Released in 1996, Guardian Heroes was Treasure's first game on the Sega Saturn. Featuring a wildly branching story, fully animated characters, and apocalyptic boss fights, Guardian Heroes is likely the most detailed and visually chaotic beat 'em up ever created. The story revolves around an undead swordsman, a crazy wizard, and two opposing spiritual forces. This was also one of the few Saturn games that made use of the 6-player functionality through a deathmatch arena.
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Single-segment Golden Silver path with Ginjirou 0:32:47 by Mandela Shabazz.
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For those keeping score at home, this is my third speedrun behind Shinobi(ps2) and Jet Grind Radio(DC).
Perhaps I should preface these comments by noting that although this is a beat 'em up at heart, some characters have the move list complexity more suited to a fighting game. That said; I choose to play as Ginjiro Ibushi because he is the only main character that could be described as a fighter and a battle mage. Whether magic attacks or physical hits, Ginjiro is known for his rapid rate of massive combos (which can get into the hundreds when talking about the number of hits being laid out).
Rather than trying to explain everything here, I will discuss aspects of gameplay as they arise. I will also try to give you a decent summarization of what storylines are flying by during dialogue segments. Each level has one to three areas that must be conquered and typically there is some kind of boss fight in the last area.
We join our heroes gathered around the dinner table at the local inn. Han, the group's tank has just found a badass sword on his daily adventure. Suddenly a woman in red armor (Serena) busts through the door, tells you not to use that sword, and warns you that the royal knights are coming. Some guards begin rushing into the room and the heroes jump out the window.
If I were to stay in this room and fight the knights with Serena, the room gradually catches on fire until we are forced to leave. Instead I quickly use two magic attacks and leave. The reason for this is that using magic gives you EXP (whether you hit enemies or not). The first one is called thunder palm and it is my most powerful move, though it may not look like much now. The second one is a teleport move that costs the most MP and gives the most EXP. When done right at the start, those two magic attacks actually kick me up to lvl 6. You get an HP/MP boost whenever you go to a new area, so you will always see me use my remaining magic before the area changes.
We drop down to the streets and find more knights are after us. Let me talk about Ginjiro's physical attacks just so you'll know what you're going to see. Unlike magic, you only get EXP when a physical attack hits an enemy (even if they are already dead). You can also get some MP back by hitting (living) enemies.
There are many more moves and move variations that I use here and there but these are the main ones you'll see.
So we get chased to the outskirts of town and briefly encounter prince Valgar before he sets his giant robot upon us. This robot (and almost all others) can be killed with just one thunder palm, but I spend a few extra seconds to get some more EXP off it.
So then Han jumps in with his new sword and starts to say something but then he gets struck by lightning. Now we witness the revival of the Golden Warrior aka Undead Hero. After the GW takes care of our robot problem, the stage ends.
This is a very short level. At first the Golden Warrior is trying to kill Serena but then it is discovered that he will obey verbal commands. Let me explain a little more about the GW. He's my NPC ally for the rest of the game, his physical strikes rock hardcore, but he's really more of a liability in that he is the most common cause of my death. There are six commands that I can issue but the only one I use is "Berserk" and not until much later in the game.
We fight some guards, then zombies start popping up, then more guards. There was a royal upheaval many years ago where the old royal khans were ousted by the Valgar family and their wizard, Kanon (more later). The GW and these zombies are fallen soldiers from that conflict that the sword has reawakened.
At the end I get to make my first branch decision. I select "You may go to town without fear" cause I'm ballsy like that.
Perhaps I should explain about the luck stat since that's all I'm raising in-between levels. I might be wrong about some of this, because it is just what I have observed in playing. Luck determines the rate and strength of critical attacks, the rate and amount of MP regenerated by physical attacks, the amount of HP/MP that is restored when going to a new area, and it seems like it can occasionally lower the cost of magic attacks as well as damage done to you. So, it's really a good stat for magic users and for people that don't want to raise things like STRength (physical damage), VITality (HP), or MENtality (MP). AGiLity isn't necessary since Ginjiro is already so fast.
