The Guardian Legend (known as Guardic Gaiden in Japan) was a hybrid Action Game and Shoot Em Up created by Compile for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Released around 1988, it's likely forgotten by all but the most hardcore of gamers, but this game did a great job of blending the two genres.The game is about a female robot, codenamed "the Guardian", who is commissioned with stopping an alien-infested planet called Naju from crashing into Earth and killing everyone. To do this, she must set off ten strategically-placed explosives within the corridors (by transforming into a spaceship and flying through them) and defeat the bosses within.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Seeker special weapon. It launches too extremely fast homing missiles that do very good damage, but uses up a whopping 120 chips per shot at level 3, which is roughly four times more than most other weapons.
Or not. The pyramids close slowly enough that you can run out before the boss appears if you're quick! You can also stand over the walls as they form, then either go in to fight or run away if you think the boss is out of your league.
Bonus Dungeon: Corridors 11-20 are not actually necessary to complete the game; corridors 1-10 are the ones that give you keys and are required to open the final corridor 21. That said, the bonus items you get for completing the other 10 corridors will definitely help.
Boss Rush: "Corridor 21", and "TGL mode", which puts you through only the flying stages.
Boss Warning Siren: The normal music for the area turns off and a low and slow "bwoom" sound plays to warn of an oncoming boss. In the exploratory areas, this is accompanied by green pyramids closing off passages to other areas; it's possible to escape before the boss arrives. In ship areas, you have no choice and must confront the boss.
Covers Always Lie: The North American box art for the game, shown above, has pretty much nothing to do with the game. The European box art (seen here◊) and the Japanese box art (seen here◊) are slightly better in that they least show a Robot Girl, even if said girl looks nothing like the protagonist. Pretty much the only thing either the American or European covers get right is the phrase "Includes Password Feature". Oh, boy does this game include a password feature.
Cyclops: You can see a few of these in the game, but Fleepa and Optomon are the most glaring examples. (Puns fully intended.)
Destructible Projectiles: All enemy projectiles can be destroyed and you can even get random drops from them, though some projectile types require special weapons to destroy. The few enemies whose projectiles can't be easily shot out of the air by your main gun tend to be among the most difficult in the game.
The Saber Laser and Cutter Laser weapons create small blade-like beams directly in front of you and to the sides, respectively. They can be difficult to hit with against most enemies, but do enormous amounts of damage if you can use them properly.
The Spiral Shot, also called the Repeller. It creates a spinning energy ball which slowly moves forward as it spins around. As pointed out by Lord Ka T in one episode of Until We Win (in which he referred to it as "the circle cannon") it can be used to beautiful effect against bosses as it spins around on top of them to rack up hit after hit after hit.
The Fireball weapon can be hard to use due to being a Painfully Slow Projectile, but does large amounts of damage and makes the Optomon bosses easier by burning up the tentacle lines they shoot at you.
Difficulty Spike: Although the game starts difficult, it takes a huge leap once the player arrives in the Organic region, particularly Area 8. This is where Enemy Erasers begin to become an essential tool for surviving the Corridors, former mini-bosses start roaming the halls of the Labyrinth, and upgrades become few and far between. The game then takes another huge leap in difficulty once the player reaches the Wasteland region, where even regular enemies you've been wasting with ease since the beginning suddenly get way more health and way more damage.
Dungeon Shop: The giant Blue Landers you come across in the game either own these or operate Password Save rooms. Some of the Lander shopkeepers offer a choice of three purchases, but you can only take one of the items they have. (Though there is an exploit that allows you to take all three if you can pull it off properly.)
Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The goal of the game is to prevent this from happening... by making it happen to someone else.
Every 10,000 Points: The game rewards high scores by increasing your health meter every so many points, starting at 30,000 points. At the same time, the game will crash if you reach the score's cap.
Explosive Breeder: One of the enemies in the labyrinth areas is a blue spider that if left unkilled, turns orange, then red, then it splits into seven identical copies of itself. These individual copies can split even more, making things a little... complicated.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: It (a.k.a The Final Guardian), the Final Boss, who appears out of nowhere after the Boss Rush, just when you think you're home free. (In a bout of Fridge Logic, it shouldn't matter that much if you beat it or not, since it only appears after you've succeeded in your mission to blow up the planet.)
