Guardian War, also known as powers kingdom is a game for the 3do system. Before I go forward, a little history lesson. The 3DO was released in 1993 and was a very powerful system for the time, however, due to the high price of the console, poor design choices and a lack of game support to draw in a crowd, the system quickly faded away. Considered a failure, the system has some good things going for it, some of the best console ports of games are on 3DO and then there are more obscure games such as Guardian War.
The story of Guardian War is simple, an evil being known as Azrael has unleashed Chaos and destruction onto the world of Power’s Kingdom. Monsters now infest the planet and all the plants and trees are losing their, “vital energy,” due to the destruction and carnage that chaos has wrought. Finally, the Goddess Erald had enough of that and decided to create a golem to kill Azrael. This golem must travel through Powers Kingdom and awaken his/her/its followers from their shrines and slay all the evil in the world.
Guardian War will feel extremely familiar to anyone who has played the Final Fantasy Tactics games. However, there are some slight differences. For starters, you begin with 2 golem’s and have an overworld with a bunch of levels. However, you need to complete each level before you can move on to the next one, it should be noted that you cannot go to levels you have previously completed. Once you pick a level, you are transported to a map that your characters move around on. The goal of each map is to destroy all the monsters and to find the treasures within them.
Once you come upon some enemies, then the gameplay changes. All of your warriors come out and combat is handled in a turn based manner. And, as with all turn based games, you get a variety of options on each of your warriors turns. You can attack, use spells (if you have them), go into a defensive position and take a lot less damage or use items or potions. All of this can be done after moving a select difference. Early on, this system is extremely simple, but as the game progresses, it becomes fairly complex. But don’t let that scare you, the complexity isn’t overwhelming like some games tend to be.
On the subject of difficulty, you will notice that some area’s are just plain unbeatable with your current party. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to make life easier. For starters, each golem can be equiped with a variety of equipment based on what body they use. The body’s range from knights to wizards to ninjas. These bodies give different abilities such as healing or a basic slash attack. Another mechanic that I simply love is the ability to use 3 bodies worth of abilities on any golem. Another great thing the game gives you is what I call, “Grinding Zones.” These are areas that stay open the entire game and allow you to go back to them as much as you want. These are great for leveling up underdeveloped heroes or to sharpen the skills of others. For some, the idea of grinding is a terrible thing, but I can safely say that I have only spent about an hour of grinding on my playthrough, so it isn’t that bad.
Next I feel that I should at least comment on the graphics and sound. I personally love the look of the game, there is a charm to it that you don’t see in games today. The enemies are scary and cute in equal measure, which makes me almost feel bad for slaying them….almost. The environments are simple but have enough detail as to not hurt the eyes during gameplay, I love the temple environments. Finally the music is actually pretty good. The overworld theme is full on heavy metal, perfect for getting you in the mood for some action, while the level themes range from chaotic to soft and smooth. Great stuff. Now unfortunatly, the sounds the combatants make during the fights and the spell sounds are rather lackluster. Not a one of them blew me away, Thankfully the graphics on the high level spells are awe inspiring.
Finally, I have to note that for a strategy game, it is father simple. Once you understand how to mix and match bodies and equipment, you pretty much have the hardest part of the game down. And because the game disperses shops that sell you the best equipment you can get at that time, there really is no excuse not to have the best gear. Sadly, this is the games biggest flaw, its a bit too forgiving for my taste.
In conclusion, Guardian Wars is a fairly deep and complex strategy game (at first) that has gone rather unnoticed. Which is a shame because it offers up some fantastic gameplay that allows for a good amount of experimentation. Though it is repetitive, especially when you have to grind, Guardian Wars throws enough new enemies, abilities and Items in your direction that you won’t be thinking about the flaws for too long. A solid game!