Cyborg ninja hero Moonrider stands beneath a multi-headed techno-organic boss monster made of metal and exposed muscle in a screenshot from Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider

Cyborg ninja hero Moonrider stands beneath a multi-headed techno-organic boss monster made of metal and exposed muscle in a screenshot from Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider

Joymasher’s new retro motion game Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider feels ripped from the Big Sprite period of video video games, again when Sega boasted that its 16-bit Genesis did what Nintendon’t. It’s constructed on the early-’90s promise that larger was higher, the place the dangerous guys you fought have been extra attention-grabbing as a result of their wealthy, pixelated vastness couldn’t be contained on an previous tube tv display.

More particularly, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is an homage to side-scrolling character-action video games of the period; suppose Sega’s Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master or Capcom’s Strider — video games filled with platforms, rails to hold from, and the occasional stage gimmick. There’s homage layered upon homage right here, for simply because the 16-bit arcade video games (and their dwelling port equivalents) blatantly ripped off ’80s Hollywood motion cinema like RoboCop and The Running Man, so too does Joymasher’s new throwback.

Like many traditional 16-bit Genesis video games, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider’s story is paper-thin. The game’s robotic protagonist, Moonrider, rebels in opposition to its programming as a forcible peacekeeper amid a insurgent rebellion. Moonrider is a robotic run amok, woke up to the oppression he has been complicit in, and on the hunt for his fellow robotic guardians who’ve been tasked with silencing him.

Moonrider sprints through a wooded level on a platform sandwiched by spikes, facing an enemy ninja and being targeted by a flying humanoid robot in the background

Moonrider’s mission — and the construction of Vengeful Guardian— is just like that of Mega Man video games. Players can search out the opposite guardians in just about any order, selecting places and a robotic grasp guardian to take down from a easy, however stylishly retro map. Like Mega Man, dispatching a rival guardian will grant Moonrider their particular capability. These embrace weapons like Hydroshurikens, a whirling quartet of throwing stars, or the Darkportal, which may summon lethal tentacles from, properly, darkish portals. Moonrider also can uncover improve chips that grant additional armor, a double soar, or a “bloodlust” that restores HP for each kill. Chips vary from the hardcore — the Glass Cannon chip makes Moonrider stronger however he dies from one hit — to the beauty — the Chameleon chip allows you to edit Moonrider’s colour scheme.

Like the 16-bit video games it references, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider strikes fluidly however simplistically. Moonrider’s assaults are restricted to sword slashes and dive kicks, and he can soar — and wall soar — platform to platform. These strikes are bolstered by a dash button that makes Moonrider go from stiff robotic to speedy ninja machine, slicing by means of most enemy grunts with a single slash. There are spike pits and bottomless pits to keep away from, electrified partitions too, however none of those environmental hazards are the moment kills they might be in older video games. Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is surprisingly fashionable and forgiving, contemplating its influences.

Cyborg ninja Moonrider rides on a motorcycle in third-person, behind the back view, while a flying robotic enemy shoots flames at him on a futuristic city highway

It’s a disgrace, then, that Joymasher hasn’t modernized Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider in a number of irritating methods. For one, the game’s interface is clunky; selecting the improve chips for a explicit mission is confusingly designed, and revisiting ranges to seize any remaining power-ups is a irritating guessing game. Rather than displaying leftover power-ups in missions you’ve overwhelmed, Vengeful Guardian merely denotes your mission rating.

Scoring additionally feels antiquated and simplistic. Your rating on a stage seems to be primarily based totally on rating — seemingly the variety of enemies you’ve killed — and the way lengthy it took to finish a stage. There aren’t any obvious combos or rating streaks to maintain issues attention-grabbing for subsequent playthroughs, making the prospect of attempting to S-rank every degree all that much less attractive.

That’s the place Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider evokes its inspiration as soon as extra. After beating the game, there’s little left to do however problem your self to do it once more, sooner and higher. Like among the Sega Genesis classics it goals to recreate, it’s an gratifying escape for a weekend, however not for much longer.

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider can be launched on Jan. 13 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows PC. The game was reviewed on PS5 utilizing a pre-release obtain code offered by The Arcade Crew. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media could earn commissions for merchandise bought by way of affiliate hyperlinks. You can discover further details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.

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