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The Guardian Legend

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Reviewed by I-Am-Lander The Guardian Legend is a fast paced action game that was produced by Broderbund. This game was possibly one of the most unknown, but best games to ever come out for the NES. This game had a pretty good storyline with high resolution graphics and excellent sound, well at least for its time. This game was also one of the larger games in terms of side areas and overall length and time it took to complete the game.

Graphics 9 out of 10

The Guardian Legend pushes the NES to its limits for making detailed graphics. The limited colors are used creatively to draw out vibrant and clear characters, making every object in the game easy to see and recognize. Each enemy has its own unique look and animation, and the Guardian herself looks quite detailed (You can even see the lights mounted on her flight armor blink on and off!). Every boss in the game is huge, usually taking up from a quarter to one-third of the screen. The backgrounds are well-rendered too. Each type of environment in Naju has its own distinct look and feel. The forest zones are characterized by thorny alien plant-growth, while the tundra zones create a harsh mood through their lifeless, icy terrain. Other zones include an aquatic zone, a desert zone, and an organic zone. This game also conveys a real sense of speed during the Corridor stages. When the Guardian flies at top speed, the scenery below tears across your TV screen, blurring the terrain and its features. Little slow-down occurs in this game. The ONLY time you would see slowdown is when you reach a room with this Spider, then it multiplies itself very rapidly. That is the only part of the game where it slows down, and no where else. Overall Broderbund did a rather excellent job in the graphics department to say the very least.

Music and Sound 9 out of 10

The music in this game is memorable and at the same time catchy. While some would call the music in this game rather repetitive, in fact it is more like remixes of different music in this game. Most of the music for the shooter mode is monotonous and drones on and on, while the music for the adventure mode generally sounds much better and is more inspiring. No matter what it sounds like, though, the music successfully does its job. Each environment has its own themes, and the music always sets the mood that is proper for the area. Some of the better ones are the opening themes, which makes you feel like that you're going on a space adventure, and the Blue Lander's theme, which has an unique, energetic tone to it. Most of the sounds you'll be hearing are the ones from the Guardian's weapons and the explosions of defeated enemies since you'll be blasting bad guys on a regular basis. Character movement makes no sound, but whenever someone dies (including you), you get to hear a crunching "boom". Many sound effects are standard fare, although each type of special weapon has its own sound effect when fired. Plasma Shots make a fiery "whoosh", while Wave Beams have a resonating ringing effect. Everything can be heard clearly, so you should be able to know when you've picked up an item in the middle of all the blasting and death. Basically overall Broderbund did a tremendous job in this department to say the very least.

Game Play-Fun 10 out of 10

The game play was simply awesome, at first when you pop the cartridge in you will play this game that is very similar to most space shooters. You blast all on screen enemies and fight a huge boss at the end, but this is only half of the game element in the game. The other part was the 2-D side scrolling exploring part, you were to use your gun and blast away at all enemies, but you had to find safety switches in each area before you could move on. The storyline? Well it goes like this: An alien race in a far off galaxy sent a huge world with aliens inside the planet. Inside these aliens had multiplied themselves at a phenomenal rate and were soon to out populate the people on Earth. This flying world that is headed towards Earth is called the "Naju." Your goal was to stop the Naju before it reaches Earth, otherwise the entire civilization would face doom. So you set off in your Jet pack to stop the Naju, but inside are ten safety devices that protects the self destruct activation mode. Your goal is to unlock all the safety devices and then set the self destruct mechanism. During the entire game you are actually inside the planet, instead of traveling through planet to planet so it gives you an idea of how big this thing is. Along the way you find this single room with block devices and you needed a key to unlock these safety devices. Between the side scrolling parts in the game were the space shooting part of the game, you needed to defeat a giant boss at the end of each area to advance and land onto the next area leading to the next safety device. Along the way you pick up a ton of optional weapons whether it be a bullet shield, grenade, or enhancements for your current gun, you had about 12 different optional weapons. These optional weapons runs on power chips which you can collect by destroying various enemies. The control in both parts of the game were dead on accurate. Also, this definitely wasn't a game you beat under 30 minutes. Excellent job overall Broderbund!