Anyway, it's just more brawling with knights through the first area.
Robots blow up when they die, I say this because we're now inside Kanon's royal robot warehouse. You're also going so see a lot of blocking in this stage so let me talk about that. Blocking greatly decreases damage and if you are knocked down to 0 HP while blocking, you will not die. As you can see, when someone is electrocuted, burned, or frozen, these elemental status effects are contagious to nearby friends and enemies. Blocking also protects against this unless the person is directly overlapping you. I guess I should also point out that there is a mid-ground and background plane that I have access too but for a number of reasons I try to keep all the action in the foreground.
Some lowly guards run in crying about a giant, sword-wielding zombie and a purple-haired ninja. Then blam! Kanon gets fed up with their failures. He sics his most advanced robot soldier, Silver, on us. After negotiating my way through Silver's defenses and nearly killing him, I am presented with the options "Close in on Kanon" or "Retreat and to go to the nearby village". Of course, I choose the ballsiest choice. Serena joins us and more robots drop in.
Robot ambush! The knights that lead the guard groups have very long range and can come in quite powerful variations. There is a sign at the end that lets me teleport to the arena for extra EXP battles but I don't have time for that!
If I stay in the foreground, the guards in back never activate and I can just bypass them. This area is essentially me and GW rocking our way through the ranks of the kingdom's army. You might even notice that if the guards get too low on health, they'll sometimes just drop their swords and try to run away. At the end we find Kanon and Valgar chillin.
STORY SEQUENCE (skip to stage 22 if you don't care)
Serena pops in again. Then prince Valgar's sister, Lucia (in blue) runs up and voices her discontent with Kanon's power mongering. Kanon gets all electrically angry. Valgar tells Lucia to split. Kanon reveals that Serena is the daughter of the khans, the rightful royal family. Valgar can't handle the truth. The GW takes a run at Kanon but is countered with a paralyzation spell. It is now revealed that the Golden Warrior was the last soldier to die defending the khans. Then we all go on a hallucinogenic history lesson courtesy of Kanon.
So there are Sky Spirits and Earth Spirits and they don't like each other. Humans were caught in the middle of this conflict. The Sky Spirits gave humans magic power so humans helped drive the Earth Spirits underground. The Sky Spirits reconsidered the power that they gave to humans and decided to stick the surviving wizards underground too, just to be safe. Kanon, a wizard from that time vowed revenge. Using his magic he eventually escaped back to the surface. The khans didn't trust his wizardly powers, so he initiated the coup and put the Valgar family in power while he raised a wizard/robot army to fight the Sky Spirits. Prince Valgar gets blasted away by Kanon's magic and now it is the heroes' turn to speak.
Admittedly, I choose the least ballsy reply "This is the way it must be." It's best to simply agree because Kanon is a seriously hardcore boss. He might be the hardest in the game considering that you encounter him only half way through. You can have Serena, GW, you, and another friend playing and Kanon will still slap you around with his magic. In any case, the GW wakes up and Kanon gets scared and teleports away. Now a voice speaks to you and then teleports your crew away as well.
Kanon is surprised to see us catch up with him in this cave (though we seem to have lost Serena in transit). Then King Valgar appears. Kanon, at the height of his confusion, is struck dead by King Valgar's lightning. Now the King reveals that he is actually Xenovia, Queen of the Earth Spirits. Apparently she still held a grudge against the wizard. She says that there is much that Kanon did not tell you about the Earth and Sky Spirits. I then get to make a decision!
I elect to "Return to the Castle" because I'm afraid of Gods!
No fighting = No EXP :(
Now you will see what raising INTelligence does to magic attacks. On the second group I set the GW to Berserk because there are these new enemies called banishers that can set up area of effect healing spells and shield spells, which is quite annoying to my purpose. The Berserk state gives the GW access to incredibly powerful magic attacks and makes him go bonkers. If I get caught up in these deadly attacks, it can very quickly spell The End for me. One of the deadliest groups of enemies in the entire game is the group of short mages. If one gets an ice spell on you and freezes you, they usually all turn and cast ice spells on you (which kills).
