss, whether you play locally or online. What the game foregoes in terms of a deep story it makes up for with a fluid battle system, unlockable characters, and tons of replay value.
What makes Guardian Heroes special is gameplay, not story.. Though I find the story suitable for this type of game (it’s worth getting the seven different endings). When people ask what the game’s about, I ask them if they’re looking for a story or tons of fun. Guardian Heroes is in the latter camp.
I’d put this game ahead of the Streets of Rage, Gauntlet, and Golden Axe series (each of which I loved greatly – I particularly loved Guantlet IV on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive), mainly because there are so many more moves and combos to unleash, adding much more depth to go alongside the rich co-op gameplay and arcade feel. Guardian Heroes may appear to be a mere button masher but the battle system is quite refined. In the remix, they’ve added air dashes to make aerial assaults even easier to chain.
BTW, if you’re an old-school gamer, you may recognize the developers, Treasure, from games like Gunstar Heroes and YuYu Hakusho. I found this GameFAQs Guardian Heroes walkthrough by DKReaver extremely informative. Check it out. It relates to the Sega Saturn versions of the game from ’96 but still a great read and most of the info still applies to Guardian Heroes HD Remix!
Guardian Heroes Reeeemiiix
Some of the purists out there are complaining about the changes. A few moves have been altered slightly and the translation has been redone.. But the game is mostly in-tact, if not better (I could not put it down the moment I downloaded it). You can even choose to play the original or remix versions. Thus far, I really dig the remix though I miss some of the components from the original. In Guardian Heroes Remix, the character sprites have been given a sort of hand-drawn, comic-like finish and the stages plus HUD have been given a cleaner look. As far as gameplay is concerned, widescreen really allows you to get a feel for the epic battles.
A very welcomed addition to the HUD is the inclusion of enemy status bars, complete with HP and MP bars. This makes it easier to prepare for enemy spells and combos, along with other gameplay benefits.
The dialogue may be too cheesy or campy for some but I appreciate it. The game is more tongue-in-cheek than before and it’s quite entertaining, if you’re not going to be overly critical about it.. Unfortunately, some gaming snobs will continue to criticize this amazing game so take the negativity with a grain of salt (some people don’t know a good game if it bites them in the arse).
Honestly, I found that the demo does not do the game justice. I had friends play through the inn and give it up, which astounds me considering they like fighting games and beat-em-up RPGs like Mu Online and Diablo. *shrug* It would have helped to add some obligatory training and/or pop-up tips for the Guardian Heroes noobs.
Guardian Heroes was never a high-production-value game. The script and graphics are pleasing but not ground-breaking, even now after the remix and remastering. As for the core experience, the story can be completed in two hours if you skip sidequests and arenas (there’s three arenas with seemingly endless waves of enemies to battle).
I would not say the length of the game is a bad thing. With seven possible endings, it just means you can play the game more! And this is a worthwhile buy at roughly $10 USD (800 Microsoft Points). The gameplay here is superb and I have yet to find many games that capture my attention like Guardian Heroes!
It seems changes were made to stats and level caps. In the Remix, your MP taps out at 100 but quickly gets filled up as you do advanced multi-hit combos. This adds a layer of challenge as you can’t just avoid enemy attacks, wait for MP to recharge, and keep spamming spells. On the flip side, the bosses are not as tough (or rigged) in the remix as they are in the original version.
(NOTE: MP refills slowly unless you pump points into the MEN stat, apparently. It also seems MEN determines how much spells cost, which effectively renders the 100 MP cap complaint a moot point.)
I’ll make further observations regarding stats and some of the subtle (and not so subtle) changes in Guardian Heroes HD Remix…
Arcade mode has been added to Guardian Heroes HD, providing a more visceral, intense experience – it’s perfect for those that lack patience and just wanna battle! If you like survival modes like Gears’ Horde and Devil May Cry 4′s “challenge tower”, you should love this welcomed addition. I’ve tried a handful of heroes but one of my best characters is still Randy, though the Royal Knight and Mid (plant boss) are quite effective for my style of play, too. Good luck getting past the two-minute mark in Guardian Heroes Arcade! BTW, your scores go up on XBox LIVE leaderboards, which makes this mode all the more addicting!
I managed to break the five-minute mark with 500+ points/kills using Golden Proto and the Earth Spirit. Golden Proto has a move that makes him virtually indestructible but it can be hard to spam. Both of these boss characters do massive AoE damage, too!
Versus play allows up to 12 players engaged in combat simulatenously. It’s a great way to do some real training, though there is a formal Training mode too! While Castle Crashers has fun versus play, Guardian Heroes offers a more stylish battle flavor akin to fighting games like Marvel VS. Capcom and Street Fighter, as I mentioned before. Keeping the action on rails (three planes of battle) makes it easier to execute killer combos. Really, I’d like more games to follow this formula.. Wishful thinking there, I know!
