Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a very fascinating title, to say the least. Whereas I had little to no expectations going into the cyberpunk-esque, sci-fi retro side-scroller, the providing straight tapped into my nostalgia for video games like Contra on the NES, which is one thing I by no means thought I would get to expertise from a title popping out in 2023.
From the action-packed gameplay to the tremendous energetic synthwave soundtrack, Vengeful Guardian Moonrider was a pleasure to play from begin to end, although there have been a number of points that disrupted my enjoyment of the title once in a while. Developer JoyMasher is thought for creating some actually enjoyable retro-arcade video games — like Blazing Chrome — which take direct inspiration from among the iconic motion side-scrollers of the 90s. Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is not any completely different, and, in truth, is far superior and extra satisfying than the developer’s earlier titles.
I had a good time going via the various completely different ranges of the sport, which had been crammed with some actually difficult platforming segments, together with a bunch of difficult but satisfying boss fights. Nonetheless, the sport is nowhere close to excellent, with some obtrusive flaws in its stage design in addition to the moment-to-moment gameplay.
Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a superb homage to the 16-bit retro-arcade video games of the 90s
Vengeful Guardian Moonrider, very similar to its identify, may be very metallic in its gameplay in addition to basic aesthetics, which is one thing I actually preferred. The neo-cyberpunk and retrofuturistic artwork type made for an genuine basic arcade expertise, one thing that I hardly ever see emulated this properly in most trendy video video games.
I grew up enjoying video games on the NES, with video games like Battle Metropolis and Contra being my private favorites. Whereas I did diverge into extra mainstream video video games because the years glided by, I at all times cherished the retro-arcade titles that had been an enormous a part of my childhood.
Immaculate presentation, coupled with an incredible retro-arcade soundtrack
By way of presentation, Vengeful Guardian Moonrider feels proper out of the early 90s, with a bombastic opening that introduces gamers to the sport’s plot and, with out losing any time, lets them free within the sneakers of the titular cybernetic-super soldier, Moonrider. The extent design may be very harking back to titles like Contra and the basic Castlevania video games, with tightly knit platforming sections coupled with cautious enemy placement.
Vengeful Guardian Moonrider’s artwork type is straight impressed by the likes of basic 2D side-scrollers, with some actually detailed stage geometry and characters. I used to be actually impressed by the neo-futuristic aesthetic and stage design, which appears to be like similar to Contra III: The Alien Wars for the SNES.
If gamers are on the lookout for an much more genuine 16-bit retro-arcade expertise, this title has them coated with a devoted “CRT Impact” toggle that emulates the display screen results of an outdated CRT tv. I cherished this addition and saved it on for the complete length of my playthrough. I actually admire it when builders embrace small non-compulsory toggles like these to present gamers extra methods to customise their gameplay expertise.
Very similar to its visible aesthetics, JoyMasher used some actually catchy sythwave soundtracks because the background rating, which provides so much to the general enjoyment of the sport. Whereas the ost is nothing distinctive, it completely enhances the high-octane gameplay and the retro visuals of Vengeful Guardian Moonrider.
Motion-packed gameplay that saved me on the sting of my seat
The sport doesn’t have a lot of a narrative aside from a imprecise opening that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Inside the first minute of booting up a brand new save file, gamers are given management of the Moonrider, who, very similar to different super-soldier protagonists in gaming, is woken from his slumber to serve his masters. Nonetheless, this character defects in opposition to his creators and goes on a rampage in opposition to them and different fellow tremendous troopers.
The opening jogged my memory of one in every of my private favourite collection, id Software program’s Doom, which shares an identical premise.
As quickly as gamers get management of Moonrider, they will begin hacking and slashing their means via the degrees. Regardless of its aesthetic similarity to Contra, Vengeful Guardian Moonrider performs extra like a Castlevania recreation with an emphasis on platforming and melee fight.
Proper off the bat, gamers are geared up with an vitality sword as their major weapon, which simply slices via the enemies. Together with it, the Moonrider can be geared up with a blaster that may be augmented with completely different firing modules. Though the degrees are pretty linear, they comprise a number of hidden secrets and techniques and collectibles for keen-eyed gamers to seek out, which grant them particular skills to make use of throughout fight.
