Retro Motion Sport Asks What If Ninja Gaiden However Physique Horror
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider has every thing you’d need from an indie tribute to 16-bit motion platformers: there’s detailed industrial pixel artwork, crunchy dying animations, and loads of spike pits. It’s temporary however explosive, and can be proper at residence in any ‘90s arcade cupboard hidden within the again nook of the pizza parlor or bowling alley.
Out January 12 on PS5, Xbox Collection X/S, Swap, and PC, Vengeful Guardian is the newest retro homage from JoyMasher, a Brazilian studio based by Danilo Dias and Thais Weiller. The indie duo’s final sport, Blazing Chrome, was a formidable love letter to run-and-gun side-scrollers like Contra and Metallic Slug. Vengeful Guardian is a equally painstaking however celebratory nod to the previous, this time borrowing closely from video games like Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden with a touch of Mega Man X thrown in. It’s not a lot a revelatory reimagining of these classics as a reverent reproduction that sits comfortably alongside them.
You play as one of many merchandise of a despotic regime that makes use of robots to maintain an iron grip on a futuristic metropolis. For no matter cause, you’re wired to have a conscience, and as an alternative of defending these in energy you determine to assassinate your fellow guardians one after the other till the folks can stand up and overthrow the federal government. The world constructing, minimal as it’s, combines the exhilarating brutality of Robo Cop with the unsettling dread and grimey presentation of a David Cronenberg physique horror flick. The revolution, in the meantime, is fueled by an lively techno soundtrack from composer Dominic Ninmark that provides urgency to the horror.
The result’s near a dozen sci-fi side-scrolling ranges with mild backtracking the place you dodge hazards, slash by opposing enemy forces, and tackle a slew of huge and small bosses with the assistance of a laser sword, double-tap sprint, and wall leaping. Whereas there are a handful of branching paths and difficult platforming set items, Vengeful Guardian is extra centered on showcasing its dystopian designs and lavish pixel artwork than hitting you over the top with quarter-eating problem.
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On one stage a giant robot stalks you through a forest in the background, knocking down trees and throwing fists from afar until you confront it in a mini-boss battle later on. On another level, parasites unleashed in a mining effort take over your cyborg foes and make their heads explode as they transform into gnarly masses of antagonistic flesh. The cherry on top is how rewarding it feels to slash through each one, with visual effects and unique death animations that make the otherwise straightforward levels feel vibrant and dynamic. Vehicle levels, including ones that have you racing through the city with mode 7-style 3D effects, also spice things up a bit and are gorgeous to boot.
And unlike many of the games Vengeful Guardian borrows from, it’s generous with checkpoints and health containers. You’re also treated to a varied arsenal of special abilities and upgrades. Similar to Mega Man, defeating each boss grants you one of their powers. My personal favorites were a hyper-dash attack and a dark portal that unleashes a Cthulhu-like tentacle, though on the whole none of them feel like big game changers. More transformative are the upgrades which range from things like getting health back from each enemy you kill to a scanner that alerts you to hidden locations of other power-ups. There’s about a dozen total, including a double jump and extra armor that slashes the damage you take in half.
That last one essentially lets you bruteforce your way through most bosses, letting you aggressively body them without worrying about learning their attack patterns or fine-tuning your twitch reflexes. The only consequence is that it limits the score you can get on each level to a B, incentivizing you to go back and eventually perfect each level to potentially unlock something extra, which I haven’t yet done in my roughly two hours with the game.
That runtime left me wanting more from Vengeful Guardian than just perfecting the levels I’d already completed, but I’ll take it over games overstaying their welcome or running out of ideas but going on for another five hours anyway. Like Shinobi III or the other ‘90s hack-and-slash platformers its channeling, Vengeful Guardian lets you get in, have fun, and put the controller back down before you start getting tempted to chuck it across the room. There aren’t any new ideas here, but it delivers on the old ones with polish and flare.