Silver's upgraded form, Golden Silver, introduces itself by taking princess Lucia hostage. A moral dilemma arises: "Try to save Lucia", "Attack and sacrifice Lucia", or "Hope for a miricle". I go ahead and try to save the girl but Golden Silver grabs her and runs while leaving me and GW to fight more robots. These robots demonstrate how lasers can rock me.
I set GW on Berserk at the start and we brawl our way through knights, robots, and a few mages. There's actually a secret boss fight I found while trying to speedrun this area. On the last group you can keep running to the right for several screens and eventually a fight will start with the Silver that I fought back in stage four plus two giant flying robots. Unfortunately, I found that this is simply unnecessary and more time consuming than just killing the regular groups.
We've finally tracked down Golden Silver, his entourage of robots, and his captive, Lucia. Valgar sweeps in and assassinates one of the robots. Golden Silver flies off. More robots drop in but Valgar says he'll take care of Lucia, so me and GW can pursue Golden Silver.
Golden Silver is displeased that Kanon is dead and states that robots will now rule humans in his stead. He then throws off his cape and starts whooping my ass. I get GW set to Berserk and then I have to fight for my own survival. Gunstar Heroes players (or speedrun watchers) may remember Golden Silver was the last boss of that game as well and this incarnation he has all the same little shapes helping him plus a whole bunch more moves. It ends happily, though.
You can read the ending yourself. This game was one of the reasons to own the Saturn; I actually got my copy for free when this guy decided to throw it in with my purchase of Panzer Dragoon Saga. It took me a while to even put the disc in the Saturn because I didn't immediately recognize it as a Treasure game (the US cover art makes it look like a lame RPG). But while I eventually got rid of PDS, I've always held onto Guardian Heroes. It's a hella cool game, and remember, you've only seen a small fraction of it by watching this.
Single-segment Golden Silver path with Nicole 0:26:17 by Jose Llado.
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XBLA version Single-segment Remix mode Golden Silver path with Ginjirou: 0:09:24 by Nelson Martinez.
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Hello there! It is with great honor that I present to you what seems to be my first ever submission to SDA!
A while back, I had a long vacation coming up. So I thought to myself that I would do something so that I don't get bored. So I decided that I would try to get something up onto SDA. Before this, I would stream runs on Friday mornings. And while they were fun to do, I didn't have the time or hardware to even do any real run attempts. That was when I started looking at Guardian Heroes, or more specifically the XBLA version. I saw a run with Nicole by Greenalink which was relatively short. That is when I thought to myself "Hey! I like beat em ups. This is short, and It's for a console that I actually own!" And so I decided to jump on in.
This run was the result of 3 months of planning and intense RNG I had to deal with. The first run I ever did of this was a test run that clocked in at around 14:58. This was when I was just getting used to the whole. The next run I did was a 12:25 that had some improved Level Management and not quite sucky play. Eventually that came down to a 10:55 mostly due to changing EXP around places. And now...there's this run. A 9:35, or 9:32 with SDA Timing I believe. This run has certainly come a long way, and I believe
*Key Notes & Possible Improvements:
In terms of running this version of Guardian Heroes, Ginjirou is by far the best character to use. His spells allow me to kill enemies with ease, and unlike Nicole, Ginjirou actually moves at a brisk speed. Because of this, Ginjirou is easily capable of eliminating large amounts of enemies fast.
In the XBLA version, there are two distinct modes that you can choose from, Original or Remix. In Original, the game plays exactly like in the Sega Saturn version. However in Remix, there are some subtle changes that actually compliment Ginjirou for this run. For instance, the controls have been slightly tweaked so that there are now three attack buttons, separating magic attacks from other assorted melee attacks. You also don't move a few inches anymore when you try to dash, and back flipping has also been moved to its own button. Gaining EXP has also changed. You now only gain EXP by attacking enemies. It doesn't matter if you use melee or magic attacks.
