Reviewed: October 12, 2004
Released: September 14, 2004
Owning Advance Guardian Heroes, if you’ve actually paid for it, is much like having a copy of Britney Spears’ first album lurking somewhere in your CD collection. Someday one of your friends will find it or catch you playing it, and then you have some explaining to do. Good luck with that, because from what I can piece together of the story is that those wacky angels up in heaven are at it again with their plans for world domination and creating the ultimate warrior. Your job, after they kill you and the “Soul of Warrior” (yes that is your name) inhabits your stinking corpse, is to stop them. Go figure.
As terrible as some aspects of this game are, for some reason it’s still addictive. Maybe it’s all of the engrish.
This game is perfect for honing your woefully inadequate skill at just smashing buttons and still somehow winning. Basic controls are block, jump, and attack. There are a few other things, like if you time a block right it will counter, and magic can be cast by hitting the attack button while blocking and that’s all you need to know. Also don’t worry if you don’t follow because the enemies are nice enough to tell you what you need to do to defeat them.
Essentially the game is built around your ability to counter attacks, so just time things right and this game is a breeze. Practice makes perfect if your timing is off, and you do need perfect timing to beat the game, because otherwise you just end up playing tennis with a world destroying energy ball. Fun, but it gets old after about the third time the last boss counters your counter of his last counter of you countering his attack.
There are a few other bits to the game. There is a simple RPG element that allows you to power up skills by spending the crystals you collect, or invest in unlocking characters. However, the power up aspect is kind of unnecessary because you have to fight the last boss divested of all your cool stuff anyway.
They also thoughtfully included an invincible mode available if you die, but if you use it then you cannot collect any more crystals for as long as it lasts. With a six minute timer that’s enough for a level and a half, and by then you might as well start over anyway because you’ve missed too many stat increases. Think a very simple button masher with a couple of places that have some intricate timing and that about covers things.
While this is the GBA, the graphics have a tendency to vary between the decent and the absolutely horrible. They put a lot of work into trying to make the characters look pretty good, and throwing detail into some of the faces, but others… not so much. The colors are rather cartoony, but then the game is to so that kind of works.
What bothers me is the animation. One of the main villains is supposed to do some sort of little dance or something, I think, but unfortunately just looks like he’s trying to shake a “cling on” from his tights. Yeah it is that bad. Most of the fighting animation looks ok fortunately, but “Mr. Shaker” and his squad of poorly toilet trained goons who “animated” the cut scenes pretty much negate that. Also there is this stage with a chase on a river that looks about as realistic as that jungle safari ride at Disneyworld.
While you are on this jaunt through the aforementioned gauntlets of pixilated majesty be sure to stop and admire the giant sprite they use near the end. Instead of redrawing one of the earlier bosses they simply blow up the other sprite so it’s bigger. That’s right, look at something drawn in Paint really close and all the jaggies and blurriness comes leaping off the screen.
So ultimately this game tries hard and fails, but got a few things right.
The sound is generally passable for the GBA, but there isn’t much there. Background music that you are thankful is in the background, and some moments of voice “acting” but that’s about all. It works only because of the limitations of the system.
They tried. They really, really tried. With twenty unlockable characters, a verses mode (though you would then have to find someone else who owned this game, and even worse you would have to admit that you do), and the ability to play the unlocked characters through in single player mode, and a time attack mode you would think that there was plenty of content to this game. However, the single player story took me all of four hours to complete, and that’s including about ten minutes of world destroying tennis at the end.
On the other hand, this game is fairly addictive, possibly because it is so simple. Sometimes you only want to mash buttons, I guess. Also, it does provide nearly endless hours of entertainments with lines like “Let’s attack him with the ancient spell with difficult counter timing”, “Welcome Soul of Hero from another world.”, and a final boss who says to give your soul to him to become the ultimate warrior, but then just accepts the fact that you’ll refuse. As translations go this is BAD, but completely hilarious because of it.
This game sucks, but it sucks like being addicted to heroin sucks. Once you take that first hit you can’t help but want another. So try to stay away from it, because otherwise you’ll end up having to explain those Ashlee Simpson CDs.