Prepare yourselves: it’s time for the Retro Game Of The Week!
Everyone knows the classic NES titles like Super Mario Bros, Contra, Legend of Zelda, and Lifeforce. Each game is a representation of the best their respective genre has to offer, and spawned countless sequels and spin-offs. Through the rapid fire pace of NES game releases in the late 1980’s however, some games slipped through the cracks of gamer’s awareness. In 1989, Broderbund Software (who had been developing computer games for several years before the NES’s US release) dropped a genre bending curiosity titled “Guardian Legend” onto North American NES owners.
Blending top-down adventure a la Legend of Zelda and vertical shooting levels, Guardian Legend was an epic undertaking for Broderbund to fit onto an NES cart. The game tasked players with destroying an evil, alien infested asteroid on a collision course with Earth by disabling the asteroids safety mechanisms causing it to explode. Gamers take control of a transforming female robot who can dish out pain on the ground or turn into a fighter jet to take to the skies. Yeah, freaking awesome.
As gamers search on the ground for safety mechanisms to disable, varied enemies and traps abound to slow your progress. Power-ups are scattered about to aid you in your quest, and additional weapons to dispatch foes and open doors to new areas. Boss battles take place in the air, and Guardian Legend contains some of the best shooting levels from the 8-bit era and beyond. The game can easily compete with other big name vertical shooters from the day such as 1942 and Juno First.
Guardian Legend is a big game too, with a sadly complicated password system to put you back in the action each time. In short, the game never deserved to be as ignored as it was during it’s initial release and following years. It didn’t help matters that Electronic Gaming Monthly and Nintendo Power gave only mediocre reviews, citing the game mostly for the password system and repetitive shooter levels. I honestly believe the game was just far ahead of it’s time, genre-bending and engrossing as it was.
The retro gaming scene has given new life to Guardian Legend however, with gamers now praising it for it’s originality and fresh take on adventure gaming. Copies tend to run at elevated prices, especially for complete in box, due to the game’s popularity and relatively low initial sales. NES fans and retro gamers in general owe it to themselves to pick up this classic, and cherish a very unique adventure game that isn’t afraid to throw genre’s in a blender.