Advance Guardian Heroes Review

Advance Guardian Heroes (AGH) is based on Guardian Heroes, a cult favorite on the short-lived Sega Saturn system. There canít be that many of you out there who: A) owned a Saturn, B) played Guardian Heroes on said Saturn, and C) now own a GameBoy Advance, so most of you are probably wondering what the game is all about. The answer is that I have no idea. OK, it is a brawling fighter with some RPG and platform elements thrown in, but thatís about all I could figure out Ö and Iíve played the game. AGH has one of the most incomprehensible stories to be found in a game to date. Whether it can be chalked up to major cultural differences or butchered translation work or both, the net effect is that you need to run around beating the snot out of whoever shows up on your screen and the game will let you know when youíve won.

Now all of this is quite forgivable as long as the game delivers in the gameplay department. However, this is a questionable point with AGH. First off, the game is very challenging. So challenging in fact that it will put off most gamers out there right off the bat, forcing them to quit the game early on in frustration and rush to their local used game outlet to trade it in for something else. You know youíre in trouble when youíll have difficulty making it through the tutorial. Yes, the tutorial. Nothing can dampen your enthusiasm for a game more than having your butt continually kicked in the tutorial.

Letís say that you make it past the tutorial Ė or just throw in the towel and skip it Ė the firs thing youíll need to do is to select a character for the game. There are three to choose from and other than a few of their vital stats being different and their having different names and different colored hair itís not really obvious what the difference is between them. It turns out that they each have their own set of spell attacks, but at this point you may as well just pick your favorite color and go with it.

Once the game begins youíll pretty much be spending a lot of your time fighting. You have a normal and strong attack and a few special attacks, all of which can be strung together into combos. You also have the aforementioned magical attacks which rely on a power meter to be cast. Lastly thereís the block, which if timed correctly will turn an enemyís attack back on him. The block is basically the most important move you have as the farther you advance in the game the more of a necessity it becomes. If you canít block, you canít win. Period.

The fighting can be fun at times, but it suffers from two major detractors: difficulty and slowdown. Your opponents in AGH tend to be pretty darn fast right from the get go, so thereís no adjustment period or chance to get your feet wet in the story mode. Furthermore, theyíll lay into you with one attack after another that will stun you and throw you backwards in a slow, flopping animation. Before you can regain control of your character and make an attack or block attempt, youíre hit again and sent backwards yet again. Until you get the hang of the fight system, youíll spend a lot of frustrating time just watching your character getting his butt handed to him on a silver platter and you wonít be able to do anything about it. Note to AGHís developers: 90% of gamers do not find this to be a fun experience and wonít even bother trying to work their way past it. It gets worse when youíre attacked by multiple enemies. Not only do you have to fend off attacks from multiple directions, you need to contend with some serious slowdown issues. Those blocks that need to be timed just right? Try pulling them off when your GBA is barely responding.

Defeating enemies causes them to drop crystals. This is where the gameís RPG element comes into play. At periodic points youíll be able to trade in the crystals to improve your characterís statistics.

In a weird and sadistic touch, AGH periodically throws in a platform jumping level. In these levels you need to double-tap the directional pad to jump from one platform to another. Itís not only an odd inclusion it doesnít seem to work quite right. Difficult? Yes. Fun? No. Whatís the point? I donít knowÖ

If youíre a complete Guardian Heroes fanatic, I suppose youíll like this game. If you consider yourself among the fighting game elite and are looking for a new challenge, you may want to check out AGH. Everyone else, save yourself the frustration and donít bother.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 50%.  Bizarre, frustrating, and overly difficult. Everything you look for in a game, right?


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