Video Game: Guardian Heroes

Our heroes, rushing into battle.Who? 
A magically super-charged Beat 'em Up for the Sega Saturn by Treasure. A group of adventurers find a powerful magic sword, but unfortunately, so The Empire has been looking for that very weapon. A red-armored girl bursts into their room just as Imperial soldiers start streaming in. They fight their way out of the town to a nearby graveyard, only to be confronted by a robot. In the middle of a difficult fight, suddenly a massive armored skeleton, the sword's original owner, arises from his grave to claim it.

Guardian Heroes is, in a word, frantic. Lots of different characters, both allies and enemies, with nearly all of them available in the game's Versus Mode, with full six-player support. The gameplay is mostly two-dimensional, with the action spread across three planes, giving plenty of space for some massively large magic attacks. Of the heroes, each has a wide variety of attacks, plus magic spells which as their levels increase, gets bigger and more destructive. Through the game, you're followed by the aforementioned Undead Hero, who can be given different commands such as protecting you, staying his sword, attacking of his own initiative, or just going berserk and burning everything before obliterating whatever's left with a Sphere of Destruction. Depending on your choices during the course of the game, you could liberate the kingdom, storm the gates of Hell, storm the gates of Heaven, or face down a robotic army led by Golden Silver, the final boss of Gunstar Heroes.

A sequel, Advance Guardian Heroes was released, as the name suggests, on the Game Boy Advance, which ties the game even closer with Gunstar Heroes. In this game, the villains from the previous game have returned centuries later, ready to try again to take over the world. A young soldier allows himself to be possessed by the spirit that inhabited the Undead Hero to fight them again.

After roughly 15 years, Treasure announced in May 2011 that they would be re-releasing the original Guardian Heroes on Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade, as Guardian Heroes HD. As the name implies, the game was updated with HD graphics, new artwork, new A.I., re-designed gameplay mechanics, a re-translated script, new voice-acting, online co-op, and a new 12-player online mode, although the option to play it like the original Saturn version is also available. It arrived on October 12, 2011, and at the low price of $4.99.

For games with similar gameplay to Guardian Heroes, compare and contrast to Panzer Bandit, Code of Princess (a Spiritual Successor for the Nintendo 3DS), and Phantom Breaker's retro-styled brawler spin-off, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds.


