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Video Game / The Guardian Legend

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If someone is reading this description... I must have failed.

The Guardian Legend (known as Guardic Gaiden in Japan) was a hybrid Action Game and Shoot 'em Up created by Compile and published by Irem (in Japan) and Brøderbund Software (in North America) 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 combat android, 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.


Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: The game's protagonist, a feminine robot who must singlehandedly blast through hordes of enemies in her mission to save Earth.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Apocalyptic Logs are seemingly written in English despite having been written by the last survivor of an alien race that never made contact with humanity.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The corridors are peppered with notes from a deceased native of the place that tells you how to unlock some of the trickier doors.
  • Artificial Human: The Guardian herself, a transforming robot whose humanoid form indeed looks very human.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Level 3 Area Blaster, also known as the Seeker weapon. It launches two extremely fast homing missiles that do very good and consistent damage and can clear out powerful projectiles like the Optomon's strings, but uses up a whopping 120 chips per second at level 3, which is roughly four times more than most other weapons. By the time you get this after Corridor 9, you are already at the end of the game and it might only be used in some the remaining sub-bosses and bosses, and maybe some parts of Corridor 20 and 10 where enemy spam gets ridiculous. Even when collecting the final gunpower upgrade at Corridor 20 in which this weapon's damage is dependent on, it is still inefficient and other Level 3 Weapons that also depend on the final gunpower are more efficient to use.
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  • Beam Spam: Many of the corridor areas have enemies that shoot a hail of lasers (especially at the end, when the laser-shooting Clawbots have DEADLY beams). Also Eyegore, a multi-eyed skull boss loves this trope too.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: For example, in the manual, "The Guardian is a sophisticated aerobot transformer".
  • Boss Room: When you walk into a room and hear a warning klaxon and see indestructible pyramids closing around you, be prepared to fight... 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. You can also rack up a lot of points as well to gain more health.
  • Boss Rush: "Corridor 21", and "Arcade Mode", (password 'TGL') 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.
  • Breast Plate: The Guardian wears what is essentially an armored bikini. Perhaps justified, as the Guardian's main defense is a personal nigh-invisible force field.
  • Cap: Plenty.
    • Enemy Eraser: 255
    • Special Weapons Level: 3
    • Gun Attack: 4 (you begin with 1)
    • Shield: 7 (you begin with 1)
    • Rapid-Fire: 5 (you start with 1)
    • Score: 9999990. Going past that causes the game to crash.
    • All weapons have three upgrade levels even though some of them have additional upgrade items, which do nothing if you are already at the highest level.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: On flying stages, many bosses start to aggressively throw mooks at you after turning red, giving you an opportunity to rack up much needed HP and power chips. In fact, the Corridor 8 boss is so hard to beat mainly because at one point he stops making mooks, leaving you without means to restore your health or refill a secondary weapon.
  • Cool Ship: A strange variation, as the main character is the cool ship (at least, she can transform into it).
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: The very first boss of the game is a large mass of mechanical turrets that open up to fire and can only be attacked while they're firing. The Organic region does this again with the two Eyeball Growth bosses, which use the same basic gameplay mechanic, but replacing the mechanical turrets with opening and closing eyeballs that fire smaller eyeballs as projectiles.
  • 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 the giant one-eyed shark and Optomon the one-eyed tentacle beast are the most glaring examples. (Puns fully intended.)
  • Dead Man Writing: When you first enter the labyrinth you are treated to an Apocalyptic Log from what used to be the last survivor of the good aliens on Naju. Their first words are "If anyone is reading this, it will mean that I have failed."
  • Degraded Boss: One of the minibosses in the labyrinth stages appears as a regular enemy later, while still retaining its high health and brutal collision damage...
  • 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.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: A few of the special weapons.
    • 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 Repeller creates a spinning energy ball which slowly moves forward as it spins around. As pointed out by LordKaT 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. While it's a Painfully Slow Projectile and drains more chips per use than other weapons, the fixed damage is so high that it qualifies as as a Disk One Nuke. See below.
  • Disk One Nuke: The Fireball Level 1. It is very early to retrieve this weapon after completing the first corridor and an easy sub-boss. This weapon, while not dependent on gunpower, is powerful enough to defeat sub-bosses and mini-bosses in less than 5 shots and can get you out of a jam against a barrage of enemies and small projectiles common in the earlier levels. This Level 1 weapon will get you through the game until Areas 5 and 6 are open, where weapon upgrades are available, including the Fireball Level 2.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Especially considering the Japanese name of the game, The Legend of Guardic. Aside from the addition of the labyrinth region, the other major difference between this game and its predecessor Guardic is that this game has a story. With this in mind, the name takes on two meanings. It is telling the legend of the Earth's guardian, and it is also a version of Guardic that actually has a legend to tell.
