“Button Mashers” were all the rage in the early 90’s. Games like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Golden Axe had the buttons on my controller completely worn down. I remember using a penny to slide back and forth over the buttons in order to tap faster. This ended up wearing grooves in one of my controllers. Sword of the Guardian tries to capture that 90’s magic on the Nintendo Switch.
Sword of the Guardians released on the eShop back in September of last year and on Steam a couple months prior. The game was developed by solo indie developer, Billy Chan. I was actually surprised hearing that this was all created by one developer. It’s actually a pretty meaty game!
As I said, Sword of the Guardians is heavily inspired by the “beat em’ up” games of the past. The game is set in medieval times as you take control of one of three fighters as they go on a journey to try and save their village. There’s no voice acting throughout the game. Everything is spoken through text. Some of the conversations can get long at times, but luckily you can skip through them pretty quickly if your playing a level over again.
Speaking of levels. There are over 10 levels and each take around 15-20 minutes to complete, usually with a boss at the end. You have 3 lives to complete each level with no saving in between. That was kind of a downer for me. When I died, it was usually at the end of the level with one of the bosses. So, I had already gone through 15-20 minutes and had to start it all over. I understand that that’s how games were back in the 90’s, but we have a lot more memory in our devices now.
Single player gameplay is actually pretty fun. I imagine couch co-op would be a riot, but I really enjoyed playing by my handsome self. The controls are pretty basic. You have an attack button, a jump button, dodge, and a button to throw items. There’s also a special move that each of the three characters can do. It’s definitely a button masher for sure. There’s a couple combo attacks, but most of the time I was just using the standard attack.
I was on the fence the entire time while playing Sword of the Guardian. I understand that the game is paying homage to games of the past, but let’s be honest. Those games were frustrating and down right horrible at times! There’s so much that could have made this game a must-have. I would have loved to have seen stuff like character growth. It gets boring not being able to upgrade or even have a shop to buy new weapons or armor. I would have liked to have seen a better combo system. There are so many buttons that could’ve been used on the Switch. Last, but not least, the ability to save more, but I already mentioned that.
Sword of the Guardian isn’t a bad game by any means. The visuals are really cool (they have a Mortal Kombat vibe to them) and the soundtrack is excellent. I really enjoyed the storyline too. It’s absolutely crazy that all this was created by one person! Even with all that it’s missing, I still kept going back to it. I actually wanted to finish the game. That says a lot. Sometimes it’s fun just mindlessly smashing buttons and kicking ass. Sword of the Guardian may not bring a whole lot that’s new to the genre, but it has its charm. It’s like vanilla ice cream. It’s ok on its own, but you know that it could be a whole lot better with some extras on top. (That made sense right?)