The beat'em-up genre has been mentioned before in the PK27, so it stands to reason that gritty tales of urban decay and revenge appealed to a dumb, cornfed punk from Iowa, and indeed they did, though having said that, there was plenty of room -in my mind!- for developers to expand upon the notion of what characterized a beat'em-up without sacrificing the core theme: justice (or, for those willing to get picky, vengeance) in a messy world.
Game No. 20 is but one example of how the genre augmented itself in an effort to stay hip, while other titles such as Streets of Rage 2 demonstrated that even dilapidated cityscapes could still appeal to jaded thirteen-year-old gamers, if they were produced with enough flair,* though flair itself is scarcely capable of carrying a game all on its own (take Sega's rendition of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, for example).
Contrary to popular opinion, though, the fact is that assaulting nearly-limitless volleys of palette-swapped baddies does become tiresome, no matter how many drumsticks* there are to consume, pipes to wield, and scantily-clad femme fatales to slap around.***
How do you improve upon what's been done a thousand times over? I mean, one can polish a penny all they want, but at the end of the day, it's still a goddamn penny, and it's not as if Honest Abe will miraculously begin sportin' a fedora just because you want him to be as cool as your father, correct?
Well, some developers opted to venture into (pseudo) 3D territory, and that proved to be a nearly-total bust. Others, such as a team of enterprising ex-Konami employees known collectively as Treasure, spent less time pushing the envelope graphically, and more on incorporating aspects of another burgeoning genre, the RPG -experience points, fantasy setting, zany characters, convoluted story, multiple endings, magic spells, semi-autonomous companion, whimsically Japanese soundtrack- and applying them to the tried-and-true beat'em-up formula.
The result? Guardian Heroes (
* And believe you me, or at least, believe you someone else; I know about flair. I'm Flair Guy!
** Insert random food here: apples, ice cream, pork chops, turkey dinners, baby food, PCP, etc.
*** Relax, ladies! You know I'm joking, right? Women constitute roughly 82 (81.532) percent of Psychedelic Kimchi's readership, and I wouldn't dare bite -off- the hand that feeds.