The World Wide Web is now over thirty years old. In that time, more content has vanished from it than remains now, but some of it can still be dredged up from the shadowy archives of the Wayback Machine. This is the latest chapter in our never-ending search to find the cool gaming stuff that time forgot….
Part of the network of the similarly venerable shmups.com, The Guardian Legend Shrine is nearly the ideal game shrine, a static site crammed full of screenshots, strategy tips, fan art and fiction, and generally just everything of interest to a fan of the NES game.
The Guardian Legend, recently covered by Jeremy Parish within Metroidvania Works as part of his penance for coining the term in the Before Times, is a cult classic in the genre. Design by “Moo” Niitani at Compile, it combines their deadly-sharp shooters with the exploratory gameplay of The Legend of Zelda. It even has its own form of the confusion as to who the main character is supposed to be. In this case, it’s pretty obvious in play that she’s a cyborg bikini girl out to blast aliens, but you wouldn’t know it at all from the manual or US box art. She’s just “The Guardian,” because otherwise it’d be more evident that you play as a girl.
Last updated in 2002, the heyday of the age of the internet fan shrine, its art section is full of crudely-drawn sent-in art of its main character Miya, or Alyssa, or whatever she’s called. Most of it is chaste, thankfully-this isn’t DeviantArt we’re talking sbout here. I wonder about the people who sent those drawings now, and how they feel about work they made probably as a kid still floating around the internet. The game was already nine years old at that time, so they really couldn’t have been that young?
It seems likely that no one’s worked on the site for a long long while. The hit counter and guestbook don’t work, and the link to an archive of NES manuals is broken. The newest entry on the News page says they had lost their FTP password, but then found it again, and a new update should be coming soon. That was in 2002, so you know, any day now.
The Downloads page has links to the game’s roms, shamelessly promulgated to all passers-by, as well as a lot of other media taken-from and inspired-by the game. As just one more example of just how old this is, the suggested emulator for playing the roms is Nesticle.
The original game is 34 years old now, and not getting younger. The age of the web fan shrine is long past, and its parent site Shmups hasn’t itself been updated since 2010. Who knows how much longer it’ll be with it. SO please, take a few moments to explore this relic of a past age. Do it for me. Do it for “Moo” Niitani. Do it for Miya/Alyssa/The Guardian/whatever. And especially, do it for Blue Rendar. Look into those googly eyes, how could you say no to them?