#271 – The Guardian Legend

Shooting and exploring, because that’s what Guardian Legends do.
X9, Y14… you sunk my scantily-clad space warrior!

PUBLISHER: Broderbund


GENRE: Action/Shoot-em-up

RELEASE DATE: April 1989

There ain’t nothing wrong with genre-splicing, especially when the result is an intriguing, inscrutable mess like Guardian Legend. I played this game without the use of any FAQ, so my review will certainly highlight any and all confusion. The game starts off as an insanely fast-paced vertical shooter. Enemies and general debris are flying at you quicker than your brain has time to register. Best-case scenario: hold down ‘A’ and hope you don’t get hit too much. This is yet another one-life-and-you’re-out game that have been gracing my presence lately. Once you take out the boss, you’re given some vague back story about failure and saving the galaxy and such, when suddenly, you’re a bikini-clad space warrior searching for… stuff! Yup, the game switches from a shooter to a third-person adventure game. This overhead view was deeply, heavily, massively inspired by The Legend of Zelda. In fact, I could hear Compile (the developer) pitching this to Broderbund (the publisher): “Think of Zelda, but… IN SPACE!” Surprisingly, it works. Right down from the enemies that flicker onto the screen every time you move on the map, to the pause menu also substituting as a map and inventory holder, the game is an excellent space representation of Zelda, with one exception: I had no clue what I was doing. There were several points where I entered a space portal or something that seemed like it was going to move me on to the next area, but it never did. Also, there were times when I’d blast special boxes and symbols of weaponry would be in them, like a boomerang. I never figured out what the point of these were. Despite the obtusity (huzzah for new verbage!) of Guardian Legend, I really enjoyed it. It’s a game that borrows from an obvious source, yet the end result is unique and well-crafted. ‘Tis a rarity for the NES era.


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9 replies on “#271 – The Guardian Legend”

I remember renting this game and absolutely loving it when I first played it. The variety between sequences was a lot of fun for me and it was a long game to beat as well. I’m finding a LOT of good memories reading through your posts on here… and a bit scared at just how many of these games I appear to have played and beaten, lol.

What a great game. I remember being really impressed with the graphics of the space shooter boss fights, especially the eyeballs. They looked as realistic as I’d seen for an NES game.

Another game that could seriously use a remake/reboot. It irks me to no end seeing s**t like Call of Duty get rehashed every damn year and innovative genre breaking titles like this are just left as fond memories. Like the world needs another gritty realistic multiplayer shooter…

Great game, one of the best the NES had to offer in my opinion.


The symbols you see in the game are portals: you unlock keys by going into the corridors, turning back into the space ship (she doesn’t get into the space ship, she IS the space ship…) and fighting a boss. This gives you keys, that match the different symbols on those portals. Once you find a key of that specific shape, you can go to the next portal, no problem.

Just bought this game yesterday and it’s quite fun. Just wish it had a battery backup.

Wow, spent a lot of time on this one. I actually learned something by writing out very long save codes (remember those!). My handwriting improved dramasticaly after a few wrong save points. I was driven mad by the fact that I had three defensive upgrades but couldn’t find another offensive upgrade. Spooky but cool. I loved to use big grenades for an aoe effect as a ship.

Awesome game. It’s like The Legend of Zelda and Life Force had a baby and named it The Guardian Legend.
One of my all time faves

I loved this game as a kid, one of my absolute favorites. Just, in that first space scene, don’t let the speed of the background fool you. All of the projectiles are coming at you at a normal pace; only the stars are flying by as you approach your destination. 😉

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