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Title: Guardian Legend, The
Author:Broderbund
Rom Player: Nester
Reviewer: Mr. Gaijin

Synopsis: I'm surprised that nobody here has reviewed this game, so my first effort goes to this awesome hybrid that literally blew my socks off.

TGL's story seems pretty generic at first; alien horde heading for Earth, only hope is a single soldier, yada yada yada. But the aliens are aboard an ENTIRE LIVING PLANET and the super-soldier is not only a female (go equal opportunity!) but also a human-spaceship crossbreed!

That's right. When not searching for weapons and keys on Naju's surface or in its bowels, you can enter "corridors" where your character morphs into a fully-loaded space fighter, turning the Blaster Master-style overhead exploration into a vertical flight shooter! Fun!

Graphics:
Every sprite on the screen is large and colorful, meaning you won't lose them against the backgrounds. The animations are just lovely for a game from the mid-eighties, but I have to take off a point for minor repetitiveness. Each overhead area looks like the next except for small variations in color and texture, and the 20 flight levels are only divided into five types (not counting the Entry and Escape segments, they are: Ocean, Jungle, Crystal, Organic, Desert), and each type is used four times before switching to the next one.

Sound:
Clear and catchy, particularly the Entry, Stage 0, Stage 3&4, Jungle, and Crystal levels. SFX are pretty average, especially when your basic shot is powered up to where you can easily shoot a few dozen rounds a second...

Gameplay:
Your character controls easily in both modes, and can use a variety of subweapons, each with three power levels, to combat the alien menace. These include:
-Multibullets: I never really used these, as I would quickly find other stuff.
-Back Fire: Not too powerful, but the shoot-behind-you ability could be helpful early on.
-Bullet Shield: A basic circle-of-fireballs protection attack. A lifesaver in the early flight levels.
-Saber Laser: A thick beam of light that deals large amounts of damage, but has piss-poor range without upgrades.
-Cutter Laser: Like the Saber Laser, but aims to both sides, not straight ahead. Works better in overhead areas.
-Grenade: It's a grenade. You can figure this one out.
-Area Blaster: Two shots that home in on the target. Runs out of ammo rather quickly.
-Hyper Laser: Only useable in flight stages, two long beams launch from your wings. Invaluable in later areas.
-Enemy Erasers: The "smart bombs" of the game. Available in packs of twenty, they clear all minor enemies and their shots from the screen. Super important, so stock up.

Other items include your basic health and ammo pickups, icons that increase your attack and defense, and the Landers(cute alien critters that increase your maximum health (blue) or ammo (red.)) Although there are some shops scattered around the planet, most of your powerups will be coming from the corpses of the many bosses that you come across. When you hear the siren, prepare for battle!

Originality:
Let's see...there's a boss that attacks by spilling smaller versions of itself from its central eye once you pop it(you too will get cheesed out the first time you see it), then there's the whole matter of the action-plus-shooter angle, and did I mention the half-spaceship woman that fights a sentient planet already? Still, there are some cookie-cutter elements (see Story.)

Final Thought:
If you see this cart at your local game shop (these days, it seems that only the privately-owned ones carry 8- and 16-bit stuff), buy it. Unless you want to get the ROM for free, you naughty person, you.

(NOTE: Mr. Gaijin doesn't advocate ROM use. You guys can do it all you want.)

Best Cheats: At the password entry screen, enter the letters TGL followed by all spaces. Now you're playing only the flight levels, one after another! Score points to earn your upgrades!

Game Play: 10
Graphics: 9
Music/Sound: 10
Originality: 8
Overall Rating: 10

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