Gamers can discover secret “chips” scattered all through the degrees, which can be utilized to reinforce the secondary weapon’s assault. Clearing ranges that finish with a serious boss battle additionally rewards gamers with a brand new particular power-up or weapon. I actually appreciated this characteristic, which gave me a further incentive to replay ranges.
The degrees in Vengeful Guardian Moonrider are pretty various, very similar to the video games it is aiming to emulate. From the usual shoot ’em as much as the on-rail taking pictures sections, the title continuously saved me on my toes, with its various stage design and its high-octane gameplay.
Whereas the sport genuinely impressed me with its retro aesthetics, action-packed gameplay, and immaculate stage design, there have been fairly a number of irritating moments that interrupted my enjoyment of the expertise.
Whereas Vengeful Guardian Moonrider performs fairly properly if you’re utilizing a controller; it’s a entire completely different story if gamers wish to make use of a keyboard and mouse as a substitute. I began enjoying the title utilizing KB+M however was considerably pressured to modify to a controller since enjoying the sport on the keyboard felt very tedious.
There have been a number of cases throughout gameplay once I was required to press sure button mixtures to both defeat a boss or clear a platforming part. Nonetheless, because of the default keyboard mapping, I used to be unable to chain the presses in time, leading to a “recreation over” display screen. Granted, gamers can rebind keys within the choices menu, however I really feel the sport is far more satisfying if you’re utilizing a controller. This is not stunning, contemplating the titles it is attempting to emulate had been primarily for consoles.
One other problem that’s considerably associated to the controls — which sadly wasn’t mounted with the usage of a controller — was the rigidity of sure actions, particularly the platforming skills of the Moonrider. Executing “dash and leap,” which is among the most essential actions, felt very clunky and awkward. In truth, lots of the sprint-based parts — like leaping or attacking — felt very inflexible and clunky, as a consequence of what I felt was an animation delay between any two actions.
Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a really brief recreation. My first playthrough clocked in at round two hours, which included me dying a number of instances to bosses and having to restart complete ranges. The sport has a dearth of content material if gamers aren’t considering replaying ranges to hunt collectibles and secrets and techniques.
Lastly, when it comes to efficiency, Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is fairly strong throughout the board. I examined the sport on two programs, the primary one with a Core i5 8700K, 16GB RAM, and GTX 1650 Tremendous and the second with a Core i5 7200U, 16GB RAM, and GeForce 940MX. On each programs, the sport ran flawlessly, with a strong 60 FPS at 1920×1080 decision.
The efficiency is not stunning given the very low system necessities for the sport; nonetheless, it is nonetheless fairly overwhelming to see a contemporary launch come out with such a level of polish. I did, nonetheless, run into a number of bugs throughout my time with the sport. Essentially the most annoying and recurring one concerned the sport continuously freezing every time I pressed Alt+Tab. I needed to restart the sport each time I had to make use of these keys concurrently to test one thing else on my PC, which was very irritating.
There have been additionally cases of the title crashing after I accomplished a mission. However this was very uncommon and solely occurred twice throughout my first playthrough. Total, Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a fairly respectable PC port that performs admirably on a wide range of system configurations.
Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a superb homage to the outdated NES and SNES classics, with a charming retro artwork type and action-packed gameplay that’s similar to the video games from the early 90s. The various stage design and tight platforming mechanics, coupled with some actually difficult boss fights and a really rewarding development system, hold the providing recent and really entertaining from begin to end.
Though the sport has some points relating to controls and basic clunkiness of motion skills, within the face of all the pieces that it will get proper, these are nothing greater than very minor blemishes. Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a superb retro-arcade side-scroller that followers of retro video games, or motion video games typically, mustn’t miss out on.
Reviewed on: Home windows PC (Assessment copy offered by The Arcade Crew)
Platform(s): Home windows PC, Nintendo Change, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Amazon Luna (in choose territories)
Writer(s): The Arcade Crew
Launch date: January 12, 2023