The abundant moon energy within the Shamar temple was twisted into this form by Dark Gaia's evil influence. It attacks with a giant hammer imbued with the power of thunder. Since it draws upon lunar power, it will grow weaker if the moon alter is destroyed.
— Directory, Sonic Unleashed
Dark Guardian (ダークガーディアン Dāku Gādian?) is one of Dark Gaia's Minions, the third nighttime boss and the fifth boss overall to be fought in Sonic Unleashed. Following the dispersion of Dark Gaia's essence across the planet, its evil influence came into contact with the large amount of moon energies found inside Shamar's Gaia Temple and twisted it to form Dark Guardian. He serves as the guardian of Shamar's Gaia Temple and is fought after completing Arid Sands Night Act IV: Altar of Oblivion in the PS2/Wii version and Arid Sands Night Act 1 on the PS3/Xbox 360 version.
Dark Guardian looks very much like a heavily armored Deep Nightmare. While not nearly as conspicuous as the Deep Nightmare, Dark Guardian mostly resembles a humanoid lizard, but unlike the Deep Nightmare, he has thin arms with four-fingered hands, no spikes on his back and a straight tail. He possesses a horn similar to the Deep Nightmare, but it is turned over the right side of his face, which is highly detailed with pointed purple and white streaks. He also has small white eyes and long green hair.
Unlike most of Dark Gaia's other minions, Dark Guardian wears non-organic body armor. He has gauntlets on his hands, upper arms, feet and lower legs, with a golden ring around his right wrist. He also carries a large warhammer with a round end that is occasionally surrounded in purple electricity.
The size of Dark Guardian greatly differs between the versions of Sonic Unleashed. In the PS3/Xbox 360 version, Dark Guardian is about as tall as Sonic the Werehog, while in the PS2/Wii version he is almost as tall as a Titan.
Powers and abilities
Dark Guardian uses similar fighting styles and abilities as the Nightmare, but more powerful and brutal. He can both stretch and enlarge his right hand over long distances, and strike with such force that it can leave Sonic the Werehog dazed and immobilized for a short while. He also possesses similar defensive maneuvers, such as jumping back to avoid attacks and guarding against Sonic's assaults with his arms. Dark Guardian is incredibly fast as well, capable at moving at such high speeds that he can almost not be seen.
Besides physical capabilities, Dark Guardian can also use his hammer, which is imbued with the power of thunder, to call forth lightning bolts to strike Sonic from above, unleash a vortex of lightning, or simply smash Sonic with it while charged with electricity. Dark Guardian is also capable of energy projection and can launch powerful purple energy balls. In the PS2/Wii version, he can been shown capable of teleportation.
Dark Guardian's power stems from lunar power, the energies from the moon, which it draws from the Moon Altar. This allows Dark Guardian to summon orbs of energy to give him a power boost, or even rejuvenate himself, healing the damage he had received from Sonic. In the PS3/Xbox 360 version, this ability makes Dark Guardian nearly invincible, as he keeps getting back up after being beaten. However, the Moon Altar is also Dark Guardian's greatest weakness as well, as destroying the altar will cut off Dark Guardian from his power supply, thereby leaving him weak and unable to heal himself.
The strategy to defeat this boss is just to brawl with the Dark Guardian. This battle is like fighting a regular mini-boss (such as a Titan) but tougher considering that the player is unable to use Unleashed Mode. He can extend his arm to punch Sonic. When the player brawls out at him, he will swing his hammer all around causing Sonic to be stunned. Dark Guardian can also do quick steps to step away fast. After a while, he will teleport to the other end of the arena and slam his hammer down, causing lightning to strike various parts of the field, replenishing his Vitality Gauge. If the player dashes over to attack, he will take more damage than he normally would. If he swings his hammer around and knocks you back, this will trigger a quick-time event where Dark Guardian will rush at to attack Sonic, If the player clears the Real-Time Interaction, they will block him and punch him causing a little bit of damage to him. If the player fails, Dark Guardian will hit Sonic into the air. Though, if the player presses the right button, Sonic will dodge the hammer attack and kick Dark Guardian on the back of his neck. If they fail, the hammer will slam down on Sonic. When the player hits the ground, Dark Guardian will charge a blast that packs quite a bit of damage. If the player does the timing right, they will be able to dodge it. If they fail, the player should take massive damage. There is not anymore after that via such simplicity, and with luck, it is possible to beat him before he begins to teleport if one is fast and careful enough.
Xbox 360/PlayStation 3
The strategy of this boss is to destroy the moon altar by pushing boxes to the altar. The arena is between the Sun and Moon altars and you must use them to your advantage. Hit Dark Guardian a couple of times to stun him, and then push crates over to the Moon Altar to destroy it, which in turn causes damage to Dark Guardian. Each time you beat down Dark Guardian, he will keep coming back. There are several obstacles preventing you from doing this: spiked fences randomly pop up and down, blocking your path, and Nightmares (and their deep variants) will spawn and try to hit you or push the crates the other way. Also, Dark Guardian will try to hit you or summon lightning (which is why it's recommended to take him out first). If part of the altar is destroyed and he is still conscious, a quick-time event will occur. Dark Guardian will rush at you and try to punch you. You will be prompted to press a button to block the attack and knock him over. Fail to do this and the Dark Guardian will knock Sonic into the air, where you are prompted to press another button to avoid his hammer attack. If the Guardian hits you, he will knock you to the ground and chargess a blast at you. You are then prompted to press another button to dodge, or you will take massive damage. All you need to is you have to get 3 boxes to the altar. If he's still alive after that, go up to him and use all the power you have and beat him to the ground.
In other media
The Dark Guardian makes an appearance in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-off comics published by Archie Comics. In this media, it is one of the Dark Gaia Creatures that began emerging from the core of Sonic's World during the Shattered World Crisis. It unknown however if there exist more of it. It should be noted that this incarnation of Dark Guardian is colored purple instead of its blue-hued game counterpart. The Dark Guardian first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog #262.
- Dark Guardian is the only boss in Sonic Unleashed to differ in size between each version of the game. In the Xbox 360/PS3 version, the Dark Guardian is about the same size as Sonic the Werehog; while in the Wii/PS2 version, he is almost as big as a Titan.
- Dark Guardian is the only Dark Gaia-based creature that is not based on a mystical being.
- In the Wii/PS2 version of Sonic Unleashed, Dark Guardian is the only nighttime boss not to have a pre-battle cutscene.
- Due to his many similarities with the Nightmare variant, it may be possible that Dark Guardian is simply a highly evolved Nightmare.
- The boss fight in the Wii/PS2 version is easier and faster, while in the Xbox 360/PS3 versions, it takes a while to damage him.