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Advance Guardian Heroes

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Released: 2004

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Game Boy Advance

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Treasure

Submitted by: Robert Frazer

God, what a mess.

In times past, Treasure directors announced that they would never produce sequels, as mining the popularity of past concepts demeaned their artistic integrity and spirit of innovation. Fine words, but they haven’t been maintained through to the present day – Treasure’s often had to take on work with licensed properties to pay the bills (one of their very first games was a McDonalds-themed platformer!), and even their original properties from Gunstar Heroes to Sin and Punishment have been called on to provide service once more. While it was a high-minded sentiment, I don’t think any less of Treasure for making sequels – Treasure has crafted some fine updates, notably the DS’s Bangai-O Spirits, and basing your work on another source doesn’t necessarily compromise your vision, otherwise we’d never have had Shakespeare.

No, I don’t look down on Guardian Heroes Advance because it’s a sequel – I look down on it because it’s utter filthy reeking cesspit shite.

The translation work is shoddy and derisory, with encounters despoiled and cheapened by some truly hideous Engrish that could only have been signed off on because the developers simply didn’t care about it. The storyline wasn't the strongest part of the original, true, but in this sequel it's been bastardised to an utter joke (as far as I can decipher, anyway); the control system, which was fluid, rapid, lubricated, light and intuitive on the original incarnation on the Saturn, has somehow degenerated into becoming slow, ponderous, clumsy and obtuse on the Game Boy, for no real reason (your character can't even run); The varied character roster has now been replaced by the same single recoloured sprite; and while I can make some concessions for more limited technology on a handheld, to see the intense and furious hurricanes of battle diminish into slow, trade-blow-by-blow affairs on the handheld version is soul-destroying.

Guardian Heroes was a scintillating jewel finely cut by expert artisans at the very height of their talent. The ‘Advance’ sequel took that beautiful, precious stone, laid it out on a velvet cloth – and smashed it to pieces with a mallet.