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   Guardian's Crusade - Reader Retroview  

Knight and Baby
by Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy
COMPLETION TIME
15-30 Hours
OVERALL

1.5/5.0

Rating definitions 

   Thanks to the likes of Final Fantasy VII, the original Playstation had pretty much started to become a powerhouse of RPGs, and countless developers naturally flocked to the system to make their own attempts at the next big role-playing game. In 1998, Tamsoft developed the obscure Playstation RPG Knight and Baby, which Activision localized the next year as Guardian's Crusade. Like so many other RPGs without the almighty words "Final Fantasy," Guardian's Crusade has fallen off the mainstream RPG scene long after its time, not that players really missed a whole lot..

   This is a shame, really, because the battle system isn't all that bad. Enemies float around the game's diverse environs, represented by tadpoles of various sizes, with the smallest, when your levels are high enough, avoiding you and the larger ones instantly charging you. In battle, you input a command for the hero, including normally attacking, defending, using an item, changing A.I. orders for his pink dragon ally, running away, or using a Living Toy, which is basically like magic in virtually every other RPG (and, occasionally, a summon spell that stays and serves as an A.I. controlled ally), found in various places across the world.

It must hurt having arms that thin Knight realizes anorexia isn't all it's cracked up to be

   Though the escape option doesn't always work, players can rest assured that the hero will always execute his command immediately after the player inputs it. What really hurts the battle system, though, is its overly simplistic disposition. Most Living Toys are useless, as is the hero's dragon ally, despite an occasional transformation learned once in a blue moon from an enemy. Still, fights are much faster than in most other turn-based RPGs, and the encounter system saves the time and annoyance of fighting weaklings, and overall, the battle system is, at best, functional.

   One cannot entirely say the same of interaction, though, which contains its share of irritating features. One annoyance is the hero's limited inventory, although his dragon ally can hold a more-than-generous number of items. The limit on the hero's inventory does add to the effectiveness of the battle system by limiting the amount of items he can carry into battle (not that I really used items that much in battle, anyway), but it's still annoying that players can't equip a piece of equipment in the dragon's inventory, or even sell items at shops directly from the dragon's inventory, at that.

   A bigger flaw, though, is that while players can gain a clue from the hero's fairy on where to go next, the clue is at many points unhelpful, and players can thus spend an eternity trying to figure out where to go next or whom to talk to in order to advance the game, especially when the linearity at one point disappears entirely. On a positive note, the hero can send out his dragon ally to fetch a random item while exploring the game's overworld, and feed the dragon most any item. Still, the game isn't entirely user-friendly.

   If ever an RPG were generic, it's Guardian's Crusade. Players will almost immediately familiarize themselves with its fantasy setting, with a bunch of weird creatures, some interesting backstory about a famous hero, a dark god, annoying sidekicks, and so forth. Not even combat shows much sign of creativity, with the collision system having come straight out of Earthbound (sans instant victories), and Living Toys are basically magic by another name. The ability to send the hero's dragon to fetch items is mildly inventive, though, and Guardian's Crusade did predate Ocarina of Time by about two months in Japan with a fairy as the protagonist's sidekick, but those looking for a fresh RPG should probably look elsewhere.

The tadpoles failed to develop into frogs And that's when Knight realized his science experiment was a failure

   The story follows a random knight and his fairy sidekick, both who eventually stumble upon a baby pink dragon looking for its mother, and at the bidding of a spirit, the hero takes up the task of bringing the baby home. That's pretty much the plot, which isn't any deeper than even the deepest 8-bit RPGs, although there is some decent background involving a famous hero of sorts, and the game does occasionally reveal bits of background on the hero and his fairy. The rancid pacing doesn't really help, though, and all in all, the game would've easily benefited from a better-developed storyline.

   The music sounds fine. The overworld theme in particular is actually quite pleasant to listen to, although the music does become a bit repetitive, and some tunes can occasionally annoy. The sound effects can't quite keep up, though, with a bunch of weird squishing sounds that really don't fit at all. Overall, the aurals are mediocre at best.

   One cannot say the same of the 3-D visuals, which are fairly hideous, containing a heavy degree of blockiness and jaggedness. The fact that the mentioned tadpoles represent all enemies wandering the environs doesn't really help. The color scheme pretty much fits, though, and the FMVs were alright in their time. Still, the game is far from pretty.

   While Guardian's Crusade can have its hard points early on, getting lost for a few hours helped me level up to a point where I could easily take on the toughest bosses, and thus, I had few problems from then onward. That said, depending upon whether or not the player can actually figure his or her way around the game's vast world, completing the game can take anywhere from fifteen to thirty hours to complete.

   More development time, ultimately, would've saved Guardian's Crusade. Its simplistic battles and overall lackluster presentation values easily prevent it from being in the top tier of Playstation RPGs, and it's hardly surprising that the game since has fallen off the mainstream RPG scene. Don't fret, though, because you really didn't miss a whole lot.

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