Best of all, you can play the story alone or open it up to friends or the public. I love this because it was always hard to find friends to get a big game going. With online connectivity, Guardian Heroes HD keeps you buddied up! I have yet to play a four-player game in the Remix modes, though…
Of course, there’s the obligatory sound tester, complete with 23 music tracks and 248 sound samples, more or less. This is a nice little bonus, even if it may be merely considered extra junk. It’s particularly cool because the American Sega Saturn version of Guardian Heroes originally stripped this fun little feature.
There are tons more extras including an ending viewer, original opening movie clip, and art gallery – w00t!
Core Mechanics And My Favorite Hero, Randy The Green
The core mechanics in Guardian Heroes are more complex than one may expect. If you just mash buttons, you won’t get far in normal or hard difficulties. You also won’t get a full appreciation for the game. Learning the moves in your repertoire makes all the difference.
The new control scheme is slick and responsive. It feels a lot more intuitive than the original controls, which makes this replay really worth the 800 Microsoft Points. I found that chaining combos felt easier than before. Executing magic spells has been a delight!
Speaking of magic, Randy the Green is still my favorite character. He may be weak physically but his spells do some serious damage – and they’re great for crowd control! Some bosses and elites take minimal damage from melee attacks so magic is a must! Randy, the traditional nuking mage, is a close second to Ginjirou, the classic twitch-action ninja, when it comes to high-hit combos.
SIDEBAR: Samuel does some heavy damage and has great reach, thanks to his long broadsword. This comes in handy against enemies with pikes, big swords, and the like as their early strikes can stun or daze you, leading to quick deaths.
Guardian Heroes revolves around combos. High DPS is nice for clearing out enemies but the combos are what keep your MP filled when playing Guardian Heroes Remix. In the original, things work slightly different and the maximum MP increases as you invest some stat points. It’s something to keep in mind when figuring out your builds between stages.
Now let’s look at some of the ways to pwn this game.. Or try to! *wink*
Secrets And Strategies
According to DKReaver over at GameFAQs, there are secret areas in stages 3, 5, and 12. I’ve stumbled upon these by accident. To get to these hidden arenas, go to furthest plane (in the back) when you exit the stage (you should line up with some a wooden sign if you’re in the right place). These areas are challenging but can help you power level to better prepare for upcoming battles. There are roughly 30+ stages, though you can skip around depending on the story path you choose. The hardest path I believe is choosing to kill everyone, including two god-like races, the Skyborn and Earthblood.
On harder difficulties and story paths, you really want to reach level 35 or higher minimum (the game caps you at 200 so there’s plenty of growth there) or you’ll die a third of the game through.. Unless you’re really good! Guardian Heroes can be unforgiving so taking one hit can cost you a continue. Staying in motion is imperative so you’re not a sitting duck.
In the village arena (Stage 5), I grinded my way up to Level 125 and demolished the game thereof (though I still died a few times).. But that was on Easy difficulty. Normal is not as bad but some enemies can catch you with combos that will kill squishy heroes like Nicole/Nicore (the healer) and Randy (the mage).
The paths you choose in the Guardian Heroes story can make the game longer and harder.. Or quick and easy. Don’t expect amazing endings but you will be satisfied when you take on all evils and bring ultimate peace to this nameless kingdom.
Teamwork is a must. I find that combining Samuel Han (the tank) with Randy or Nicole works best. Ginjuro (the damage dealer) is a nimble damage dealer but is still rather squishy. Nicole (the white mage/cleric) is tricky to play but her healing and barrier abilities are almost necessary for Hard mode. This is a game that is meant to be played as a team, hence the original six-player format. Too bad most XBox LIVE players do not use headsets. It makes it hard to communicate during the heat of battle.
Sadly, it seems the Remix only supports two players and the unlocked warriors (other than Serena, who you get by beating the game on Normal) can only be used for the extra play modes. I have yet to confirm this but it’d be a shame if l can’t party up with three other players at least!
Beyond the secret areas, there are places like the inn (Awakening Stage) where you can linger about to fight more mobs. I recommend this to get some early levels in. If you go solo and get tons of hits in, this area is good to get you up to Level 8ish.
Air attacks are easier and more crucial now in Guardian Heroes Remix. With the new air dash, you can juggle enemies longer and take out stronger baddies before they get back on the ground. This is important because some enemies use magic, have AoE attacks, or block more on the ground.. Be sure to dispatch these foes first and foremost.
Don’t forget to use your Undead Hero well. Typically, squishy heroes should keep him on defense but some battles require the nameless hero NPC to be kept on aggressive attack to keep the elite enemies off-balance. Putting the pressure on stronger enemies is a must to prevent powerful attacks from coming your way.
Your undead hero has an Aggressive and Berserker battle mode. The latter causes him to do a huge AoE nuke which kills normal enemies and brings down tougher enemies to a few hits. Bosses are softened up to but can often block most of the damage. Be wary of friendly fire when making contact with enemies hit by this epic nuke.
It’s worth noting that in the original Guardian Heroes, juggling dead enemies gives you more experience and hit counters. In the remix, dead enemies are indicated clearly and seem to do nothing for you.. But it’s still strangely satisfying to juggle them about!