Replayability 9 out of 10

The replay value in this game was very good. There were often a lot of areas that does not need to be explored at times throughout the game and that was what made the game a bit more interesting. Also you can go back to the beginning of the game, but not all the time, just in case you might have missed something. Did I mention that this game was big? This game took days off of my hands and I will never regret them, there was just so much to do in this game. This game adds a little puzzle, along with RPG exploring elements, and top view 2-D side scrolling action. With this mix at hand it was hard enough to pass up a game like this one, you also had this password save feature in the game, which is both a good thing and bad thing. First you do not need to rely on batteries and your data will also be saved in the cartridge via the password system, but then again sometimes you can lose the password. There was simply a lot to do in this game to put it at best. If that's not enough, there's even a secret mode that accompanies the main game. When you beat the main game and press the Start Button at the end of the credits, you'll get a password that will let you play through only the Corridor stages. This time, however, the Corridors will be packed with more enemies, ramping up the difficulty level. This mode essentially turns The Guardian Legend into a full shooter game, so adventure fans beware! You can also finish the game in this mode (items will be awarded to you based on your score after each boss), but you won't be able to save your progress. Basically overall Broderbund did a very good job in this department to say the least.

Control 10 out of 10

No problems here. The controls are responsive and precise. The Guardian, unlike many of the other characters back then, can move in all eight cardinal directions. This makes maneuvering her on the screen very smooth and natural. Intuitiveness on an 8-bit controller isn't that big of a deal, but the ease of learning the controls should be mentioned here. The B Button fires your standard energy shots, the A Button fires your special weapon, and the Select Button brings up a convenient status screen where you can view your map and choose a special weapon. Pretty simple, isn't it?

Design 10 out of 10

The game is well designed and executed. It is easy to get into, but at the same time it gives rewarding game play. The Guardian Legend will take some time to complete since you have to explore every room in Naju to find all of the items and to activate all of the switches. This is not something that you can beat in under thirty minutes. A smart mapping feature helps you find your way around the station. As you collect keys, areas that become open to you will be revealed on your map. The locations of Corridors are also revealed on your map. There are eleven Corridors you must go through (ten to activate the self-destruct sequence, one to escape), and there are ten optional Corridors where you can get more equipment. The X and Y coordinates of your position is displayed on the screen, too, making life easier for players who want to mark down locations they will want to come back to later. To record your progress, a password is provided in certain rooms where the Blue Lander is in. The password records everything, from the items you found to the areas you covered to even how many points you have. Passwords can be hell for gamers who have unclear handwriting, but the ones here are great for those unfortunate players. All lower-case characters have a double-dot symbol above them, making them very distinguishable from their upper-case counterparts. With this, you'll never confuse a small "s" with a large "S." In addition to that, when you receive a password, you're given the chance to enter what you've written down. This way, the NES will check to see whether your writing is accurate or not. You have to wonder why no other game developer at that time used these ideas for their password systems. Each of the twelve special weapons that you collect have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some enemies are more vulnerable to a certain type of weapon than to another, for instance. Eleven of these weapons share the same ammo, which takes the form of Power Chips. Another bit of strategy that goes into here is the fact that your regular weapon is also linked to Chips. If you use special weapons too much, your regular guns will be powered down. Managing the amount of special weapons you use to keep your regular guns at full strength will be a significant factor. Most players will probably just use a few of these many weapons, although every one of them is unique and fun to use. There's even a weapon that resembles a double-edged light saber! (Perhaps this is where Mr. Lucas got his idea for Darth Maul??) What is also an important feature is the player-responsiveness in the item system. When you're at full strength, you will seldom find any random power-ups. However, if your Chip power is low, your chances of finding more Chips will drastically increase. Similarly, if your shields are near zero, you can expect to find a shield power-up very soon. There are infinite chances for you to continue. Whenever you die, you can start again from the last place where you received a password. Everything you found will still be with you. Nothing is penalized, except for your score, which will be reset to zero. However, this means that you can increase your shield amount quickly again, since the points required to "level up" are reset along with the score. If you keep dying, you just keep increasing your shields until you overpower your foes with sheer strength. The problems The Guardian Legend has are few and minor. There is something weird about activating mechanical switches by defeating biological bosses, but this is only a game. The Naju crew members also seem to know English (or Japanese if you're playing the import), but again, this is just a game. The only thing that may be considered very unbalanced is that one of the bosses in the early stages (the eyeball guy) can easily fry you if you're not prepared. However, you can always come back for another chance to beat it.

Overall 10 out of 10

This game receives a 10 not because it is perfect, since there is no such thing as a perfect game. The Guardian Legend gets this magical two-digit number because it's a darn good one. This is a well designed game that is very playable, balanced according to player needs, looks great, sounds appropriate, and, most important of all, FUN. If you're interested in adventure or shooter games and if you don't have this game already, you should consider getting it. Even if The Guardian Legend is over ten years old, you won't regret buying an old copy of it. This is my personal favorite for the 8-bit NES - There's a good chance that it'll be yours, too.

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