Review: Advance Guardian Heroes – GBA

 Advance Guardian Heroes brings back the original Saturn game’s style of gameplay, but its unbelievably irritating technical problems and underwhelming art style doesn’t bring back the magic fans might be expecting.

Graphics/Presentation: 5
When you first start up Advance Guardian Heroes, you can tell right away that this isn’t going to be as good as the Saturn original. The GBA game features tiny, awkward-looking characters that sport an almost comical lack of detail. If this were a first-generation Genesis title, maybe we’d give it a break. It’s about 15 years too late, though.

Definitely a downgrade from Treasure’s previous GBA hit, Astro Boy, AGH has choppy character animation and a weird art style. While the technical background stuff is cool to watch, it feeds the unbearable slowdown (which I’ll discuss more later).

Sound – 7
Slightly muffled in places, but overall it’s a good audio experience with decent music keeping the pace. Decent, but nothing exciting here, folks.

Story – 4
Considering the series is rooted in RPG elements, there isn’t much of a compelling story here — not to mention it is poorly localized.

Gameplay – 7
The Treasure style definitely comes through in the gameplay. The game is all about stringing combos together and sending enemies flying into other enemies for even more damage. It’s a very satisfying direction for the brawler genre, since it allows for creative flair. Players can choose many different ways of taking out the enemy. This combat gameplay does tend to get repetitive in places, which is why it’s a good thing that the game saves player’s progress after each key level battle.

 The thing that kills the gameplay the most is that Advance Guardian Heroes has a habit of slowing down during the action when the screen gets a little too cluttered. The slowdown is downright severe in this game, almost to the point where you wonder if the game’s defective. It absolutely ruins the timing necessary to pull off the integral counterattacks, so players are left hammering down on the block button hoping that a random button press will trigger it during the bogged-down action.

It does improve one problem the original Guardian Heroes had: while the original game only allowed you to stand on three planes and fight in a beat ’em up game, this game allows you to freely wander the field for the beat ’em up play. This is the game’s only improvement

One final complaint — The characters are almost completely exact clones of each other. Anything remotely resembling unique attacks have been stripped out of the game, and the only difference between each character are their magical attacks. Even these, for the most part, are duplicated across characters, with most of the available spells available to each character

Affordability: 5
Advance Guardian Heroes saw a pretty limited print run. Sega didn’t even publish the game, as expected (UbiSoft took it on), so that might have had something to do with it. Anyway, you won’t find it real cheap — it runs around the $17 mark.

Overall: 6
Not a title I would recommend. The only reason for buying it is for curiousity sake or as a collector’s item. Luckly, Treasure learned their lessons before they brought Gunstar Heroes to the GBA.

It’s a real shame that this version didn’t turn out well. Guardian Heroes is a franchise that really has a lot of potential on newer hardware. Maybe Treasure will bring it to a newer console where it can really show of it’s creativity.

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