Guardian (1986 video game)
|Genre(s)||Beat 'em up|
|Arcade system||Toaplan Slap Fight|
|CPU||(2x) Z80 (@ 6 MHz)|
|Sound||(2x) General Instrument AY-3-8910 (@ 1.5 MHz)|
|Display||Raster, 280 x 240 pixels (Horizontal)|
Guardian[a] is a side-scrolling beat 'em up arcade video game developed by Toaplan and published in Japan by Taito and North America by Kitkorp on March 1986. In the game, players assume the role of a robot fighting against a multitude of enemies and bosses across six locations on a futuristic science fiction setting. It is notable for marking the debut of Twin Cobra and Hellfire artist Koetsu Iwabuchi in the video game industry, serving as its graphic designer, as well as for being one of the few titles by Toaplan that has not received any official port to home consoles as of date.
Guardian was considered a financial flop in arcades for Toaplan. As of 2019, the rights to the title is owned by Tatsujin, a company founded in 2017 by former Toaplan member Masahiro Yuge and now-affiliate of Japanese arcade manufacturer exA-Arcadia alongside many other IPs from the defunct studio.
Guardian is a science fiction-themed side-scrolling beat 'em up game reminiscent of Kung-Fu Master, where players assume the role of a robot through six increasingly difficult fictional planets, each with a boss at the end that must be fought before progressing any further as the main objective.
The player controls the robot with a four-way joystick and two attack buttons to punch and kick. The joystick is not only used for crouching, but for jumping as well. Punches and kicks are performed from either a standing, crouching or jumping position. Along the way, there are three types of items that appear as flashing crosses: extra energy stock, invincibility and a long-range laser weapon. On occasions, a red orb spawns on the ground and when picked up, increases the robot's punching power up to three times.
The game hosts hidden bonus secrets to be found, which are crucial for reaching high-scores to obtain extra lives. The title uses a checkpoint system in which a downed single player will start off at the beginning of the checkpoint they managed to reach before dying. Running out of energy will result in losing a live, as well as a penalty of decreasing the robot's power to his original state and once all lives are lost, the game is over unless the players insert more credits into the arcade machine to continue playing. After completing the last stage, the game begins again with the second loop.
Development and release
Guardian's development process and history were recounted between 1990 and 2009 through Japanese publications such as Gamest. Koetsu Iwabuchi designed the game's graphics in his first video game role prior to Twin Cobra and Hellfire. Former Toaplan composer Tatsuya Uemura stated that the title was developed alongside another project intended for the Sega System 1 that was ultimately scrapped. The music was composed by Masahiro Yuge. Guardian was released only in arcades across Japan and North America on March 1986 by Taito and Kitkorp. The game ran on a proprietary arcade board manufactured by Toaplan that was previously implemented with Tiger-Heli, which used two Zilog Z80 clocked at 6 megahertz, as well as two General Instrument AY-3-8910 chips for sound, while its visuals were rendered at 280 x 240 pixels and displayed 512 sprites onscreen. The hardware board for the title would be later re-used with Slap Fight.
Reception and legacy
According to Toaplan, Guardian was a commercial failure in arcades. The official world record for the game is held by Will Czeswinski with 1,058,420 points. In more recent years, the rights to the title and many other IPs from Toaplan are now owned by Tatsujin, a company named after Truxton's Japanese title that was founded in 2017 by former Toaplan employee Masahiro Yuge, who are now affiliated with arcade manufacturer exA-Arcadia.
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