The Guardian Legend
Box Shot
The Guardian Legend
Platform: NES
Publisher: Broderbund
Designer: Compile
Genre: Adventure/Shoot-em-up
Players: 1
Published Date 1989
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

In order to provide originality into various games, developers often combine two game genres to make a game. This makes sense with some kinds of games (i.e. combining RPG and action to make Castlevania 2) but others may seem a bit more outlandish. The Guardian Legend gives you a Zelda-type overhead exploration game but replaces the puzzlish labyrinths with overhead shooting scenes a la Life Force. Different, yes. But fun? Hell yeah!

As it happens, this really big planet or something called Naju is going to destroy Earth. The Guardian (who is apparently female, given the fact that she's wearing a bikini) is out to destroy this planet. Only the Guardian isn't really human...she has the power to turn into a spaceship and fly through various corridors found throughout the planet. Once you arrive on the planet, you'll get a message from a former inhabitant who had the same goals as you. From here you learn about as self-destruct mechanism that can be the end of your problems. All throughout the game you'll find various hints and tips in various terminals.

At first you start with only a wimpy little single shot blaster (the same weapons that are used in the walking scenes are the same as the ones during the flying.) However, by finding upgrades, you can shoot much faster, and find other weapons that could prove more efficient. You also find chips, which power pretty much everything. Special weapons use up these chips...but the intensity of your main weapon also depends on the amount of chips you have, so be sure to conserve. You can only hold 50 chips at the beginning of the game, but soon you can upgrade your maximum and make your normal blaster into a powerful, wide-range killing machine. Also, you get small life upgrades when you attain certain high score values.

During the walking scenes, the key here is exploration and item-finding...bosses and power-ups lie throughout the vast maze of each area. There is a main hub area that breaks off into other sublevels. Once one sublevel is beaten, you are given a key to move onto the next one. The only way to find a key is to beat the main corridor (flying scene) in a sublevel. There are also other corridors that exist solely to find power-ups and new weapons. These flying and shooting scenes can be really difficult, but as long as you've fully explored and picked up all the life-upgrades, chips, and other weapons, you should have enough firepower to make it to the end and beat the boss. After beating all of the areas, you go onto the final confrontation with the last boss.

Since this game will probably take more than one sitting to complete, you've got a password system. At the restart point (places where you go back to when you die) this little round blob thing (familiar if you've ever played Golvellius for the Sega Master System) will issue a password that will save your progress, items and score. The only problem with this is that each password is 32 characters long, out of both an uppercase and lowercase alphabets, plus numbers and symbols! It's very easy to accidentally mess up one character on the code and have to start way back. At least there's an in-game option that allows you to reenter the password to see if you got it right...but if you're in a rush you won't have time for it.

The graphics in the game aren't too shabby...the overhead shooting scenes look rather nice. The exploration scenes aren't bad either, but the dark colors tend to be hard on the eyes after a while. Still, it is nicely desolate and lonely, like it should be. The music, on a whole, is excellent. The Area 0 (main hub) song will probably stay lodged in your head for awhile, and the main theme, used in the opening battle, is great as well. Later in the game, hearing the same tunes over and over (especially in the flying scenes) is a bit repetetive. The game controls very nicely, allowing you to move and fire in eight directions (although you can't face diaganolly and fire.) Also, the addition to fire backwards would've been a nice addition, as most bosses chase you and most battles consist of run, turn n' blast, run some more, etc. That may be asking for too much though.

The Guardian Legend is a tough yet engrossing game. This is one of those titles you can sit down with for several evenings, play straight for several hours, and put it back on the shelf when you're finished, being thoroughly satisfied. Even though it lacks replay value, the first time through is tough enough to keep you going, and will prove to be a really fun time.