On this Way Back Wednesday I decided to pick a side scrolling beat’em up that could be enjoyed with some friends no matter what state of mind you may have the time. Tomorrow is St. Patricks day and I hear say that’s a time where you can have a few drinks, and when you come home why not play a co-op game. Although, if you’re a mean drunk then this is not the game for you.
Gaia Crusaders pits a group of playable characters on a mission to restore the pieces of Gaia and return peace. Each of the playable characters can use nature related magic, but some are stronger than others because each person is strong in an element. The elements used are Wind, Fire and Water and depending if you’re strong with one your attack can damage the person around you or every enemy on the screen. There are four buttons to use which are use for jumping, punching, kicking and using your special elemental magic. Whenever you start with a character you get three special elemental magic attacks, and during the game enemies will drop orbs to be picked up and used later. The attacking will piss you off the most, because most kicks and punches are short and require you to be near the enemy. This will make you yell and scream the enemies have more ranged attacks and getting close is difficult at times. You’ll also realize that the enemies keep getting stronger and you don’t upgrade attack power or defense, so they take more hits to die as you take less. The one tactic that seems to work is using the combo system, which can only work if you don’t get hit while performing a combo. Combos aren’t anything difficult, just punching or kicking 4 times or mixing the two up. Most enemies take significant damage this way, but there’s a difficulty with getting a combo started.
The levels are times, but the time seems to reset here and there. I feel like you get times for each screen you’re on and not the whole stage. There are two sections to each level, and at least one has the environment attacking you. Whether it’s falling pieces of rock, steam or knives in the floor, the enemies are invincible but you aren’t. At time you’ll find that enemies will gang up and push you towards a deadly place only to have you hit and stay in a spot where you can’t fully recover and move without taking significant damage. You also move very slowly, so even if you mange to avoid getting hit you still may find yourself taking damage.
Each level also comes with a unique soundtrack that brings back memories of the 1990’s as there is a lot of rap rock and C&C Music Factory type music being played with lyrics. I didn’t recognize any famous bands or singers, but I’m sure they hired underground artists because they were cheaper.
As mentioned, the enemies get harder as they go and their life bar shows it by having multiple layers of colors. The life bar goes as high as red, then blue, green and then you defeat the enemy. Bosses are horrible, because they not only respawn enemies from the stage but do attacks that cannot be dodged and allow you no room to get close for a hit without also receiving a hit. Getting hit a couple of times can take away your whole life gauge and even though you also hit them their life gauge only moves down slightly. During the game there is a cut scene where you are given two additional players to choose from, but they also come with the same attack issues so it’s just another sprite on the screen.
The game took me about an hour to finish and I must have gone through more than $5 worth of continues, so there is no way anyone beat this game in an arcade. The last level is litterally fighting every boss again along with a difficult two part end boss. I enjoyed the game, and it would have probably been more enjoyable with a friend because single player takes forever. Unless you have a way to get unlimited continues or a never ending pocket full of quarters this game is probably not for you.