I have a pretty good feeling that you verifiers will be a little iffy about the deaths in this run. . Not only does a death refill my HP as well as my MP, but it also makes me temporarily invincible. This can allow me to like up for some extreme combos with the Lightning Palm without the risk of getting knocked around. This is also why I didn't reset after dying twice in Stage 27, since I was able to make up that time by killing nearly both waves of enemies with only one Lightning Palm attack for each.
The only part that can probably be improved is in Stage 10. It's not anything major, but the RNG on the first wave costed me quite a few seconds. The fight against Valgar went well though, so some of the time was made up there. Other than that, the run could probably be improved by some better RNG all around. However, The RNG in this game is so ridiculous, that any improvement that you gain in previous levels may not even carry over because something else might pop up and kill your run. This has happened more than enough times on Stage 30 with Golden Silver.
*Final Thoughts & Special Thanks:
First off, I would like to thank spacedemonebu (or Megatherium on the forums) for doing his run on the original Saturn version. He was the brave soul that did his run of Ginjirou for the Saturn version back in 2008. That run in a sense also inspired me to try and do a run with Ginjirou myself. Albeit for the 360, but a run none the less!
I would also like to thank Reed for his support as well as being the other runner of Guardian Heroes. It sure was nice to have some competition of sorts, even if he was just simply practicing for a marathon. Kudos to him and good luck to whatever he does in the future.
And finally, to all of the people at SDA for keeping this site still alive. Without SDA, I would have never decided to pick this up seriously and do this run seeing as how everyone seems to be ignoring it. (Seriously, go play it. :P)
That's all for now! I guess this makes 3 out of the possible 75 categories for this game. I hope to see you all later!
XBLA version Single-segment Remix mode Golden Silver path with Randy: 0:12:55 by Jose Llado.
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Guardian Heroes (XBLA): remix mode, normal difficulty, Randy, no-death
Stage 1 - During this part of the run you are EXTREMELY vulnerable to dying. Later on you will get free max hp from levelling up regardless of VIT, but in the meantime you can take maybe 3 hits. Not getting hit here is always in the back of your mind. If it seems like i'm going for sub-optimal combos, the early enemies are so weak they tend to fall out of your combos from dizzy state. So the two hit staff attack may only get the first hit which you can't jump cancel. This attack leaves him very vulnerable on whiff and some opportunistic grunt may come along and decide to take a credit from you. It's why i did some jab strings into his dragon punch at first.
Dont waste time with lightning unless you have at least 2-3 guys in your group that serena isn't dealing with. Make sure you're as close to or under the enemies you lightning to get max damage. Chasing down single enemies with her around is really hard since the NPC's like to launch or freeze people which makes them harder for you to finish off. Try your best to herd enemies into groups by backdashing through them, comboing them into a crowd, or just field swapping. Enemies can now air tech unlike the original game, so you have to be ready to chase them out of their air recoveries depending on the direction they choose. They will almost always choose to get away from the nearest edge of the screen.
Be especially careful around the axe soldiers at ANY point in this game. They have excellent throw range, they will tech your throws, their magic hits above and fullscreen to interrupt your combos and waste time, and their somersault attack trades with almost everything plus stays active way after the animation is done. These guys are killers and you'll see a lot of cases where i just stare them down afraid to make the first move cuz the cpu will absolutely interrupt whatever you throw out. Weigh the options of either having your throw teched, jumping out, waiting for the Undead Warrior, or swapping fields during a staredown.
The fight with the robot is super easy, but take notice of how strong his jab and machine gun attacks are. If he seems harmless when air teching out of an attack he will remind you just how fast his jumping jab is and interrupt your attacks. The machine gun is instant and has surprising range. It's also very hard to punish. Luckily you have Nando to make you an opening with his fireball attack which you can also lightning combo if he pops him up high enough. If you trust Serena to do her job, you can get behind the robot and endlessy do that staff spin to lock him in place for her. She'll probably thank you by doing an ice spell and screwing the whole thing up.
