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|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Guardian's Crusade, known in Japan as Knight & Baby (ナイトアンドベイビー Naito ando Beibī), is a role-playing video game developed by Tamsoft and released for the PlayStation by Activision in 1999. The gameplay is that of a standard turn based role playing game with non-random encounters. While intended for an adult audience as well, the game was something of an introduction to RPGs for children. The game did not enjoy commercial success, though it still maintains a cult following.
The player controls a young messenger boy named Knight who is joined by his best friend, a fairy girl named Nehani. While running a routine errand for the mayor, the two stumble upon a small pink monster they later name "Baby". Soon after meeting the creature, Knight has a vision of a spirit who tells him to deliver Baby to an ancient monument called "God's Tower" in order to find its mother. After a few minor setbacks (and the discovery of the mysterious Living Toys, magical dolls that come to life and assist you in battle) the group sets off on its journey.
Along the way, the group runs into several other colorful groups of characters, each of whom are intent on "saving the world" in their own radically different way. The first enigmatic Artema Cult, a network of churches who believe their leader Artema to be a messiah. Soon after the group encounters the pair of Darkbeat, a mercenary who fancies himself "The Chosen One" and has vowed revenge against a man named Karmine, and his sister Ibkee, a kind-hearted dinosaur-like creature who runs an orphanage. The third group of would-be heroes is led by Kalkanor, a pompous royal knight on a journey to collect magic stones in order to imprison a vicious titan called "Xizan".
Though they initially seem unrelated, the paths of these different groups (including your own) gradually become more and more intertwined as the quest goes on, climaxing in the rise of an evil that threatens the entire world. As the future looks more and more bleak, it is up to Knight, Baby, Nehani, and their friends to save the Earth from certain doom.
The young man Knight lives with his fairy friend Nehani in the town of Orgo. The Mayor of Orgo gives Knight a task of taking a letter to the nearby town of San Claria. During his return journey, Knight is gifted the creature named Baby in a blinding flash of light. A mysterious voice tells the boy to take this Baby to the God's Tower, his home. Knight takes the creature to the mayor who tells him to dispose of it in a local cave. Later, Knight has remorse for abandoning the infant, and decides to rescue him and deliver him to God's Tower. After a harrowing escape from monsters in the cave, the trio head out toward God's Tower. They eventually meet a man named Darkbeat, and his sister Ibkee. Ibkee has been cursed by a man named Karmine, and Darkbeat has been seeking him for vengeance.
Furthering their adventure with a water-bug named Chester, the group eventually meet a knight named Kalkanor, his sorceress companion Gwinladin and a mysterious wizard Ramal. Kalkanor believes he is on a divine mission to defeat several evil monsters, he and Knight cross paths many times assisting one another. Knight also meets the mysterious Artemia Cult, who revel in manipulating the populace. Eventually the group arrives at God's Tower, where they encounter a man named Karmine. Karmine is revealed to be the leader of the Artemia Cult, and is planning to resurrect the evil god Xizan. Kalkanor arrives, and Ramal reveals he has been working for Karmine the whole time. Karmine had manipulated Kalkanor into killing the Divine Beasts to weaken the seal on Xizan. Karmine betrays Ramal, and transform him into a dragon before beginning his ascent of the tower. Kalkanor is not strong enough to defeat it, thus it falls to Knight. After the battle, Kalkanor asks Knight to face Karmine and save the world. Knight and Baby begin to climb the tower. Upon arriving at the top, they meet Karmine as well as Darkbeat and Ibkee. Karmine had just finished killing the final beast, Baby's mother. Darkbeat attempts to fight Karmine, but he is too powerful. Karmine faces off against Knight, intent on killing Baby and summoning Xizan. Killing Baby, Karmine receives a crystal and summons Xizan. Knight battles Karmine and wins. Celestia, Baby's mother revives Baby and the God's Tower begins to collapse. Baby has Knight ride him and Baby begins to fly from the Tower. In a flash of light the group is blown off course.
Awakening in Picard, the group meet Darkbeat and Ibkee again. They are told of a legendary warrior who will do battle with Xizan. Knight is given the location of several pieces of legendary armor. Upon retrieval, Knight is told that he is the legendary hero, and he faces off against Darwin the ancient legendary hero. Upon his victory Knight is blessed with the legendary armor and the power to defeat Xizan. The group head for the final confrontation. However they are accosted by Karmine once again. However he is distracted by Darkbeat, who successfully seeks his vengeance.