Guide Dang It: Corridor 4 caused a lot of players trouble. For that corridor the only hint given on how to open the gate was "Ask the round creature for help." Most players quickly realized the "round creature" was a giant Blue Lander who operated a Dungeon Shop nearby, but what they didn't know was that "asking for help" meant leaving and re-entering the room a large number of times, with no text or indication that it's helping at all, until eventually the Lander tells you he'll help.
If You Can Read This: All of the messages left to you by the last (good alien) survivor of NAJU comes in the form of giant monitors on the floor.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence - Those indestructible pyramids blocking your passage, until you gain enough speed upgrades to outrun the miniboss room ones or slip through the tiny gaps between the regular ones.
Intangible Man: You can easily walk though vertical 1-thin walls (apparently depends on a couple of factors, like emulator being used, etc) with enough speed upgrades.
Item Farming: You often have to farm enemies to get health and energy item drops before going into a corridor or optional boss fight.
Hitbox Dissonance: The game is extremely lenient when it comes to what parts of your sprite take damage, and what parts of enemy sprites give damage (especially the bosses). The fact that the game is still Nintendo Hard in spite of this says something.
They are also usually the easiest way to take down many of the otherwise challenging bosses. Lightsabers are just better, it seems.
Last Chance Hit Point: You will not die when your shields drop to zero. The next hit will destroy you, though.
Level Grinding: Killing enemies over and over will increase you score and eventually award you with one extra point of health. This ceases to be benefitial when at one million points you start needing another million for one health point.
Mercy Invincibility: Minimal, providing less than a second of protection, and only against small enemy collisions. Large lasers or enemy attacks do so much damage - sustained contact drains your shield almost instantly.
More Dakka: The Guardian's default gun relies on this principle. The more chips she's carrying, the more bullets-per-second she can shoot. The enemies also get this trope - in some of the later corridors, you'll find yourself facing an inspiringly absurd number of bullets and missiles and flying enemies and EVERYTHING ELSE.
Nintendo Hard: This is one of the more infamous games among NES fans. Some of the later corridor bosses are downright brutal.
Oculothorax: While eyes are a pravalent theme among many bosses, special mention goes to Optomon, who is a giant eye wrapped in tentacles.
Which is strange, as other counters go up to 9,999,990 (score) and 9,999 (chips).
Series Mascot: Red and Blue Landers are Compile's company mascots and recurring characters in their games.
Shoot Out the Lock: You have to do this for several Corridors. Corridor 1 by shooting out the gate, Corridor 5 by shooting out the corridor display panel, and Corridor 6 by using a special weapon on the gate. In an interesting inversion, you open Corridor 8 by setting your secondary weapon to "No Use" and attempting to fire it.
Under the Sea: Areas 1 and 2, the Water region. The Labyrinth may be in a dry space since it has non-aquatic enemies, but the Corridors are clearly underwater, full of fish and other underwater enemies, and the bosses are giant cyclopean sharks, octopi, and an irate crayfish.
Dug Too Deep: Areas 5 and 6, the Crystal region, which has the appearance of a crystal mine.
Womb Level: Areas 7 and 8, the Organic region. The walls are meat and the Corridors are full of eyeballs.
Shifting Sand Land: Areas 9 and 10, the Wasteland region. It's dusty and cracked and colored like sand. Also, full of bones.
Minus World: The "Lost Frontier" - a region outside the playable bounds of the game, which is accessible by putting in certain passwords. It's a glitchy region where new rooms are all randomly generated and should be traversed with caution as it is entirely possible for a new room to generate without an exit.
Waiting Puzzle: How the seal for door three is opened, and provides the page quote for that trope.
Where It All Began: The entrance for the final Corridor is actually in Area 0, in a room which was previously empty.
A Winner Is You: "You are the greatest player." is displayed at the end, along with your score and some extra art.