Jul '24 Monthly Game Club - The Guardian Legend

July 2024’s Monthly Game Club is: The Guardian Legend developed by Irem for the Nintendo Entertainment System, originally released in Japan for the Famicom in 1988. Known in Japan as Guardic Gaiden.

Nominated by @Chekhonte, here’s what they had to say about it:

I don’t think a lot of people played it. It’s a shmup with a zelda like overworld and RPG elements. It’s also not that long.

Sick Famicom cart art:
legend of guardian famicom

gua05
gua01

Additional reference:

Have you played The Guardian Legend before? Any thoughts or reflections? Joining in on this game?

14 Likes

Oh man, I love this game. I played it for the first time last year as part of the “play a new game for every year you’ve been alive” thread. Here’s what I had to say last year (spoilered out of an abundance of caution):

This game’s great! The mandatory one hour is a good idea, because I almost stopped this one at the first level. It’s a difficult first level! However, once you get past that, and start building up your character and getting subweapons, it’s really fun. I think it’s super cool that you’re digging down into this dying planet, getting deeper and deeper from the ocean to the weird guts at the core, so you can kill the demonic aliens and destroy the planet. It feels like a big, weird journey.

One other thing I really like, and this will sound simple but trust me, is that the some of the shooting stages scroll fast. Like “this is out of control” fast. It’s a really exciting way to make a shooting stage feel tense.

The game’s password system is pretty unforgiving, so I just save stated my way through the whole thing and had a great time. I feel like I still got a pretty satisfying challenge.

I love that you get a carefully animated transformation sequence every time she turns into the space plane.

I will happily play this again. I’ll do my best to get to it before the month runs out.

5 Likes

I played through this a few years back. My favorite thing about it is that the main character has diagonal walking animations. My least favorite part are the shmup stages, which felt too long and brutal for my taste.

3 Likes

Yay! I’m so glad that game was picked. I haven’t played it in years and it’s one of my favorite nes games. I’m going to spend a decade just choosing a shader like always.

Don’t be afraid to slow it down in you emulator or using the NES Advatage if you find a stage too difficult. It’s not a particularly hard shmup. I typically only die a few times a play through.

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great game yeah

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YEAH BUDDY. I fully recommend both not spending money and using save states/emulator tricks to make for less friction (I maintain that it still counts for older games; you still walk away with an understanding of them and you’ll get to see the credits without making a part-time job of it), but, if you really want to go analog book club and just feel of it for a bit, I’d also note that this one can still be easily had for under $20 in the US

image

In any case, love this game and this pick

8 Likes

There’s 2 copies in the game store down the street from my house even. I think about picking them up to give out like I used to do with Nier but I never run into people who have a nes anymore.

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(edit, no purple texts. mea culpa)

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Also, here’s the manual. Not a great deal in it, but I still think it is always fun to read through these

…the artwork for the enemies is neat. Turns out there’s a whole lot of eyeball stuff going on.

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Got to the biological part of the game. This was my favorite part as a kid who rented this game from a video store and eventually found it at a pawn shop not long after. I don’t know how formative this game was to my tastes or if I came into this game with an already established love for the macabre. Regardless these tastes have continued to this day

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Thank you!

I had forgotten that diagrams like this were necessary back when gaming was young.

Screenshot_20240702-004706

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I Beat it. I’m going to go for the boss rush mode. I don’t think I’ve ever actually gone all the way through it.

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My good friend (middle aged retro gamer edition) recently bought me this as a birthday present. Can’t wait to play it.

I have no evidence to support the following, but I’m convinced it’s going to be like Blaster Master, but gooder.

