Guardian Legend

Review Date: April 12, 2021

Release Date: April 1, 1989

Platform: NES

Publisher: Broderbund

Genre: Shooter/Adventure Hybrid

Anecdotes: Even in the NES era, during the prime years of my gaming, there were still games I had never played. There were even games I had never even heard of. Nobody knew this game at all back in the late 80s and early 90s. I found out about the game as I was researching all types of games trying to choose the 365 games that would go on my list. It looked interesting, so it went on the list.

Description: Guardian Legend bounces back and forth between being a shooter and an adventure. To put in another way, it’s Legend of Zelda meets Gradius. Players must guide a humanoid/spaceship through various labyrinths looking for exits to the corridors. In the corridors, players control a ship Gradius style, but vertically. It should be noted that the English version of the game just calls her The Guardian, but the Japanese version calls her Miria. I will be calling her Miria throughout the review.


-While it’s easy for players to think that they control Miria in the labyrinths and she just jumps into a ship for the shooter portions, that would be incorrect. This game goes one step cooler with that. In the shooter corridors, Miria IS the ship. That’s right, she’s a transformer! She can turn herself into a ship and fight enemies that way, too.

-The game has a nice mapping system. While there is a map on the menu screen, the game nicely has the coordinates of every room right there on the screen at all times. This makes it really easy to find and references particular rooms. As is typical in gaming, though, the Y axis is backwards. The numbers are supposed to increase going up, not down.


-The shooting segments are unbelievable and that’s not a good thing. The screen gets absolutely LOADED with enemies and projectiles, to the point where both flickering and slowdown occur. Miria will be getting worked over from all sides. The good news is that enemies move in predictable patterns, but even then, there are so many of them that the only ways to avoid getting hit are perfect timing or smart positioning, and even that may not be good enough. I got to corridor 11 and I’ve been playing for days. The shooting sections are just ridiculous.

More Screenshots:

Miria shoots at a bunch of things that look like eyeballs.
In some rooms, an alarm goes off and the room locks Miria in. It’s Boss Time!
The gate is open; Miria dives in and turns into a spaceship.
Here’s a sampling of the shooter corridors, and believe me, they get much worse.
Area 1’s boss gave me a bit of trouble, but on the 1,582,360th try, I beat it with no health left.
Ten of those characters in the password use a symbol that doesn’t exist in English. What language could this be?
Why do all of these games have to have a crab boss?

Final Opinion: There’s a lot to like about this game, but there’s also a lot to hate. While the adventure portions are fun and feature a map, the shooter segments are ridiculously hard. I can’t decide if this game is good or bad yet, so I’m scoring it up the middle.

Grade: C (early game only)

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