Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider Review thumbnail

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider Review

2D action with robot ninjas

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS5 on 🤖

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is also available for PS4 and Nintendo Switch

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is rated Teen by the ESRB

If you're in the mood for an enjoyable action-packed 16-bit campaign then Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is here to scratch your itch.

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Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider screenshot 1
These highway scenes can be quite exhilarating

Be a robot ninja

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider has you play as a robot ninja known as Moonrider who was built as a weapon of the state but rebels. This story is simple but awesome as it provides a suitable motivation for the campaign that follows. After you select which stage to tackle next, you'll be delighted by the core gameplay which is simple yet satisfying. You basically walk, jump, and attack but on top of that, you can hold a run button to move faster, perform down-kicks while in mid-air, and unleash a secondary weapon which are unlockable by defeating the bosses à la Mega Man. It all comes together to form an entertaining old-school formula that you're sure to enjoy. 😄 v1d30chumz 35-172-230-154


Before continuing with the gameplay, let me say that Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider looks superb with its late-SNES early-PS1 presentation which reminded me of Strider albeit much darker. The animations, environments, and enemies are all pixel-perfect and unambiguous although there were a couple of times throughout the campaign that were a bit too visually chaotic but that was probably because I didn't thin out the enemy hordes efficiently enough. When it comes to music, the soundtrack isn't fitting of a retro-inspired game but it is full of pumpin' electronic tunes that will put you in the mood to run and cut through a whole army of robotic adversaries. 🎵

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider screenshot 2
Put 2 and 2 together, Einstein...

Clever levels

One aspect that I enjoyed about Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is its collection of levels which present a decent amount of variety. Considering just how long some of them are, you'll often think that various segments were from other stages but no; you actually end up doing a lot of different things in each stage. For example, you'll be speeding along a highway on a motorcycle via a Mode 7 action sequence then hop between vehicles only to slay a boss at the end. Other levels will have you jump between aircrafts, infiltrate compounds, fight mid-bosses, and avoid screen-clearing lasers. There's a lot packed in here and that's definitely a good thing. 😊

Upgrades and weapons

The 2 ways to grow your capabilities in Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider involve finding equippable chips that offer enhancements and beating bosses to unlock secondary weapons which deplete an energy gauge. The variety of secondary weapons is awesome and I found myself regularly switching between them depending on both platforming situations and the enemies I was facing. For example, one weapon lets you dash which I used in the trickier platforming segments while another can extend tentacles across the screen and penetrate shields which is handy for hard-to-reach enemies. Meanwhile, chips can allow you to double-jump, refill weapon energy over time, and if you're struggling, you can equip one that lessens the amount of damage that you take yet caps your level ranking to B. 🥈

This robot needs a tune-up

Finally, let me discuss some less desirable aspects of Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider. First, the campaign is very short and can easily be completed in 1 or 2 brief gaming sessions. On top of that, the only replayability comes in the form of maxing out each level's grade as well as collecting all of the chips but not everyone will be interested in doing so and even if you are, it won't take all that long to accomplish. Next, the boss fights are quite disappointing with most of them being easy to defeat as long as you stay aggressive and use your secondary weapon effectively. Finally, I found the running-attack to be kind of clunky as it makes you lunge forward and stop dead in your tracks. When I'm running as a ninja, I want to keep speed up as I cut through foes so this attack just feels odd. 🤔

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider screenshot 3
I wonder if this boss eats 7 breakfasts

At the end of the day, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a solid retro-inspired action game that does a good job of offering a satisfying albeit brief campaign. You could definitely do a lot worse but there is substantial room for improvement, that's for sure.

  • + Solid old-school 2D gameplay with plenty of cool upgrades and weapons to utilize
  • + Decent variety of action-packed levels
  • + Excellent retro visuals and pumpin' music
  • - Although varied, the campaign is rather short without much replayability
  • - Boss fights are kind of disappointing
  • - Some minor control issues
7.4 out of 10
Gameplay video for Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider thumbnail
Watch A.J. play Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider
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