This game contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Serena, a knight and a princess who's not only good with a sword and shield, but an adapt spellcaster with array of magic attacks at her disposal.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Golden Silver in Guardian Heroes.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Heaven in Advance Guardian Heroes, working for eons in order to create the Ultimate Warrior. Not that one, mind you.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The American cover replaces the original anime-esque artwork with a fantasy novel-esque illustration depicting Han fighting the Undead Hero (even though he's a good guy). The European cover kept the original art, but turned the cover into a complete sausagefest by having the heroines Serena and Nicole replaced with Zur the magician and Macho the beefcake (who aren't even main characters).
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A meta-example in the Xbox 360 version; scoring 360 points in the Arcade Mode nets you the Undead Hero's helmet. Unfortunately, the rest of the outfit (and other Guardian Heroes-themed outfits) has to be bought through the Avatar Store.
  • Badass: A vast number of the characters, but especially Han, Ginjirou, and Valgar.
  • BFS: They only reason the Cool Sword may not look too big is because the guys carrying it are huge, too.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Most of the script for Advance Guardian Heroes is like this, and in some spots (like the intro) it becomes a full-on Translation Train Wreck.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: The Story Mode of the first game allows two players to play through the adventure although the continues are shared among players.
  • Competitive Multiplayer: The first game's Versus Mode lets up to six players (or twelve in the HD version) to duke it out with any character they've unlocked through the Story Mode as a fighting game.
  • Counter Attack: In the original version of Guardian Heroes, if a player is being attacked from behind, pressing the Strong Attack will cause the player to counter from both sides. In the Remix Mode of the HD version, if players have at least 60 MP, they can blow away their attackers and other near-by enemies by pressing the Strong Attack while holding the Guard button. In Advance Guardian Heroes, blocking at the right time to stun and counter enemies is an important combat mechanic of the sequel. Its climax even revolves around it, with the hero reflecting a giant fireball the instant before it hits Earth.
  • Crutch Character: The original Guardian Heroes characters in the sequel, in an unusual example of this trope. Defeating one of them in battle allows you to borrow their power, which gives you massive stat boosts. If you still aren't leveling up your stats normally, though, it'll come back to bite you in the ass later, as you frequently lose those powers throughout the game (usually when you fight another one of the original party, as the party members you've already beaten come back out and fight against you again). And at the end of the game, the final boss permanently removes these powers one by one.
  • Competitive Balance:
  • Dark Is Not Evil / Light Is Not Good: Depending on what path you take.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: You can wreck inanimate objects like chairs and barrels, but doing so will lower your karma.
  • Difficulty Spike: Depending on the path you take, the later stages of the game can go from manageable to chaotically difficulty when you have six or more foes bum-rushing you.
  • Deal with the Devil: If you die in the sequel, an mysterious figure appears and offers you immortality in exchange for your soul. Agree, and you turn invincible for the next 6 minutes before you're killed, allowing you to power through to the next checkpoint. Using it at any point will automatically net you the bad ending, though.
  • Everything Is Better With Princesses: Lucia and Serena.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: The Undead Hero in the first game's Story Mode can get hit by enemies but he can't die since he's already dead. According the developers, the reason behind this gameplay design decision was to balance the difficulty as players could end up fighting against a huge number of enemies that would be impossible to deal with alone. Randy's familiar Nando is also immortal when players play as him in Story Mode.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Heaven's plan to make Ultimate Warriors worked a little too well, what with making the Undead Warrior a vessel strong enough to defeat Demon in Advance Guardian Heroes.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Zur in the re-translated script for the remake is all about this, with hilarious results.
  • Head Swap: Some of the enemies are head-swaps of other characters (including the heroes), but they do provide a good explanation for some of them.
    • Han is the former leader of the blue knights and the new leader, Gash Deadeye, used to be his second-in-command.
    • Katrina, the new leader of the red knights, was Serena's old rival when Serena was the leader.
    • Macho and Sambo, the leaders of the Godats thieves, are head-swaps of each other (except that Macho fights shirtless as well).
    • Manon F. Brown (Randy's mentor) trained under the same mentor as Kanon G. Grey.
    • The Undead Rogue is a head-swap of the Undead Hero except has an arm missing.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Valgar in the original game, depending on which route the player takes.
  • Hoistby His Own Petard: Heaven, and by extension, Demon in Advance Guardian Heroes. First was their plan to make Ultimate Warriors as servants— they never expected it to be strong enough to defeat them . Second, when the final boss tries destroying the Earth with a fireballit gets reflected back at him.
  • House Rules: The HD version gives players the option to create their own set of game rules and settings for a match. These options are but limited to: using the original or redesigned gameplay mechanics, minimum and maximum level cap, adjusting the damage scale from x0.5 to x10, altering a character's moveset, allowing or restricting characters from play, whether or not elemental properties should apply in matches, and much more.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Advance, if the player loses to the final boss the first time, Dylan will sacrifice himself to refill the player's health.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Many of the more powerful spells in the game.