  • 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.)
  • Early Game Hell: Before facing the first corridor (Corridor 1), you are given a tough choice to either leave your chips at Max 100 (once you get the red lander) for much better firepower for your regular gun or use sub-weapons, which would shrink your Max firepower as going 99 or below places your gun to the lowest shot possible.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The fate of Naju after you successfully activate all ten self-destruct switches.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Guardian's name is never revealed in the game or the English instruction manual. According to the original Japanese manual, she is called "Miria" (full name: "Strongest Warrior System D.P., pet name Miria").
  • Evolving Attack: Both your main gun and your special weapons. The Guardian's main gun's spread and rate of fire increase with the number of Energy Chips she is carrying, while the special weapons become more powerful based on how many times you collect their icon.
  • Explosive Breeder: One of the enemies in the labyrinth areas is a blue spider that, if left unkilled, turns orange, then red, then splits into seven identical copies of itself. These individual copies can split even more, making things a little... complicated.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The game's Japanese name, as this game is basically Guardic from the MSX only with a story.
  • Extra Eyes: If it's not a cyclops, then it's probably this. Grimgrin has no less than 7 eyes. The Eyeball Growth bosses are giant growths of eyeballs coming out of the ground, with the first having 12 eyes and the second 16. Eyegore has 8 eyes.
  • Eye Beams: Optomon fires a large string of something highly damaging from its giant central eye. Eyegore also shoots lasers from its eyes.
  • Eye Scream: Inevitable, given the number of eyeball-related enemies. Grimgrin's eyes can be shot out, and when the main central eye is gone it Turns Red and turns up the number of objects it spits at you. The Eyeball Growth as well is literally a giant pile of eyeballs on the ground that you have to splatter to win.
  • Fighter-Launching Sequence: When you enter (and leave) a corridor level, you're treated to a brief cutscene of the Guardian transforming to (or from) her spaceship form.
  • Flip-Screen Scrolling: The labyrinth areas, which function like the overworld in The Legend of Zelda.
  • Flying Face: GrimGrin is a floating head with many Extra Eyes.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Crawdaddy, the boss of Corridor 2 (actually more of a lobster). One of the minibosses in the labyrinth areas IS a large crab that sprays bubbles about, though.
  • 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.
  • Green Hill Zone: Area 0 is a brightly lit region of green grass and stone walls, with the easiest enemies.. It's also the Hub Level and the Noob Cave.
  • 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 after purchasing something from him, with no text or indication that it's helping at all, until eventually the Lander tells you he'll help.
    • The game does not tell you that having five defensive shields increase your movement speed.
    • The game does not indicate when your rapid-fire shots max out.
  • 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.
  • If You Can Read This: All of the messages left to you by the last (good alien) survivor of NAJU come 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.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: Mostly averted. While a few of the enemies seem nigh-impossible to defeat, they usually just have a ton of Hit Points. Of course, the Enemy Eraser decimates them with ease.
  • Item Farming: You often have to farm enemies to get health and energy item drops before going into a corridor or optional boss fight.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Fireball weapon is exactly what it sounds like: a big ball of fire that destroys whatever it touches. Especially at max level, when it can cause massive damage AND destroy normally un-destroyable enemy projectiles.
  • Laser Blade: The Saber Laser and Cutter Laser weapons, which are very useful for killing things right next to you.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Because the Guardian utilizes Deflector Shields as hit points, getting your shield reduced to 0 means that you're defenseless now, not that you're dead. The next hit will kill you, though, even if it's just a light graze.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Enemies typically come in three different colors. Green enemies are the weakest, followed by blue, and finally red enemies, which are the strongest.
  • Level Grinding: Killing enemies over and over will increase your score and eventually award you with one extra point of health. This ceases to be beneficial when at one million points you start needing another million for one health point.
  • The Lost Woods: Areas 3 and 4, the Forest region. Given their oddly geometric shapes, the foliage here may also be Mechanical Lifeforms or Silicon-Based Life.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Bombardier boss can fire no less than 12 or so missiles at you in one go. Its missiles, however, are very weak, especially when you fight it the second time around.
