A manga-styled 2D beat ‘em up that showcases everything the Saturn is brilliant at and more. Guardian Heroes is from legendary developers Treasure, and is so good they obviously realised they’d never top it and decided to make shooters instead.
From the opening cinematic (that possesses one of the finest opening tunes ever) to the ending scene, the whole game drips class from every pore. A combination of side-scrolling fighter and action RPG, Guardian Heroes offers a huge cooperative adventure with branching stories that I’ve never managed to see in its entirety, and with around thirty sizeable stages to play it’s not hard to see why. It goes without saying that an Xbox Live Arcade resurrection would be unspeakably amazing, but I’d even settle for a PSP port on a "Treasure’s Greatest Hits" package (think about it – Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga, Gunstar Heroes, Guardian Heroes and Silhouette Mirage on one UMD? Yum!)
The real reason to play Guardian Heroes though is almost certainly the chaotic six-player mode, which is quite unlike anything else around then or even today. Forty or so characters you defeat in the single-player mode are all available here, from the flame sword-wielding Super Han (not, sadly, Super Hans) to the Undead Warrior and giant Cyclops to tiny rabbit Nando. With handicaps and teams set it’s into the arena to bash lumps out of each other, and although it’s not the most tactical fighting game of its time it’s varied enough to make it worth coming back to. And if all else fails, boost yourself up to level 200 and laser everyone.