  • Karma Meter: The game features one that decides whether or not you'll get the "light" or "dark" version of certain endings. Beating up bad guys, allowing fleeing enemies to escape, and not harming the civilians can increase your karma, while attacking bystanders, fleeing enemies, continuously attack a defeated enemy, and destroying inanimate objects (e.g. a barrel of produce, crates, a chandelier) will lower it.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: It's possible to continue attacking defeated enemies in the first game, and in the original Saturn version or the Original Mode in the XBLA version, gain EXP from it, but doing so will lower your karma.
  • Killer Rabbit: Randy's pet bunny, Nando. He can set himself on fire and hurl himself at enemies.
  • La Résistance: They need all the help they can get.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Randy's moveset can completely shut down almost every enemy in the game, in groups. Characters like Han are designed for single-opponent bashing.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are tons of NPCs in the game thanks to the branching mission structure, and everyone you interact with can be played with in the Versus Mode battle arena. Yes, even the villagers who die in one hit and have a two-frame Scratch Damage attack.
  • Luck Stat: Not only is Luck used instead of defense (the higher your luck, the less damage enemies will do), Nicole's randomized magic types are dependent on Luck; the higher the Luck, the bigger they will be. Not always a good thing.
    • Not only does it help reduce the damage taken, it can also give you random bursts of extra damage. It also increases the amount of EXP you earn.
  • Made In Country X: In the HD version, the Royal Mech will sometimes say this as its victory quote: "Why does it say 'Made in Taiwan' on my butt. *sigh*"
  • Multiple Endings: Thanks to the branching paths the first game offers, it has no less than five possible ending, with a few of that having a "light" or "dark' version depending on your karma meter.
  • Ninja: Ginjirou. He utilizes lightning-based ninjitsu attacks and agile maneuvers.
  • Nintendo Hard: Advance Guardian Heroes. You get only one life, unless you make a Deal with the Devil, and even in that case, you can only use it to preview some more of the stage for your next attempt before you die regardless, and using it even once leads to a Bad Ending. Thankfully, the game allows you to start over from your last checkpoint... with however much health you had when you reached said checkpoint.
    • The game has four difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Super Hard. Super Hard truly lives up to its name.
  • Non-Combat EXP: In the original Saturn version of the first game or the Original Mode in the HD version, using your character's spells, including the defensive ones, will give your character EXP.
  • Non-Player Character: Every single character in Story Mode (including neutral villagers) can be used in Versus Mode except for Princess Lucia, the King (Valgar and Lucia's father) and Manon F. Brown.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Fail to reflect the final boss' Desperation Attack in Advance Guardian Heroes and watch the Earth explode.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Zur, after he steals Valgar's magic and becomes Super Zur.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Undead Warrior, who fights on your side throughout the game.
  • Palette Swap: Most of the enemies in Story Mode. Specifically, Valgar adopts a white armor when he joins the Sky Spirits in one of the possible routes. In Versus Mode, everyone gets at least six (or twelve, in HD version) possible color schemes. When Mid (the giant monster plant in Stage 03) is defeated, his true form is revealed to be a palette swap of Randy's pet Nando.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: It turns out that the player character is this in Advance Guardian Heroes.
  • Playing Tennis with the Boss: The sequel is all about this. It's also a requirement for the final boss.
  • Psycho for Hire: Zur, so very, very much.
  • Road Cone, Third-Option Adaptation: The story in the sequel assumes an ending to the first adventure that could not have taken place in the actual game — but still significantly resembles one of the original endings, except for how it turned out.
  • Scratch Damage: Blocking against magic attacks in the original game will chip away your character's HP. In the HD version, there's an option for custom Versus Mode rules to enable chip damage for physical attacks as well.
  • Schizo Tech: You got your robots in my Medieval European Fantasy! You got your Medieval-European Fantasy in my robots!
  • Shout-Out: In the HD re-release of the game, Zur puts his own spin on the famous Sega Genesis commercial before fighting you in Stage 25.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Edward and Randy are named after Edward Randy, the main character from the Data East arcade platformer The Cliffhanger.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • In the GBA sequel, Serena became "Cerena."
    • The HD version featured a different translation, changing many character names. Samuel Han, for example, becomes Samwell Han, and Kanon G. Grey becomes Kanon The Grey.
  • Sphere of Destruction: As with the Kamehame Hadoken, many characters have a spell looking like a magical energy grenade for the smaller ones, to what the game itself describes as a "full-screen explosion".
  • Sissy Villain: Zur.
  • Taking You with Me: When Kanon's flying fortress in the sequel starts to crash with the player and Dylan inside it, Dylan invokes this trope. He then waits for you to leave and runs like hell.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The three main heroes in the GBA version are named after the elemental powers they use: Enn comes from En or fire, Hyu comes from Hyō or ice, and Ray comes from Rai or lightning.
    • The initials of the other main heroes in Advance Guardian Heroes (including those from the previous game) form the game's title: Admilla, Dylan, Valgar, Nicole, Cerena, Edo, Ginjiro and Han (Advance GH). Granted, Cerena was originally named "Serena" and Edo is actually Randy's pet possessing Randy's body, so they cheated a bit to make this work.
  • Updated Re-release: The HD version features (obviously) optional HD graphics, redrawn character artwork, new A.I., a re-translated script, new voice-overs, new sound effects, and online multi-player with an expanded 12-player Versus Mode. There's also the "Remix" mode of the game that changes quite a lot of how the game is played (you now have three attack buttons instead of two, normal attacks can be canceled with stronger attacks, MP is capped to 100, air-dashing is possible, etc.), although the ability to play the game with the original mechanics are still available in Original mode.
  • Wakeup Call Boss: Hope you make the right choice and don't end up battling Kanon after the first 3-4 stages, or you'll regret it. Hard.