  • The Maze: The Labyrinth is this, naturally. It's a series of rooms filled with enemies, arranged in a maze-like fashion, and interconnected via teleporter pads.
  • 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.
  • Minus World: There's 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.
  • 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. The only thing keeping this game from being a Bullet Hell is that the Guardian is not a One-Hit Point Wonder.
  • Mythology Gag: Many of the sources been re-used in other games designed by Compile. This includes the Lander sound effects being used as 1-up sound effects in games like Zanac x Zanac. Some of the weapons even represent the weapons in the Aleste series.
  • Oculothorax: While eyes are a prevalent theme among many bosses, special mention goes to Optomon, who is a giant eye wrapped in tentacles.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Teramute, a dragon boss that sprays fireballs.
  • Password Save: The passwords are 32 characters long, including both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and even a couple of punctuation marks.
  • Palette Swap: Like many NES games, many common enemies have tougher palatte-swapped versions to add to the challenge.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Certain items due to shops that lets you pick 1 of the 3 items:
    • The 2 Rapid-Fire Powerups in Area 2 and Area 7. You just need 1 of the 2 and find the rest to max out your Rapid Shot, but miss both and you won't max out your Rapid-Fire.
    • The Blue Lander in Area 4. If you didn't choose the Blue lander, you'll max out to 28 instead of 29 before score cap bug.
    • The Red Lander in Area 0, after completing Corridor 6 to obtain the Area 7/8 key. If you didn't choose the Red lander, you'll max out to 2400 chips instead of 4000.
  • Piñata Enemy: In the overworld section, the enemies that resemble an ice crystal will drop a heart almost every time.
  • Random Drop: While most items are earned, enemies and even destroyed projectiles can drop chips, health, and Enemy Erasers.
  • Rare Candy: The miniature Blue and Red Landers increase your maximum health and chip capacity, respectively.
  • Recurring Traveler: The Big Blue Lander shopkeeper seems to be this. It claims to be the keeper of all the smaller Blue Landers, and shows up repeatedly throughout the game to sell you things.
  • Series Mascot: Red and Blue Landers are Compile's company mascots and recurring characters in their games.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Areas 9 and 10, the Wasteland region. It's dusty and cracked and colored like sand. Also, full of bones.
  • 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.
  • Silicon-Based Life: Particularly in the Crystal region, you can find enemies who look like living gemstones that fly around trying to kill you.
  • Smart Bomb: The Enemy Eraser, which destroys all small enemies and projectiles on the screen. They become vital for surviving later parts of the game.
  • Sole Survivor: Aside from the Red and Blue Landers, NAJU was overrun by hostile aliens, and said survivor died sometime before your character arrives.
  • Sound Test: Not accessible from within the game itself (or even from the main menu screen), but there is a button combination that will let you access the sound test mode. This includes every piece of music and every sound effect in the game.
  • Spaceship Girl: Your main character is a female android who can transform into a spaceship.
  • Teleport Spam: Bombardier and Teramute are both seemingly immobile and only able to move around in their boss fights by teleporting, launching an attack, then teleporting again. There are also some mini-bosses in the labyrinth stages who teleport around, but can also walk on their own too.
  • Turns Red:
    • All three Clawbots slowly change color as they take damage, and in their second phase they lose their claws and begin rapid-firing their powerful laser.
    • Grimgrin, which also Shows Damage as you shoot out its many eyes. Once its main central eye is shot out, it begins moving much faster and rather than firing the occasional projectile it begins pouring out a non-stop stream of highly damaging projectiles until it dies.
    • The Final Boss, It, changes color as it takes damage as well, also gaining increased stats and faster attacks.
  • Underground Level: Areas 5 and 6, the Crystal region, which has the appearance of a crystal mine.
  • Underground Monkey: LOTS of enemies, including some bosses. The strangest example of this trope is in the Organic corridors. Accompanying the eyeball enemies and annoying green squid-like enemies that absorb all of your firepower are palette-swapped enemies from the Water and Forest regions, so you end up fighting mushrooms and sea creatures at the same time as eyeballs.
  • 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.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: The game will softlock if the score goes above 9,999,999.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Corridor 21, which exists in a previously empty room back in Area 0 after all 10 main corridors have been finished.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In the Organic Corridors, there's a small green eye enemy that's Nigh-Invulnerable, and absorbs pretty much all your weapons except the Enemy Eraser. To beat it... you need to run into it, which kills it instantly without harming you. It's probably the last thing one would do, given that enemies deal pretty painful Collision Damage at this point.
  • Waiting Puzzle: How the seal for door three is opened. You literally just stand in the room and wait. Also 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.
  • Womb Level: Areas 7 and 8, the Organic region. The walls are meat and the Corridors are full of eyeballs.

I hope this page will not be read by anyone... it will mean that I have failed.

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