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Growing Up Geek: The Guardian Legend

The Nintendo Entertainment System, like many kids born in the early 80’s was my first home console. My mom, sister and I lived with my Great Uncle and Aunt who gifted it to my sister and I on a Christmas soon after the NES was released. Running through Super Mario Bros level 1-1 for the first time, I knew instantly that I could never live without video games after this. At school all I could think about was getting home and seeing how far I could that silly red plumber through the Mushroom Kingdom. A boy can not live on one game alone though, so every weekend, even after we had moved away from my uncle’s place, he would pick me up and I would stop at the local video rental store that had a fair selection of NES games and I’d pick one out. My weekends were spent in front of the TV playing through nearly every game they had, only to return it on the way home Sunday night. Games were still $50-$60 even in the 80’s, which I think we all know, was a lot more than it is today. A quick US Inflation Calculator  search tells me that a $60 game in 1989 would cost $115 today. How many recent games would you buy if they cost that much? Owning a game was a lot harder then, since we didn’t have a lot of money, so new games were for special occasions and I’d only get maybe 2 or 3 a year, if that. Never having a huge collection of games, the ones I did own all hold special places in my heart. We’ll talk about some of the other ones later, today I’m here to tell you about The Guardian Legend.

2361779-nes_theguardianlegendReleased in 1989 in the US, Japan and Europe, The Guardian Legend is a sequel to a game only released in Japan called Guardic and called The Guardic Guardian in Japan. I found the game at a large box store, I want to say Wal-Mart, maybe K-Mart and after seeing the totally wicked box art, knew it had to be mine. Seriously, look at it, it’s A CREEPY MONSTER DUDE’S EYES WITH A FREAKING SNAKE HEAD IN HIS FOREHEAD! AND LIGHTNING! AND A DESOLATE ALIEN HELLSCAPE! Much pleading and promises to not ask for anymore games followed, convincing my Uncle to lay down his hard earned money and I was on my way home. There was zero information on what kind of game this was, since I’d never laid eyes on it before or even seen it mentioned in Nintendo Power.

Much to my surprise, the game opens with a top down, 1942 style shooter. I LOVED 1942 in the arcade, so my pleasure was hard to contain. The soundtrack to this game is iconic to me as Mega-Man, Super Mario Bros and Castlevania and as soon as you start the game it hits and puts you in the perfect mood to shoot everything. Once you complete the opening level and defeat the defense mechanism, everything changes. My awesome space ship transformed into a person! Now it was a Legend of Zelda style action-adventure game, where you have to move around the map and find the entrance to numerous “Corridors” which put you back into shooter gameplay. Along the way you collect different weapons, from a fireball that spins around you, wave style projectiles and a short lightsaber-like beam. “Chips” are located throughout the world which when maxed out increase the power of the regular attack and fuel special weapons. Progress is saved via passwords given to you by these bizarre blue circle guys in certain rooms. Oh if only I still had my notebooks, filled with numerous passwords. There are 10 Corridors that must be defeated to finish the game, which to this day remains a personal goal.

The story in The Guardian Legend revolves the planet Naju, which was sent heading toward Earth on a peaceful mission but something went horribly wrong. Our hero, a transforming gynoid was sent to the planet in order to activate it’s self destruct sequences by defeating the monsters and acquiring the keys to the system. Yes, I said gynoid, as in a female robot, the character wasn’t featured on the box art here in the US and with the graphics there is no way to really tell that the character model is female in the game unless, like Metroid, you beat the game and she is revealed at the end.

The Guardian Legend Japanese Box Art

The game is not nearly as difficult as some “bullet hell” style shooters but fans of 1942, Galaga, R-Type, LifeForce and Legend of Zelda will be pleasantly surprised. The Nintendo Advantage controller was perfect for this game and was used exclusively when playing it.As you can see in the video below, my skills have waned over the many years and I was using a cheap usb controller.


The cartridge remains in my collection, one of very few NES games I still have, foolishly selling most of them off ages ago. The Guardian Legend will always live on in my mind as one of the best games of the NES age.



I look forward to making another one of these videos soon and am working on making them better. Next time I’ll try to record without the kids in the house and talk more about the game and the memories it brings back.