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Video Game: Guardian Heroes
Our heroes, rushing into battle.Who? 
A magically-supercharged 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. No, really. 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 playable 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 for some lame reason they replaced the heroines Serena and Nicole with Zur the magician and Macho the beefcake (who aren't even main characters), turning the cover into a sausage fest.
  • 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.
  • 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:
  • Counter Attack: 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.
  • Dark Is Not Evil / Light Is Not Good: Depending on what path you take.
  • 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.
  • 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 retranslated 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.
    • There's an one-armed skeleton knight who is a head-swap of the Undead Hero.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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-fram 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.
  • Multiple Endings
  • Ninja: Ginjirou. Also quite the Game Breaker.
  • 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-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 the Earth explodes.
  • 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 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 what defeats the final boss, in fact.
  • 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.
  • 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 version, 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, and online multiplayer 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.

GradiusCreator/TreasureGunstar Heroes
Gotham City ImpostorsXbox LIVE ArcadeGuilty Gear
GuardiansBeat 'em UpKarateka
Grim DawnAction RPG.hack
GrinsiaEastern RPGGuardian's Crusade
Power InstinctSega SaturnHercs Adventures
Flower, Sun and RainNo Dub for YouGuilty Gear

alternative title(s): Guardian Heroes
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