The 2020s are the new 90s. Many of the series, movies, clothes and video games that we consume today try so hard to look retro, that they end up being copies or medium-quality products that look “cheap”. Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is the exception because it is a perfect combination of inspiration and modernity.
Imagine that in a blender you put games like Mega Man X, the original Ninja Gaiden saga, Hagane, Shinobi and even a little Contra, and the result you put a dash of more recent titles like Cyber Shadow and Panzer Paladin. This is presented by JoyMasher, a studio whose motto is “We know Retro” (we know retro) and which launched Oniken in 2012, to prove it. Their next title, Odallus, also delivered, and with Blazing Chrome they confirmed that they are one of the best at launching retro games. Now, without the pressure of showing us anything, they surprise us with their most recent title, which rescues the best of the SNES and Sega Genesis platformers and adapts it in an excellent way so that both youngsters and old school gamers can enjoy it. .
Visually retro and beautiful
A dip in the 90’s
As in the installments from 30 years ago, the story of Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is basic: an institution made up of an army of super machines dominates the world and our protagonist, the Moonrider, rebels against them to put an end to their totalitarian regime. In some sections there are cinematics and there are rarely short and well written dialogues because the main focus of the game is combat and movement.
Although the action predominates in Vengeful Guardian, there is a good balance with the platforming. Our character moves fluidly, and while it mimics 16-bit era scrolling, it’s much less clunky and limited, especially if you use a joystick. The first level is great for showing us the moves and serves as a practice yard. Here we see the most basic enemies, those that are a little more powerful, some minibosses, platforms to calculate our jumps and more. Although we get skills and chips as we progress, we start with an essential move: the wall jump. It is almost identical to Super Metroid, although easier to execute.
At the end of each scenario you have to face a boss, who are the other machines part of the dictatorship. By defeating them we acquire a new ability, similar to what happens in Mega Man X. We also obtain a rating, which goes from rank E to S. To get the highest grade it is necessary to pass the level as quickly as possible, collect all the items and take the least amount of damage.
Like my third try, but I got S rank
Precise and beautiful platformer
In addition to these superpowers that we take from our enemies, we can find chips, which are the items I’m referring to. They are not required to pass the game, but they help a lot. There are 12 in total and they are used to gain an extra jump, receive life every time we eliminate an opponent, recover magic every few seconds and similar situations.
We get the most basic the first time we lose all our lives (that’s right, this game is so retro, it uses this system) and it serves so that the enemy’s blows do less damage to us, but the highest rating we can get is B. There is even an enemy that with a single hit makes us lose everything, ideal for the most hardcore gamers with years of experience.
The downside is that we can only equip 2, so it’s up to each person to choose the best ones for their style of play. For a long time I used the one that helps to discover the secret paths and the double jump one, but when I faced bosses that cost me a lot of work, I changed the first one to the one that regenerates life in a few seconds. It’s a lot of fun finding each chip and finding out what it does.
These powers are very helpful.
Your game, your decision
With the exception of the first and last level, we can go through the scenarios in the order we want, something that is greatly appreciated because we can go to the less complicated ones first, get the boss’s ability and advance much better armed.
The level design is fantastic; I was constantly thinking or hearing myself say out loud “Wow!” by the obstacles and the sections with fresh and entertaining ideas that were appearing. Many criticize the water settings as frustrating, but the one in Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is more dynamic, and the slow parts are offset by fun little puzzles. It’s like the water level from the first Sonic, but much better.
Each one has a different gimmick. In addition to the water one, there is another where we hang from ships that travel over the air, in another we enter the jungle and another changes the perspective and becomes similar to those found in NES racing games or like F-Zero . Of course, they are very difficult, and at the beginning, when we don’t know the way, we die often, but it is compensated by how ingenious they are.
No matter how many times we fall into a well or a boss defeats us, it is almost impossible to let frustration win and stop playing, because Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is addictive. As every once in a while he throws us a great idea or great levels, something inside of us encourages us to pick ourselves up and keep going. Also, it’s not an extremely complicated game either; its balance is perfect.
It is YOUR decision to pass the levels in any order
Less is more
After all, it’s inspired by titles that gave us cramps and nightmares as kids, so if you played the golden age of platformers, it won’t get too complicated either. In fact, if you are a less experienced gamer, you will be able to overcome the challenge, albeit with a little stress.
In total there are 8 levels, so the total game time is around 4 hours. For many it may not seem like much, but the intention of the ranking system is that you pass them multiple times until you get the highest rating. You’ll hardly have the best in your first game, plus you might miss picking up a chip, but the level design is so good, every stage is highly replayable.
On the surface, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is fantastic. It’s not the most beautiful pixel art we’ve ever seen, but it would have stood out on the Super Nintendo. The fact that it’s a game set in a futuristic dystopia means that the dark tones help us appreciate the lighter ones, something JoyMasher did many times by combining black or gray with very vivid pinks, greens and blues.
The only water level that has amused me
Not everything is perfect (although it seems so)
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider has many elements that make it a sublime and ideal recommendation for those people nostalgic for the 90s and looking to play on their journeys. We won’t say it’s perfect either, but its flaws are minimal. The first, and perhaps most notable, is that even if you pause the game, your clock continues to tick, so if you have to answer your phone or go to the bathroom, your final rank will be affected.
Another small flaw is the story. In addition to being a bit basic, it’s very cliché, so we’ve seen it countless times in Genesis and SNES titles and for many years.
Lastly, I would have loved if they added more chips throughout the game. Even though I think 8 levels is a good number and that they are extremely replayable, they were able to give out more items because they are so much fun to find and try. They add a lot of spice to combat and exploration.
In conclusion, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a very welcome surprise and a great way to start the year. If you are a lover of platformers and retro titles, it is perfect for you, and if you are not, it can give you a couple of hours of high adrenaline, fun and considerable challenge.
Although it closely resembles its inspirations, it’s not just an imitation, but a tribute to an entire genre and era that elevated gaming and one that we hold dearly to our hearts. In addition, he adds several tablespoons of his own seasoning to give us a succulent dish that made me go through it in one sitting, because it is highly addictive. The best thing is that it is a delivery that we will want to play several times, so it is a very good investment for your catalog.
A unique trip, although very familiar
Editorial: Gaming / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Instagram / News / Discord / Forums
/ Telegram / WhatsApp
Leave a Reply