It's more than just the cartoony polygonal graphics that make Activision's Guardian's Crusade an attention-grabbing RPG. For starters, the game-called Knight & Baby in Japan--is the first RPG developed by Tamsoft, who's best known for creating the Toshinden fighters. And then there's its blatant borrowing of several flavor-of-the-moment game concepts, including all the things that Pokemon and Monster Rancher did first (see the sidebar for more on the game's hybrid flair).
Right near the quest's outset, your armor-clad hero stumbles on a baby critter--named, appropriately enough, Baby-who clutches to your side like a doe-eyed puppy. Your goal for the rest of this 35- to 40-hour adventure is to return Baby to its momma, along the way discovering a s. few secrets about the little guy. Lucky for you, Baby's got teeth. He'll fight alongside you in battle and gain strength and skills, HI such as the ability to fly, throughout the game. And while you don't run across any other characters who join your party, you will uncover a vast army of tiny helpers, called Living Toys, who you summon from your pocket to join the fray. Guardian's Crusade is a traditional RPG, with turn-based battles, a massive overworld and lots of miniquests.
It also features about 15 minutes of rendered, appropriately cartoony cutscenes. But don't let the cutesy visuals lead you to think the game's pure kid's stuff. With its huge variety of Living Toy helpers, the game packs a surprising amount of strategy.
Granting the game its Tamagotchi twist is Baby, your pink, sickeningly cute, vaguely hippo-like sidekick and ward. Like any digital pet, Baby reguires nurturing throughout the adventure. You can feed him to make him happy and healthy, as well as send him off to fetch things on the overworld map. If you like what he finds-which can be anything from money to armor-you can praise him. If Baby fetches a worthless item or weapon, you should scold him instead, or else he'll always bring you crap items. Scold him too often, however, and the little guy just might bite you.
Baby is also your compadre in battle. As he gains experience, he'll learn to morph into 14 different characters, each with unigue attacks.
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If you like your RPGs gritty and grown-up (along the lines of Xenogears and Panzer Dragoon Saga), then you'll wanna keep on walkin' past Guardian's Crusade. It's a cutesy, traditional RPG with a simple story and goof-batl humor. But if you crave something different from your RPGs, well, you might want to steer clear anyway. The game offers some cool new twists--namely, a Tamagotchi-like dragon pal and an army of "Living Toy" helpers--but these turn out to be gimmicky rather than the strategic battle partners I'd hoped for. Your dragon helper often acts unpredictable in battle, no matter how much you spoil it with snacks of cheeseburgers and bugs (told you the game was goofy). And despite being able to collect more than 70 living Toys, only a handful are useful; the rest are wimpy novelties (only a few of the final Boss battles require major strategic use of the toys). GC's graphics are sparsely detailed. Hiked the look at first, but the simple textures give every building, tree and rock a sameness that makes getting lost easy. Storywise. GC drags until you get' near the end of the roughly 20-hour quest. Here it unloads a few unexpected plot twists before wrapping up in a pretty good ending. Bottom line; GC is RPG lite-fun for what it is, but it could have been so much more.
I have no problem with simple graphics. And overly pastel environments in an RPG (heck, one of my favorite RPGs ever was Paladin's Quest for the SNES). What bothers me about Guardian's Crusade is that the gameplay is too simplistic. The battle system is extremely generic (most of the Living Toys aren't necessary at all), and the whole game is a bit too cheesy for my tastes. It's not a total waste, though--I think kiefs will dig it.
I have mixed emotions about Guardian's Crusade. On one hand I like Its colorful and extremely detailed 3D graphics (they almost look hand-drawn in some cases). In addition,. GC has a really unique fighting system with the whole "Living Toy" thing. Still, it's not an RPG for serious fans of the genre. Granted, most RPGs can be silly at times, but GC is just too lighthearted in general. Overall, it's not a bad RPG--just more for beginners.
