The Guardian Legend
A retro review! I loved this game as a child even though I am almost certain that no one else has played or heard of it. You can probably thank the horrid box art for its obscurity (US box vs Japanese box)…but anyway, the story in a nutshell: You are Alyssa guardian of Earth, a robot chick in a bikini who happens to possess the ability to transform into a spaceship. The deathst…err an alien world by the name of Naju is heading straight for Earth and it is up to you to destroy the 10 seals, needed to activate the self-destruct mechanism.
The Guardian Legend is divided into two sections: The labyrinth, a vertical scrolling shoot-em-up and the corridors, an overhead action/adventure type area. As you explore the labyrinth you will come across the corridors. When you enter one, Alyssa transforms into a spaceship and the game goes into shmup mode. Naju itself is divided into five different zones: water, biological, crystal, organic and wasteland. The Guardian Legend is one of the earliest examples of a multi-genre game.
Labyrinth stageThe labyrinth sections are very similar to The Legend in Zelda. It’s an overhead map with a grid based zoning system. The gameplay is exploration based: Every time a corridor bosses is beaten, you receive a key that can be used to unlock various areas on the map. You must search for the next corridor to destroy the next seal.
The corridor sections look and feel very similar to Zanac, which makes sense considering that it was made two years earlier by the same company, Compile. I guess in a sense, The Guardian Legend is its spiritual successor. There are a total of 21 corridors in the game, though only 1 through 10 and 21 are required. The rest are optional for the sake of point/powerup farming and completionism.
The graphics are decent. I wouldn’t say that they are as stylish as say, Mario 3 or Battletoads, but the sprites are nice looking, large and well animated (the gunship transformation in particular). Each zone has a distinct look appropriate to its theme. The biological area for example, is filled with fauna in plant life set against a green background, whereas the organic zones have creepy vein/flesh looking things. The corridors are colorful and detailed. The labyrinth areas could have used more detail. there are many rooms that seem to be little more than a couple of walls and a floor.
There are collectible power chips available throughout the game. You can obtain them from defeating enemies, they are also just sort of scattered around. The chips serve several purposes: to use as currency, to upgrade existing weapons, to increase your lifebar, and as ammunition for the powerful secondary weapons. Speaking of which, there are a total of 13 weapons available in the game, 11 of which can be powered up. You have eve
like most NES games The Guardian legend uses a password system to save progress. I know that this gripe isn’t relevant anymore, given that every plays it on an emulator but it was a pain in the ass way back in the day. Geeze, they are the worst passwords. Ever. This is an example that will get you to level 9:
073z !lN4 dLaZ g1qK jfb0 Xpur Y5e7 bD?B
Back on track: It’s a great game. Very interesting concept, plays well, great music, great appearance. If you are into older titles, pick this one up if you can find it somewhere.