By Success Sega Saturn 1998


(Above) The yellow shots can be fired in any direction you like.
(Below) What can only be described as a 'very big laser'

There are three weapon placements on the
Guardian Force ship - the fixed forward-firing cannon, the rotating turret, and two missile bays. It's possible to have all three weapons fitted at once, which makes for some pretty hectic action when you're firing forward shots, flipping lasers around 360 degrees and dispatching little homing missiles to finish the job! A press of the B button fires one of the five special weaopns, which vary from homing fire lasers to weird plasma balls which sit in the middle of the enemy delivering damage. It all looks quite decent in a retro kind of way, but it's hardly cutting-edge laser action.

The ball on a string weapon is very strange indeed!

And another reason why the J-2 won the 'Best New Innovation' at the 2353 Marsbase New-Tech Expose is its upgradability. Throughout the levels, players are able to collect power-ups left by destroyed enemies - as you'd expect. (..but of course!) Guardian Force allows players to collect an excellent eight different weapons, with several specific guns for the spinning turret, meaning players usually control two totally different weapons throughout the game. There are also five seperate special weapons just for upgrading the turret. These are powered by collecting icons which fill the special guage, and unleashed by pressing a second button. These specials fire in the direction the rotating turret is facing, so it's possible to fire your super-attack in any direction you choose, making alien toast of anything that offends
you, no matter where it's hiding...

The graphics have that 'retro' look about them in places,
but some of the backgrounds are superbly detailed.

UPDATE: Having recently got the chance to play Guardian Force I can report that it's a cracking little shooter indeed! The turret rotation system adds a lot of interest and fun to the game, the graphics are colourful and detailed, and there's not a hint of slowdown even with masses of onscreen sprites, and the super-weapons are great fun - I'm especiallly fond of the ball-on-a-string weapon. ;). Lastly it's an absolute blast to play especially with two players. Definitely in my top 5 or 6 Saturn shooters, if you see it cheap grab it! Mike B

Coming from Succes, the guys who brought
us the cute Cotton shooter series, comes a traditional-style top-down shooter with a few
neat touches..

This review, from the sadly now defunct official UK Sega Saturn Magazine, captures the Destroy all Monsters 'feel' so well I had to put it in! Although I've yet to play Guardian Force myself, coming from top producer Success hopefully means a that the title should be a fairly hot Saturn shootie, which I really ought to get hold of at some point.. well after I can tear myself away from Radiant Silvergun and Soukyugerentai perhaps.. ;) Mike

o there I was, just about to sit down in front of Emmerdale (awfully dull UK rural TV soap.. Mike) with a cup of tea and half a packet of chocolate Hob Nobs (awfully nice UK biscuits ;).. Mike) when the damn phone rings. And guess who it is? Only the bloody Transglobal Defence Department! Turns out the whole world was invaded by blood-crazed aliens from the planet Teeflux while I was at work, and do you know what they've done? Only gone and destroyed everything in their all-conquering wake! Luckily, they left one untested and experimental fighter unscathed (Now there's a shock!) so I've barely got time to wolf down my tea and switch off the telly, before pulling on my combat leathers and running out to save the world!

Fortunately, the TDD has been developing a blinding
little one-seater for this kind of situation, and the J-2-Multiblaster (TM) sure is the ship for the job. You see, it's got these two guns fitted onto it - one which fires forward all the time, and another which is fitted to a spinning turret. This may be rotated by pressing a couple of buttons on the VR-Comlink (TM) head-up display (this craft may also be controlled by plugging a Sega Saturn joypad into the Retro-Jack Unicom (TM) adapter.) This is the best feature of the ol' J-2, allowing pilots to simultaneously attack forwards while also sweeping around to cover enemy attacks from the back
and sides.

Aha! A boss! Kill it with your diagonal blasters..
The bosses are all 2D, although a few still have some
pretty impressive attacks. It may be too easy for some.