I'm all for RPGs that do something different, but Guardian's Crusade just doesn't deliver on its promised innovations. Too many of the Living Toy helpers are too weak in battle. Your baby-dragon sidekick is often more annoying than helpful. At the same time, the game's story is a bit dull and hard to follow, while the graphics are too cutesy for my tastes. At least there's an option to speed up battles so you can get through the game faster.
Activision throws its helmet into the realm of RPGs with Guardians Crusade--but can an unoriginal yet compelling title survive in one of gamings most competitive genres?
GC puts you in the armor of a young knight charged with a perilous quest; return an infant monster to a legendary tower in a far-off land. You'll cross several continents during your adventure, learning to use magic-wielding living-toys in battle as you and the monster mature to power. Despite the games numerous side quests, GC never loses its main dramatic thrust Each step brings newer, stronger monsters while the living-toys and the baby monster's growing abilities consistently shake your strategy.
Been There, Done That
GC's visuals are somewhat similar to Mario 64s, featuring blocky-looking monsters and characters who are accented with highly detailed environments. The 7 magical and living-toy effects nicely break up the game's monot-ony, but only GCs sparse cinematics inspire visual wonder.
Similarly, GCs sounds set the tone for each area, but its overly familiar score and cliched sound effects don't add any creative flair. GC's interface, however, which is highlighted by an intuitive automatic camera, is user-friendly and easy to use. The standard Final Fantasy-style turn-based batde system will come naturally to RPG experts and newbies alike.
In the end, Guardian Crusades an overly clean, straightforward RPG that rarely shines but never disappoints. The quest will sate hardcore RPG fans looking for more of the same, but won't win over gamers looking for something fresh.
- On your second trip to the mayor's home in Zed Harbor, check behind that candle holder for an extra treat.
- Keep the stone wall on your right as you cross the vast desert in search of the cave entrance.
- Make Baby go fetch objects often-you can sell whatever you don't need. If Baby refuses, give him some snacks to lighten his spirits.
- Use the Foreman living-toy to return to the entrance of Kuldo's Ruins where you can save your game and your accumulated experience points.
With more than 50 weapons, over 100 enemies, and a monster that can transform into 14 different characters, Guardian's Crusade offers enough variety to hopefully slice its way into the castles of role-playing fanatics everywhere.
Guardians Crusade is an old-school action-RPG where you must journey through mysterious lands to learn the secrets of a lost pink monster, reunite it with its mother, and save the world from imminent destruction.
Throughout your quest, you'll interact with townsfolk; acquire new weapons, magic, and armor; and use an army of "living coys" (there are over 70 in all) to destroy your enemies. Each living toy has its own powers, including a voodoo doll that kills enemies by eliminating its own body parts-- piece by piece. While the fighting is turnbased, you can actually see your enemies approaching you on the map, giving you the choice to either fight or run away.
After finding the little pink monster, it essentially becomes your virtual pet, learning new abilities and forming its personality based on how you treat it throughout the game. During fights, die monster can transform into 14 different characters, from a giant sword to a fat bat, to aid you in battle.
The graphics feature colorful lands and cool-looking special attacks, but the interface and overall appearance seems skewed toward younger gamers. Guardians Crusade also features anime cut scenes to help pace the action and a fully 3D polygonal world for you to explore. You can look for this potentially addicting RPG to hit stores in March.
When it comes to PlayStation games, I like shooting people, blowing up cars and generally smacking the snot out of people. So I wasn’t thrilled about reviewing Guardian’s Crusade, but this game has broadened my horizons and I found I like to do one more thing on the PlayStation: role-playing!
You’re a young Knight who runs an errand for the Mayor with your companion, a fairy named Nehani. Needless to say, your errand turns out to be a bigger task than you first anticipated and you’re quickly on your way to saving the world and discovering your destiny in this romping adventure.
