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iPhone  header logo

Guardian Cross

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Too bored to be cross

Product: Guardian Cross | Publisher: Square Enix | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card battler, RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Guardian Cross iPhone, thumbnail 1
Playing cards aren't remotely threatening. Try to wield a set in a fight and you'll invariably come off worst - unless you're going down the death by a thousand paper cuts route. And your opponent is tied down.

Guardian Cross might enable you to summon great god-like mythical beasts with your deck of cards, but it's about as thrilling and involving as a game of solitaire.

Cards on the tablet

What we have here is a basic RPG plot and universe with all the free-roaming and battle elements stripped out and replaced with a rudimentary game of top trumps, a sizeable social element, and a freemium payment model.

Guardian Cross suffers from a critical lack of depth. It pays lip service to RPG tropes without backing them up with real meat.

Take the battle system, for instance. It's the core of the game, but it's wholly uninvolving. The idea is to pitch your growing collection of monster cards against your opponent's, but you can't alter the order or decide on the attacks. You can just watch as battle unfolds.

Results are virtually predetermined, then. If you have sufficient numbers and strong enough cards, you'll prosper. Simple.

Dodgy hand

Sourcing your cards is slightly more involving. But only slightly. It takes the form of a basic hunting game, as you touch your iOS device's screen to move a rifle sight around. Once you spot a monster silhouette, you aim and fire.

The monster will usually run away for a bit, which leads to a mildly fun chase. But that's it. You can't identify your targets beforehand, which removes a layer of selection and strategy, and there's no art to the shooting (headshots don't cause more damage, for example).

Once you've nailed your target you can introduce it to the main pack in the game's garish and clunky menu system, which looks like it came straight from a third-rate '90s RPG (as does the overall resolution, if you're playing it on a new iPad). There's a button here that gives you the optimal setup, removing a possible source of strategy.


You can play through Guardian Cross without spending any money, but as with any freemium game you'll find yourself waiting around for assorted timers to tick down before you can play.

You'll also find access to rarer, more powerful cards restricted. This means that you can forget competing in the multiplayer coliseum challenges - which are just as uninvolving as the single-player battles, with no threat of losing cards and no added strategy.

Card battlers are a pretty niche sub-genre, but all they need to appeal to a broader audience is an involving battle system and a compelling world. Guardian Cross doesn't manage either, so it's completely ill-equipped to take on the better iOS RPGs.

It's like bringing a playing card to a knife fight.
Guardian Cross
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 26 September 2012
Guardian Cross presents itself like a strategic card battler mixed with a classic JRPG, but it lacks any of the depth necessary to pull such a thing off
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