Has Treasure developed another high-octane beat-em up worthy of a sequel from the Sega Saturn game, or have the Heroes turned into zeroes?
Making such classic hits like Ikaruga, Gunstar Heroes, and the
recently released Astro Boy: Omega Factor, Treasure is widely known for unforgiving and nonstop action. It was Treasure’s idea to throw tons of enemies on screen at once resulting in high difficulty but very fun game play. Once Ubi Soft heard the news that Treasure was going to be releasing another action packed game so soon after releasing the critically acclaimed Astro Boy, they knew they would be sitting on a true gem. However, slack play control and strange dialog hinder the main game play in this sequel.
Advance Guardian Heroes can be summed up as a fast paced Double Dragon. The player takes control of a character and beat up wave after wave of enemies through punches, kicks, and other special attacks. After a level is complete, stat upgrades are passed out generating an RPG touch. If you played Astro Boy then you will know how combat takes place. The idea is to knock enemies into other enemies by pulling off easy buy yet powerful button combinations. This fighting mechanic is a great direction to take a brawler game because the
player has many options when taking out enemies. Repetitive boredom does not come as easy as it has for so many other beat’em up games.
Advance Guardian Heroes relies heavily on the use of counterattacking. Much like the Dash technique in Astro Boy, if the player does not learn how to use this move quickly, death will quickly ensue. At the exact moment before impact when an enemy attacks, the player must Block (tap and “R” button) to send the attacker into a stun. This is the proper time to unleash a ruthless combo on your enemy victim. While this mechanic works when fighting boss battles, it is more of a nuisance when fighting a half dozen enemies at once. It is better to just run away and launch missiles when fighting numerous attackers.
Yes, it is cool to fight tons of enemies simultaneously. But no, it is not cool when there is slow down. Since so many objects can be present on screen at one time, the game will sometimes slow down. Counterattacks and blocking can be very difficult to pull off at this time. Also, there is only one save slot. When you start the game, you can choose from few characters. Unfortunately, you must play until the game is completed (or delete the saved data) before you can switch to a new character. Because there are so many different characters, this game should have a minimum of three save slots.
The graphics in this game have a love/hate relationship. The backgrounds and environments are filled with cool effects, but the character models are just too lanky and disproportioned to my tastes. Many times the backgrounds will feature clever uses of multi-scaling and Mode 7 graphics. It is very cool to see these features displayed on the small GBA. However, the character models just do not seem to fit the idea of a hero. Heroes should be bold, big-shouldered, and noble
looking. These characters look like they came from the The Nightmare Before Christmas.
This game does have a story, but I am not sure what it is about. This is due to the fact that every conversation is written in broken English. I am not sure if this is a translation error from Japan or if this was done on purpose. When the main character converses with enemies, it is very difficult to understand what is trying to be said. This game’s text rivals Genesis’ Zero Wing (famous for the phrase “all your base are belong to us” ).
One other sub par game mechanics is the use of a double tapped “A” button. Throughout the game, the player must jump from platform to platform. Two great examples: when the player is falling with a group of rocks and flying with a pack of missiles. In order to get to the next platform, “A” must be double tapped. However, it never works correctly. The game magnetically jumps to the next platform for the player, but it often does not work at all, or you are sent to an unwanted ledge.
The game supports some lasting material in the multiplayer department. All these modes require a game pak for each player. A two player Co-Op mode is available when two players link up and up to four gamers can battle in battle mode; and when new characters are introduced in the main story mode part of the game, they are unlocked and playable in the multiplayer mode. The multiplayer is one of the biggest aspects of this game and should be fully utilized.
Advance Guardian Heroes is a fun game, but it is just way too marred by sloppy game play elements. The slow down problem, the wonky character models, and horrible text, and the double tapped “A” jump button feature need a complete reworking. However the emphasis on the multiplayer mode is something that should be encouraged in GBA games. With this game’s sloppy presentation, it pains me to say that this is a step backward in the evolutionary chain of Treasure, especially since it did such a great job with Astro Boy.