As you can guess from the opening paragraph, I don’t have a lot of experience with role-playing games; in fact, the extent of my knowledge is a weekend where I rented Final Fantasy VII and didn’t like it. But I do like Guardian’s Crusade a lot. That’s because Guardian’s Crusade is quirky, witty and just plain fun. Not far into the adventure you meet Baby, a pink monster that sort of looks like a pig. Although the combat system helps make the game great, Baby adds the icing to the cake.
Your first mission with Baby is to try to kill it off by abandoning it in cave, but it’s such a cool little pet that you end up going back for it the next day and you soon become inseparable. Baby is a pet, because you have to take care of it and nurture it or you won’t get much help from it in combat. Like most pets, it doesn’t always do what you want when you want and you sometimes have to cheer it up by sacrificing a candy bar or two. When Baby is happy you’re able to send it off to fetch something useful, or at least you hope so. Depending on what is brought back you either scold Baby or praise it, which is important to do correctly if you want to train it properly. Baby is also a clever little pet in that it can learn spells and transformations from monsters it fights, and can then imitate them. This can be EXTREMELY helpful, as one of the transformations it learns early on is just downright brutal. Baby is also a pack mule, in that it can carry extra supplies when your sack is full; however, Baby does get tired from packing your junk around, so you occasionally have to give it a good night's sleep. As Baby matures, it can also learn how to fly; it can then fly you to any location in the world. Pretty cool, and it’s a lot cheaper than American Airlines!
The combat system in Guardian’s Crusade is really nifty. You find these things called Living Toys by snooping around in people’s chest boxes and barrels. One of the things I found annoying, though, was that Nehani would lecture you about it being impolite to search through someone’s dresser, but it’s okay if you snag someone else’s toy from a toy chest. (Remind me to hide my chests and barrels if you see Knight and Baby coming along.) There is a wide variety of Living Toys that perform different functions and require psychic points in combat to use. They generally fall into three categories: continuous (stays by your side throughout the battle), multiple use (must be called up each time you want to use it), and single use (can be used only once per battle). Some of the first toys you get are Mr. O’Neal, who uses his faithful baton as a deadly weapon, and Pyro, who launches lethal fireballs at the enemy. There are a lot more than these two, but I’ll let you discover the rest!
After you slay enough monsters, you and Baby get to level up, with each level a little harder to obtain because of the increase in experience points needed. A nice touch they added was making the monsters running around on the map proportionate in size to their skills and yours--so if you see a small monster you know it’s going to be an easy kill (the monsters realize this as well and they will attempt to flee from you). Some of the larger monsters will hunt YOU down, and when you see one of these big hummers coming along you have a choice of trying to avoid it or going for some big experience points. If your health falls to zero, you revert to the last place where you saved the game. It’s okay for Baby to lose all of its health points, as it just gets knocked unconscious. A lot of times I wish they would have cut down on the number of monsters because I was sometimes fighting what seemed to be long battles every two minutes or so. This can make the game a bit boring at moments and takes away some of the fun.
This is also the first game where I actually turned the Dual Shock option OFF. I love my Dual Shock controller and think it adds another dimension to games, but in this case it was just annoying. The control shakes when you get hit, which is where they should have left it. Instead the control shakes for a good five seconds while entering combat mode. Remember when I said that sometimes you’re fighting every two minutes? Trust me, after fighting just five monsters you’ll be turning it off as well.
The graphics aren’t the prettiest I’ve seen, but they’re not hideously ugly either. The best are during the opening sequence, which shows a stork carrying Baby and getting chased by some evil birds. They also did a good job of allowing the map to rotate so that you could view the land from different angles and see treasure chests and hidden doors that were previously hidden. I really didn’t see any distortion like I sometimes see in other games, so all in all I think it was a good job in the graphics department.
This is a fun game and is a must-buy for people who love role-playing games. For the people who usually like blowing things up instead, this would be a great game to rent to introduce you to the world of role-playing. Who knows? It might catch you by surprise and turn you into a fan like me.