FORGET GEARS OF WAR. Forget Halo. The best reason to love this console generation is the wealth of phenomenally restored classic games available at our fingertips. Case in point: Sega's resurrection of Guardian Heroes.
During its initial release in 1996, Guardian Heroes was lauded for its brilliant blend of side-scrolling, beat-'em-up action, deep controls, and light role-playing game mechanics. Think Golden Axe meets Street Fighter with a hint of Final Fantasy thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, Guardian Heroes was a Sega Saturn game, and that console's ignominious death ensured that few would get a chance to play it.
Thanks to the magic of the Xbox Live Arcade, however, Sega has seen fit to revive the game with a nice swath of extras to complement the already incredibly deep feature set of the original. Most notable are the new graphics. It was guaranteed that the new Guardian Heroes would be in high-definition, but I'm happy to note that Sega added a sort of sketchy filter to the sprites that almost entirely removes any of the expected pixelation we see in remastered games.
Before any of you Saturn purists start to scoff, the game also includes original graphics and gameplay modes that mimic the title's earlier form. But whichever mode you choose to play the game in, the real draw is the baffling depth present in this title: Beat-'em-ups are largely short, arcade-style affairs, but by offering players multiple routes through the game's 30 stages, plus an immense amount of characters, artwork, and unlockable extras, Guardian Heroes developer Treasure (of Gunstar Heroes fame) offers a very compelling argument for replaying this game over and over.
That's not even the best part—Guardian Heroes XBLA also offers online co-op and a versus mode for up to 12 simultaneous players. For $10, you really can't do much better.