3 Likes

oh man, i hope people do continue to play this game, it’s one of my all-time favs. the dificulty curve isn’t super ideal (by the last few stages you’re pretty maxed out on power and can steamroll thru most of everything, similar deal to crystalis which was also one of these monthly game club games) but it’s just a super solid old-school shooter in the one half, with decent enough zelding in the other. it’s also very possible to play thru on original hardware or just by using the password system and not save states. compile!! they’re good at the games they make!! that very first shooting level is a powerhouse! great music too!

nostalgia-wise, this game has a few pages in the first issue of nintendo power i ever had (link here, sorry it’s reddit) and that spread was kinda mindblowing to me as a kid in 1989. i love those old maps composited from photographs of a crt (and side note i’m real interested to hear/see what frank is cooking up wrt the camera system he recently got). aside from that novelty, though, what struck me then was how different it was to a lot of media i was getting in the 80s/90s to that point – there was a streak of xenophobia running real hard thru american culture at that point, and seeing anything that didn’t americanize any tinge of the original japanese manga/anime vibes was pretty rare and kinda alien to me and i vibed with it hard (the ending credits screen has a great portrait of your character in the style of the time). i mean i’m here on this forum now so guess how i feel about all that stuff in 2024 idk

anyway here’s the full original art from the japanese version’s box which is SO sick, got all the gigeresque mech vibes you crave

it’s by naoyuki katou (加藤直之) and at one point while i still had twitter a few years back i went on there and sent him a tweet in the best broken japanese i could muster if there were prints or posters of it, and he sent me a link to a store that had framed big prints of it!!! and by the time i was ready to buy the thing, the store shut down :sob: here’s the dead link and it just points to an amazon store which super doesn’t have it and idk. i should maybe hit up the customer service email at the bottom

anywayz good game, it’s real fun and has the vibes

7 Likes

Had some time this weekend and I managed to play through the whole game!
Bad news for you lot, turns out I’m the greatest player.

I found the difficulty quite forgiving, I used save states only in the password rooms because no way was I typing those out.

Here are my thoughts

This was an interesting one for me, because I felt that the game didn’t really excel in any aspect (except the animation at the start of the shmup sections. Never got tired of that) yet was quite competent in all areas. It ended up being a pretty great game just through sheer variety and consistency.

The shooting sections were very unconventional, especially for a Compile game. It felt more like a poorly balanced Euroshmup than anything. I mostly brute-forced my way through all the encounters, spamming special weapons and grabbing health pickups while tanking loads of hits. I found the weapon with a “V” icon that shot lasers out horizontally from your ship was extremely effective, and turned a bunch of bullet-sponge enemies into instant kills. If the game was just this, I don’t think I’d like it at all - but these sections are quite breezy and spaced out in a way that made them a lot less onerous than they might otherwise have been.

The adventure/exploration sections were cool. I liked the map, and the markers telling you where you can go were an especially pleasant surprise for such an old game. The translation was competent, with all the hints about how to open certain doors being well communicated. I had no trouble at all figuring out where to go next.

I gotta say, the overall balance and difficulty curve was quite poor in this game but I am a sucker for a constant flow of power-ups. There were so many weapons and upgrades to unlock! It was really exciting to explore new areas, find upgrades for my favourite weapons and see what they do. Even very late in the game I was unlocking cool new stuff. Surprisingly most of the weapons seemed quite viable, and lots of them had niche applications in particular situations.

I found the game mostly easy with some sudden, unpredictable difficulty spikes sprinkled throughout. Occasionally I would get completely blindsided by a boss and my health would evaporate in an instant. A couple I took out simply by standing still and blasting them as hard as I could before they wiped out my full health bar.

I’m tempted to say the boss encounters were too long, but actually I got something out of the war of attrition that many of them turned into. I’d say at least 4 or 5 of the bosses ended with me on a barely a sliver of health, which is just such a great feeling in games.

Overall, liked this a lot. Much greater than the sum of its parts. I’m always amazed by how many fun, innovative games are on the NES that I’ve never heard of.

3 Likes

Yay! I’m glad that you like it. One of my favorites from that era of video games. I wish that mechanics in this game had been better refined over the years. Such an odd mashup of genre.