The Guardian Legend Retro Review (NES)

Real Talk By: The Wizard

If you’ve played through a lot of the NES library and are looking for something different, today we will be reviewing The Guardian Legend. This is somewhat of a hybrid developed by Compile way back in 1988. It takes 2 great genres, Action RPG and SHMUP, and attempts to meld them together to create one great game. For those unfamiliar with Compile they made some pretty great games before they went under, and have earned their place forever in the history of classic gaming. Some of the games they developed like the Aleste series (MUSHA), Blazing Lazers, and Golvellius: The Valley of Doom are among the best games on their respective consoles. Before we get started with the review I will give you a paste of the wiki page that describes the plot really well.
“In The Guardian Legend, the player controls the gynoid guardian of Earth, a “highly sophisticated aerobot transformer”. The player’s mission is to infiltrate Naju, a large planet-like object which aliens sent hurtling towards the Earth.[note 2] While inside, the player must activate ten safety devices in order to initialize Naju’s self-destruct mechanism and destroy the alien world before it reaches Earth. Five hostile tribes of alien lifeforms are vying for control of territories within Naju, and the player needs to fight through them to successfully activate the switches and escape”.

Flashy gameplay indeed.

The gameplay in The Guardian Legend revolves around 2 main types of stages. You have your spaceship shooter (SHMUP) stages, and your Action RPG Zelda style stages. Basically you run around an open world and discover the shooter stages, which to Zelda fans would be the equivalent of the dungeons. So if that is something that sounds cool to you keep reading. You basically infiltrate these shooter stages after discovering them to activate safety devices. After all are activated you basically destroy the planet and destroy the alien race residing on it, thus saving the universe.

The first thing I noticed when playing GL is that the SHMUP stages look pretty good. They are not on par with some of the best shooters on the NES, but they look good enough that they don’t come off as ugly or rushed. The bosses are large, somewhat difficult, and pretty fun to fight. However, the second thing I did notice is that there is a lot of flashing and slowdown. So much in fact that the game was almost unplayable in some parts. Overall though the SHMUP stages are pretty solid and a good time.

As far as the overworld is concerned I was not nearly as impressed. The character design looks pretty decent but I felt like the main character was too large, and the enemies were boring. There are a lot of weapons, I will give the game that, but the world is barren and unappealing. Everything looks the same, and the world design has no charm or originality. In all honesty I will just cut through the chase. The over world ruined the experience for me.

The music in GL like the rest of the game so far, is good but not great. The music is neither catchy, or hard on the ears. I would not find myself thinking of the musical score when not playing, like I do in other games like Mega Man or Ninja Gaiden.

Cool weapon options.

I wish there was more to say about Guardian Legend, but it’s a pretty simple game. There’s no great story, puzzles, or amazing memorable bosses. If it was terrible I could say more, but it’s not. It just leaves you wanting more. Guardian Legend comes off as a jack of all trades, master of none. I find it incredibly hard to recommend this game to anyone reading this review. Odds are if you are reading this you have a NES and are familiar with a lot of the greats and looking for your next fix. Guardian Legend is not going to bring to the table what you desire. If you absolutely must play a great SHMUP/Action RPG hybrid play Kid Icarus if you haven’t already, or Spellcaster on Sega Master System.

Guardian Legend sells for around $15.00 on eBay, and a real copy is the only legal means to play this game. Just keep playing the great titles you own and pick a game up that does either the SHMUP or Action RPG genre justice. I would highly recommend GunNac, 1943, Iron Tank, Life Force, Faxanadu, Battle of Olympus, Crystalis, or Gargoyle’s Quest II. Some of these titles are even cheaper than The guardian Legend, and the ones that are not are worth saving the extra cash for. Do yourself a favor and spend more on something you will come back to and play for longer than one afternoon.

The Guardian Legend Gets


3 Out of 5

What’s Legit?

+The SHMUP stages are decent

+Lots of different weapons

What’s Perpetrating?

-Bland over-world

-Lots of flashing and slowdown

#GuardianLegend @PlayLegit



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