The Guardian Legend

a game by Brøderbund

Platform: NESNES

Genre: Shooting Games

  • Manufacturer: BRODERBUND
  • Machine: Nintendo Entertainment

  • Sound/Music 8

  • Graphics 7
  • Playability 7
  • Overall 7

It's a shoot-'em-up! No, wait - it's an adventure game! Somehow, The Guardian Legend manages to be both.

As the lone guardian of Earth, it's up to you to stop the evil-infested world of Naju from completing its long journey to our planet. This can only be accomplished by activating the ten self-destruct mechanisms that have been hidden deep within Naju's alien labyrinths. Naturally, the guardian's mission is complicated by Naju's inhabitants: hordes of bizarre creatures who don't take kindly to intruders.

Fortunately, the guardian is no pushover: a "highly sophisticated aerobot transformer", it takes the shape of a sleek fighter aircraft during the shoot-'em-up sequences and reverts to a humanoid form when exploring the surface of Naju. You're also equipped with automatic, protective shields and a neat little blaster that never runs out of ammunition. Some of your enemies, however, are nearly immune to your main firepower. For them, you'll need the optional weapons that can be found in the labyrinths or purchased from Naju's friendlier (and more enterprising) residents.

The opening sequence of The Guardian Legend is sure to give a thrill to fans of the "shoot on sight" school of video gaming: a vertically-scrolling alien landscape paves the way for a furious flurry of attackers, and you quite literally "shoot 'em up". It's one of the fastest moving video battles you'll ever experience. But it's not long before things settle down as the guardian sets out on foot to explore Naju in detail. In fact, the majority of playing time is spent walking around; the flying scenes only occur when the guardian enters one of the locked corridors that lead to the "master monsters". This might be a disappointment to some, but the game really takes on some depth during the exploring segments, and that's when The Guardian Legend starts to shine.

This part of the game is noticeably derivative of Sunsoft's Blaster Master, right down to the pyramid-shaped obstacles that block your path or are blown away for points and energy. Fortunately, the similarities end with visual appearances. There are lots of things to discover: hidden power-ups special weapons and locked passage ways - with the keys to open them. You'll also find messages and tips that were left behind by the last surviving Naju native. Apparently, Naju was once a peaceful world, but after it was conquered by evil invaders this poor fellow had set out to activate the self-destruct mechanisms himself. It's an interesting plot twist, the likes of which keep The Guardian Legend above the average level of mindlessness.

The shoot-'em-up sequences aren't bad either. Though the backgrounds tend to get a bit repetitious, the barrage of attacking life forms should distract you from this minor shortcoming. The "master monsters" at the end of each corridor are suitably large and menacing, but they're not unbeatable - the game's difficulty level is well-balanced.

For those of us who may not have invested in a controller with rapid-fire, The Guardian Legend allows you to fire repeatedly simply by holding the "B" button down. I'm surprised this feature isn't more common in the NES library of games. It was a staple of many of the Atari 2600 cartridges of the early '80s. Admittedly, using a rapid-fire controller will make the guardian fire a bit quicker, but this is still a nice touch.

I've been having a lot of fun with this one. A shoot 'cm up, by my definition, is a game that doesn't really require a great deal of brainpower to play. In fact, I've always thought of the genre as kind of a therapeutic way to blow off steam. You know the type: just fry anything that's unfortunate enough to wander anywhere near your character. Don't worry about any kidnapped princesses or magic spells, just fire at will. But this game is a pleasantly advanced variation on the shoot-'em-up theme - it sort of forces you to think about what you're doing and why you're doing it. It's not mindless violence, it's... well, it's conscious violence. You're on an important mission, and the safety of the planet Earth is in your hands. Somehow, having good intentions makes it okay to be a trigger-happy maniac. But not in real life, of course!

The game's best feature is the transformation of the guardian from its humanoid shape to the jet fighter. It's a beautiful, smoothly animated sequence: the guardian spins around slowly, then faster as its insect-type battle armor shifts around, folding and stretching to take the form of a futuristic spacecraft with blue flame erupting from its tail.

Unfortunately, each best feature usually is accompanied by a worst feature, which in this case is Guardian Legend's password system for continuing your game. Don't get me wrong - I appreciate the fact that I don't have to play the whole game from the beginning each time I plug it in, but is it really necessary for the password to be 32 characters long, with a choice of over 60 characters to occupy each space?

The Guardian Legend is basically a rehash of two or three unoriginal game concepts. However, it's not easy to be subtle about incorporating multiple themes into a single game, and the results are pretty good. Try before you buy, if possible, because this one's not for all tastes - but with most new releases retailing in the $40-S60 range, that rule should apply to all games.

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The Guardian Legend Downloads

NES The Guardian Legend download
  • Type: Action
  • Difficulty: Avg.

Long ago an alien race sent a vast planet hurtling straight at the Earth. Loaded inside of this renegade world were a cargo of evil alien lifeforms.

Deep within the planet there exists a self-destruct mechanism that must be reached before it reaches Earth. To complete this mission, you must travel between the labyrinths below the surface of the planet and warp to deeper mazes via your star ship. It's up to you to protect the Earth and become the Guardian Legend!

People says:

6

I like Guardian Legend as a shooter that dishes up a little more than blast-em-up booms and bangs. Including some action/adventure elements, even if the second half of the game is slightly average, helps elevate the whole title to a much higher level. A good follow-up for Zanac fans.

5

Guardian Legend is a shoot-em-up Blaster Master clone that is only average at best. The verticle scrolling flying sequences add variety to an otherwise non-spectacular game. Nothing real original here, but Zanac fans should enjoy it.

6

While it has good intentions, Guardian Legend takes a simple theme and draws it out into a repetitive quest with a shooter in between. There's little challenge or substance in these adventure scenes. This one would have been better as a pure shooter (see the Top Secret code in this issue for a code).

7

Guardian Legend is similar to Zanac but is really two games In one. The maze scenes aren't hard but they are long. The flying sequences are also easy with all of the difficulty wrapped up into the Boss confrontations. The game does do a good job of bringing the two separate play themes together.

reggie posted a review
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