Stage 2 - This one's pretty straightforward. Kill 3 enemies, run from 3, kill 6 enemies. After being leveled up these guys are easy pickins. YOU CAN STILL DIE at any point in this run thanks to enhanced comboability in remix mode, so do not be shy with burst or pushblock if you feel threatened. Field swapping is still strong, but a lot of the new mechanics are stronger. You can be hit at the end of a backdash so don't get too crazy with that. The zombies are weak to fire so after running from them i'll usuall call nando and throw a fireball. UW will chase after them cuz they're closer and I'll try to take out the pink soldiers as quickly as possible. Easy.
Stage 5 - 90% of the time the soldiers leap over the barricades at the start of the level. Dash in and fry them while they're airborne. You have to be fast, but a safer alternative is just using his c.C launcher then fry. More running after that then a really hard boss fight.
Set UW to rage and go after that village god. It's hard to get a good clean first hit, so try and get Nando on him and give him the lightning. Be ready to back dash through his laser attack or get around his punch. After he's down try and partner up with UW since even he can be interrupted with that many baddies. RESPECT THE AXE SOLDIERS! Do not try to head stomp them. Do not try to dash through them. Either call in Nando, tenderize them with fireballs, or set ice near them and lure them in. You will most likely have to dp someone for mp regain, so make sure you fall back down somewhere safe.
I didn't get the cleanest robot kill here, but UW got an exceptionally good rage kill which made up for it.
Stage 10 - Ugh, stage 10. So many stragglers and those gd civilians. The grunts are easy to kill obviously, but watch out for stray axe soldiers in black. A lot of the enemies spawn on the right side of the screen so you're free to do ice or lightning and get them all to near death instantly. The giants are easy to juggle and stun, but watch out for stray atomic elbows. THE CIVILIANS! These guys have ruined some good runs for me. Their job is to get from one side of the screen to the other and have to do so before the screen will let you move to the next section. So if you see me attacking them it's to speed them along. You can either hit them when they're near a certain side of the screen and they will run in fear towards that side of the screen. What usually happens tho is UW will follow you and want to kill them. This is slower. My solution is to see how many are still onscreen before the last soldiers die and deal with them accordingly while UW is distracted. Stupid traitors.
Valgar's easy. For being a lightning type he doesn't handle Randy's spell too well, and I got a great Nando juggle off the first spell. Unfortunately he can burst out of it. If you get into an actual fight with him he will tech your throws, his kicks will out prioritize yours, and he is really fast. Standard repect tactics apply here (fireball/ice, Nando, UW).
The wizards CAN MURDER YOU INSTANTLY! Open up with a fast melee attack. Stay on them. If they get away from you DO NOT CHASE! They can lightning any aerial approaches, they can ice any frontal approaches and ice is usually insta-kill. If they plane shift out, you can safely punish them coming back in. If they get out of range wait on your buddies.
Stage 22 - At this point the herds of enemies are thick enough to do real damage to you from soldiers alone, so my tactics get a bit more conservative. The main goal is still launcher into lightning with UW cleanups. See me narrowly avoid an icy death and a lucky barrier in the corner. RESPECT THE AXE KNIGHTS!
The final 3 robots are monsters. You will see them surrounding UW a lot and getting a jab infinite on him. Luckily you have Nando and they are weak to lightning.
Stage 27 - This is the point in your run where you'll probably die the most thanks to the number and power of enemies. Right off the bat 3 soldiers try to surround you from the back which can prove fatal. Play gets even more conservative here since even soldiers know how to punish careless attacks. This enemy quality is what you can expect from a hard mode run.
Stage 30 - Ugh G Silver. Those damn gems. The gems are what take damage here, not the robot. Immidiately rage up UW and hope for a lucky spell. Lead in with nando as much as possible. The rage spell will not hit anything offscreen, so run towards it if UW pops too far away. Lightning is a great way to hit the gems while keeping GS away. Since GS is so fast ice helps keep him in place to focus on the gems. Randy's dp is the best way to regain mp, but you're risking being caught in a juggle by the fire gem. Hop fields a lot while keeping an eye on the gems. The white one tracks and spins around you doing physical attacks. Look for gaps in their patterns and get big punishes on any that UW swats to the ground.
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