Monday, November 12, 2012

The Guardian Legend - Best NES game ever?

So I picked this game up for a couple bucks a few weeks ago.  After putting it in and hearing the title screen music, I had a feeling I was about to experience something epic, awesome, and apparently, extremely underrated...
There's also an amazing guitar cover of this theme on the youtube.

The Guardian Legend was released close to the end of the life of the NES, but it also must have had absolutely no advertising. I never heard about it, and even now, not many enthusiasts are aware of it. Well I'm here to make you aware of it. If you are a fan of Metroid , The Legend of Zelda , and top-down shoot'em ups (like Galaga ) I think you'll really enjoy it, as it combines gameplay of them all into one amazing package. Considering the average price for it is $4 at the most, there's really no reason not to own this game if you still have an NES.

In the game, you play as The Guardian: a female cyborg soldier who can transform into a spaceship. She sets out to destroy a space station/planet full of evil alien lifeforms that is hurtling toward Earth. How could a premise like that not be full of win?

Like Metroid and Zelda, there's alot of exploration requiring weapon and item upgrades to access new areas. Each area has a unique feel and theme, as well, such as a forest area and ice cave area. If the title screen theme is any indication, this is all accompanied by one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard in an NES game.

While most NES games like this were pretty unforgiving at making you figure out where to go, the map had a bit of a hint system highlighting where you needed to go next. Kinda like Super Metroid 's map.

It's just really too bad the box art didn't really represent the concept well. Here's the American box art:

Meanwhile, Europe had this box art...

Now that perfectly captures the premise and feeling of the game. I think if more folks saw that on the store shelves, the game may have sold better.

And of course, in Japan...
What can I say? It's Japan. They know exactly what to do when you say "female cyborg."

At first, I can't help but think this is the kind of game that really deserves a sequel or remake, but after seeing what 20 years of being bled dry has done to some of my favorite game franchies, maybe it's better to just enjoy the shiny gem we've discovered rather than try to reinvent it and turn it into something really horrible .

One of the best things about retro collecting can be discovering amazing games you never played and sometimes never even heard of. It can transport you to an age when ideas were new and fresh and everything you loved hadn't been rehashed to hell and back. Also, it can make you forget how old and bitter you've become.

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