Xizan towers over the group, but after a fierce battle, Baby begins to reseal Xizan. However, Xizan uses a powerful attack that severally weakens the group. Nehani confesses her love for Knight before sacrificing herself to weaken Xizan. Attacking his weakened form, the duo are able to defeat Xizan. Afterwards, Nehani has been revived as a normal person. She and Knight settle down in Orgo with Baby. The game ends with a sepia tone picture of the three of them, happy.
From a technical standpoint and in terms of its contribution to the development of the RPG genre, Guardian's Crusade is noteworthy for several reasons.
First, the game featured a seamless graphical transition between the overworld, towns, and flight, which all utilized the same graphical engine and scale. Many other RPGs before and since have relied on miniature, less detailed representations of towns when a player is exploring the overworld (e.g. the Final Fantasy games on the original PlayStation) or flying (e.g. Dragon Quest VIII). This feature helped to make the Guardian's Crusade world more immersive and is an impressive accomplishment given the technical limitations of the PlayStation console.
Second, the game implemented a system that allowed players to choose whether or not to engage in battles. Enemies on the overworld and in dungeons were represented by different sized ghosts which would wander the landscape and chase after the player, but could be avoided through speed or stealth. Large aggressive pink ghosts represented enemy monsters with higher levels than the player. Enemies at a lower level were represented by smaller white ghosts that would actually flee from the player. This mechanic provided a visual indicator of how powerful the player character was becoming.
Finally, the game incorporated a virtual pet.
Along the way, Knight encounters Living Toys (abbreviated LT on the battle menu), mystical clockwork toys that can move on their own and aid Knight, Baby, and Nehani in battle with certain skills. These Living Toys were created many years ago by Mr. Zeppetto, whose home is found off the coast of the left-hand continent south of Santa Claria and north of Den Heldar. Throughout the game, Living Toys can be found in various chests around the world. Each has its own unique moves or abilities.
Summoning a Living Toy drains Knight's psychic points (PP), so once his PP is drained completely he can't summon them at all.
Classification of Living Toys
Living Toys can be classified according to their functions:
Attackers – Directly inflict damage upon an enemy in combat.
Helpers – Add extra power to your attacks, put the enemy to sleep, or help you defend against certain attacks.
Healers – Restore lost HP to one or more party members.
Miscellaneous – Are either useful outside of combat (like Mapster, who allows you to view the world map while outdoors in addition to attacking enemies in combat) or simply don't fit into another category.
Living Toy Icons
Each Living Toy is associated with one of three icons depending on how it is summoned in combat:
Continuous (boxes) – Will stay by your side until the battle ends or it gets attacked enough times.
Multiple use (↵) – Can be used multiple times in the same battle but must be re-summoned each time.
Single use (*) – Can only be used once per battle.
Guardian's Crusade was developed by Tamsoft and was originally released in Japan on September 23, 1998 under the title Knight and Baby. The game picked up for publication outside Japan by Activision shortly after its launch. Originally titled Guardian Legends, the localized version was eventually changed to Guardian's Crusade because of a similarly-named game published by Brøderbund.
According to the game's producer and associate producer, very few changes were made between the Japanese and North American versions of the game. These differences are mostly found in the intro and title screens, including different music for the opening cinema. One prominent removal includes a Living Toy called "Rust Bucket". This toy cast a spell called "Russian Roulette", in which he pointed a gun randomly at one of any of the characters in the battle, then fired. These changes are not present in the European release. The creators took particular pride in the game's Japanese writing and its transition to its English counterpart. "When games are generally translated, the feeling and true meaning of the text in its original form gets lost very easily. We did not want that to happen in Guardian's Crusade," explained the producers. "The original spirit of the story and the humor was kept intact, and since this is not something that is easy to achieve, we are very proud of this accomplishment."
- IGN staff (November 10, 1998). "Activision Breeds Pet RPG". IGN. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- IGN staff (November 17, 1998). "Activision's RPG Switcheroo". IGN. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- Perry, Douglas (January 15, 1999). "An Interview With the Makers of Guardian's Crusade". IGN. Retrieved January 25, 2013.