At first glance Vanguard Bandits isn't all that impressive. The graphics look extremely dated and the music sounds like it belongs on a SNES cartridge. However, those who give the game a chance will see that there's a lot of depth to be found here. This is one of the few strategy/RPGs with some semblance of replay value. Depending on choices you make and how well the main character. Bastion, performs in battle, there are multiple story line branches. The only way to complete all 56 missions is to play the game a few times. Vanguard Bandits' fighting system is both simplistic and deep all at the same time. It's very reminiscent of Sega's Shining Force games. Frontal attacks almost never do any real damage, while attacking from the rear or sides gives one a huge advantage. Take that simple concept and put it into practice on a wide-open field or a small corridor and it's easy to see how diverse each battle can be. Players also have the choice of defending, avoiding or countering blows depending on how they're being attacked. The biggest problem in the game is that the battles can sometimes run for over an hour, so it gets a little tedious at times. In fact, it can become quite tedious after a while. The story isn't overly interesting either--something Working Designs games usually don't suffer from. Still, strategy fans looking for something lighter than Front Mission 3 should find a lot to like in Vanguard Bandits.
I'm normally a fan of the games Working Designs chooses to localize, but for the life of me I can't understand why they chose Vanguard Bandits. It's gameplay is bested by virtually any PlayStation strategy RPG--Vandal Hearts or its sequel, Final Fantasy Tactics, Kartia. Unlike those games, most battles here quickly degenerate into groups of characters hacking and slashing at close range every turn. The translation itself is great--an excellent job once again by WD. But that isn't going to make what is, at its heart, an average game great. There are plenty of good PS RPGs out there--skip this and go straight to Lunar 2.
One thing about Working Designs--they do a great job localizing text and telling a story, and so it is with Vanguard Bandits (don't listen to Greg). But unfortunately the plot is about the only remarkable aspect of this game. The graphics are pathetically simple, and the tunes sound like bad Genesis music. Of course in a strategy/RPG I could deal with that if the gameplay was deep and involving, but it's pretty dull too. The combat and stages are way too repetitive, and the goal always seems to be just kill everything. Only hardcore fans of the genre should try this old-school dropout, especially with Front Mission 3 out there.