The levels themselves are a mixture of horizontal and vertical action, with the Saturn even switching directions mid-level to make Guardian Force a very technical blaster, especially as players often need to rotate weapons to compensate for the changes in direction and sometimes end up fighting down the screen.. (whoaah!) The graphics sit in the well-worn 2D seat, with not even the slightest sniff of a polygon wafting through the levels. The bosses are okay, but not the largest or most varied we've ever seen, although the devious way the game changes the scroll direction gives the normal levels a bit of extra variety to make amends. It's fairly easy to zip through the game on the generous ten continues the default setting allows, although each level does feature its own unique look and style - albeit with some pretty uninspiring and dangerously bland-in-places visuals.

All in all, Guardian Force is a cool - if unspectacular - little shooter, with enough clever ideas and innovations to raise it above the level of most predictable blasters. We're certainly fans of old-skool shooters and this title makes the grade in most areas. However it does lack the kind of quality features that push players (and the Saturn) to any new levels. It's a worthy purchase for shoot 'em up fanatics... but definitely put
it below Radiant Silvergun on your import shopping list.

For another good, in-depth Guardian Force review and
much more visit
Alan Kwan's Videogame Page.

Alternatively: The Saturn has a whole bunch of high-quality top-down
Space shoot 'em ups, including many fabulous arcade conversions, which
are especially enjoyable if played in proper arcade-style vertical mode
with the TV turned on its side. Here are six of the very best..

DO DON PACHI From Atlas, who brought us the Strikers 1945 series
on Saturn, comes what many people consider one of the finest 'traditional-style' 2D vertical arcade shooter on the Saturn, if not any system. Awesome graphics, amazing weapons and seven long, manic, and very challenging stages
make this game a shooter fans
dream come true. (Note: I've since changed my mind a bit about this game, now much preferring its prequel Don Pachi, and games like
Shienryu and Kyukyoku Tiger II. Look for a review soon. Mike)

Solid conversion of one of Toaplan's less
well known space shooters. As with many Toaplan titles, ridiculous over-the-top firepower is the order of the day, so if you like this kind of thing it may well be just your cup of tea. (Anyone who ever got to play Grindstormer on the Megadrive /Genesis will know what I mean ;)). But it's still a top-calibre conversion.

SHIENRYU Beautiful graphics and some fab bosses in an appealing 'Raiden'-style shoot-em-up which also manages to pinch bits from other classic shooters like Truxton, Strikers 1945 and Taito's Layer Section series along the way. A little bit easy on default 'normal' difficulty, wack it on 'hard' mode and you could well get your money's worth.

Cover Scans
LAYER SECTION The best (only?) top-down Saturn
shooter to get a Western release, Taito's Layer Section
was renamed Galactic Attack (ugh) by Acclaim's marketing bods, but it's an excellent shooter if you can overlook the dodgy moniker. Another quality Taito release, arguably
better than it's sequel (aka


SOUKYUGURENTAI Stunning and fast-paced horizontal format vertical shooter by Raizing (producers of Battle Garegga, another great Saturn shooter) which blew me away (in more ways than one) the first time I saw it. Probably the most visually striking shooter on the console, with some amazing mode-7 style sprite-scaling too, with huge bosses and smaller enemy ships alike zooming into the screen from all over the the place, and some impressive polygon interspersed 2D backdrops. Some elements of Layer Section crop up, but Soukyugurentai adds plenty of original elements all its own, especially in the weapon department. Shares the crown IMO as best Saturn shoot 'em up along with Radiant Silvergun.


RADIANT SILVERGUN Last but not least, Treasure's highly accomplished take on the vertical shooter genre provides some amazingly beautiful graphics (the backdrops fuse 2D and polygons in the most seamless and stunning manner), fab music and an extremely odd but strangely evocative (if not understandable) storyline. In many ways this reminds me of fighting-game titles in the way a huge (for a shooter) range of different weapons are utilized by various buttons combinations - meaning that there's plenty of depth here for sure.. its just the pace of the game that IMO lets it down a little, and some people will undoubtedly find it too slow - but hey it's all a matter of taste really eh? It's also an incredibly difficult game.. Considered by many the best shoot-em-up ever. If you are after a more accessible or traditional shooter I would probably recommend Soukyugurentai or Do Don Pachi though.

Cover Scans

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