GUARDIAN OF PARADISE / E. Hashimoto / PC

Guardian of Paradise is a freeware Zelda clone, made by E. Hashimoto (creator of previous Awesome Freeware entry Akuji the Demon). Since Mr. Hashimoto hails from Japan, in order to play it you will also need to cruise by Aeon Genesis Translations and grab their English translation patch. It is worth the effort, however, as it is a nicely polished and fun little game.

You play as a warrior-kid looking for a cure for your sick sister. As it happens, the Guardian is said to have the power to cure any ills, but you'll have to collect up the eight spirits of nature in order to make contact with him. So off you go into the wilds, roaming through forests and dungeons and such seeking out these spirits.

The gameplay is most reminiscent of Zelda 3. You are equipped with a sword, and the acquisition of the nature spirits gives you a range of spells to cast. You'll also bump up against many logic puzzles of the style common to the Zelda games - pushing blocks to clear a path and that sort of thing.

The art is simple, but colorful and pleasant. The music is OK, but as with Hashimoto's other game, it is in MIDI format and for some reason plays at a blaring volume no matter what your audio settings are. I guess this isn't a big deal if using powered speakers, but if you are on a laptop with headphones, it is really annoying.

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