Pre-E3 2011: Guardian Heroes – hands-on preview

We were starting to think Sega forgot about the Saturn with all its remakes and re-releases of Genesis and Dreamcast games. Some Gen-Xer at Sega must have at last reminded the execs there was a whole other system to reap profit from. Luckily, Saturn’s classic hack-n-slasher Guardian Heroes is finding an HD home on the XBLA later this year. Hipster snark aside, the fact that this updated version is being remade by original developer Treasure is a blessing to those of you fortunate enough to remember Heroes’ blistering combat. Those who didn’t experience the Saturn classic, well, your day in the sun is here.

The story is nothing to write home about; the titular Guardian Heroes – four unique warriors with different skill sets – must defend a legendary sword from hundreds of bad guys. But you’re playing a side-scrolling bash-em-up, so naturally the best defense is a good ass-kicking. We jumped into a level with a warrior who had the usual punch/kick melee attacks, in addition to a various ranged assaults from ninja stars. Additional, we were able to swap to different energy attacks by pressing B button. Switching on the fly between shooting fireballs and a stream of blue energy added the fun bit of strategy into this button-masher.

Above: The polished new look

Also, Treasure knew what was up with its leveling system back in 1996. You gain experience for everything you snuff. In between levels, you’re able to use earned skill points to level up traits like Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and the like. What’s cool is that you won’t immediately have access to all the levels as many sections end with you choosing where to go next. We were at a crossroads on how to enter a castle, when presented with the choice of either storming it head on or traipsing through the woods to find the back way in. We chose the back way (our favorite! Nyuck nyuck) and came face to face with a mini-boss of the burly type.

And with that much choice, comes with different endings that range in scope from saving a town to challenging cosmic deities. Pretty sweet stuff, and with a number of ways to play Heroes, you should get plenty of bang for your 800 MS funbucks ($10).

Above: The old graphics are still included

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the new graphics, which are… not good. We don’t want to take anything away from the hard-working folks at Treasure, but the new designs look like someone farted on a copy of Anime Studio. That said, the original sprites are available from the very start. Hurrah!

Guardian Heroes will be released on XBLA later this year.

May 19, 2011

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