Perfecting Your Fighting Style
The maximum combo I’ve gotten lately is around 35 hits (with Randy the Green). When you’re being bombarded, it’s hard to get some high-hit chains going, unless you have some friends covering your back.
That said, old-school Street Fighter players may really get a feel for the game’s fighting system immediately. I think of Street Fighter Alpha’s and Marvel VS. Capcom air battles mixed with the simplicity and speed of Hyper Street Fighter II (yes, the hacked coin-op arcade machines rocked).
You can dizzy enemies by hitting them with stylish combos. I find that the basic light attack barrage (two or three hits) followed by a medium hit, “uppercut”/juggle attack, and/or air assault does this well. You can often bunch up enemies and three or four baddies up at once, making this a powerful combo.
As with virtually any fighting game, strong attacks typically knock enemies back so you want to have those at the end of combo chains. You can spam quite a few light attacks for easy hit counters so long as you don’t execute the obligatory “finisher”, then follow up as the situation dictates.
Note that many magic attacks (even ones that don’t use MP, like Randy’s fiery ground smash) are what can be called infectious. Freeze, electrocute, or burn an enemy and anyone near them, friend or foe, can be hit. This can break a combo chain up for you and your pards so leave the flash for crowd control and finishers when friendlies are clear of the AoE.
Each character, including the unlockable ones, has a distinct fighting style. What Randy lacks in damage he makes up for in combos. Ginjirou’s ninja speed makes him a beast with combos on the ground and in the air. Nicole (or Nicore in the Engrish version) is more about support but she can do her thang too. Samuel Han is very balanced but his specialty resides in melee combat. Han is not as squishy as the other heroes so he’s a good beginner character for most. Once you unlock Serena, you’ll find she’s a combination of Samuel Han and Randy the Green, and she’s not very squishy.
Let’s talk about Nicore. It turns out she is one of the most powerful characters in the game. Her barrier magic can push enemies against the edge of the screen for added damage. Her healing ability comes in handy too. I need to give her more of a try but Randy is just too much fun to play and he’s my hero of choice.
Samuel Han can get an awesome sword by killing a boss in the Ground of Sorrows Stage. The sword comes courtesy of another undead hero you get to battle. This sword rocks because it gives Sam a roughly 20% bonus to every stat (indicated by the blue stat points). Talk about a huge shot in the arm!
Now, if we’re talking combos, I’ve seen the highest hit counts with Ginjirou using his electric palm strike. At very close ranges, this can be an easy 100+ hits. This ninja is about speed and combos so Agility builds are best for him…
Don’t forget to check out each character’s repertoire to learn the basic moves.. Keep in mind that not every attack is listed, though!
Stat Distribution & Character Builds
There’s no loot or drops in Guardian Heroes so stat distribution is your only method for building up your characters. Stats are still elusive to me but here’s what I’ve found during gameplay…
- STR: Strength determines how much base damage melee attacks do. The added bonuses is knockback force. If you have more STR, you can interrupt and cancel enemy attacks.
- VIT: Increasing your vitality is not huge if you’re good at dodging and blocking but it’s still a good idea to put more points here, especially if your character is made for close quarters combat. Your health bar increases with each level but the VIT stat gives you a greater boost.
- INT: For stronger, more epic spells, this is where you want to pump your points in. The more INT you have, the greater the AoE and effectiveness of most spells become. Of course, some spells can be charged for greater effectiveness, assuming you don’t get hit.
- MEN: Mentality is one I haven’t figured out yet. Typically, this is for mana regeneration, which holds true here, but I’m still unsure if there is a magic resistance bonus. Still seems worthwhile for MP-heavy heroes.
- AGI: Agility works much like the Dexterity does in most RPG’s, sans the evasive bonus. The AGL stat improves movement and attack speed. It won’t help with charging up spells but it will help you execute and recover from moves faster so you’re less vulnerable. This one is a key stat for melee high-combo builds.
- LCK: The elusive Luck stat is awesome because it randomly grants you critical attacks and damage reductions. LCK is a versatile skill that can help Nicore and Randy in particular be less squishy and deal out more damage.
The right stats can make all the difference. LCK alone has saved my behind. With INT, I can destroy many baddies at once and survive longer. These are my stats of choice since I prefer playing caster types.
Sega, We Love You
While I miss Sega consoles, it’s great to see them focusing on publishing and development. They’ve been providing excellent fan service by releasing classic game collections and remixing cult favorites. Keep it up, Sega!
If you’re listening, please fix the co-op sync issues. Some online game sessions are almost unplayable, even with good pings. This can upset people. I’d also make friendly fire off by default for the newbies; otherwise, we have to stay in our own lanes and be extra careful. Just saying.
Now, I can hope and pray that Panzer Dragoon Saga and Dragon Force are re-made.. Then my life will be complete. Ill Bleed would be nice, too. I love me some Sega Saturn and Dreamcast classics!