Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider - A Retro Robo-Samurai De Ja Vu(Review)

Review time.
Review time.(JoyMasher)
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 9:22 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WACO, Texas (KWTX) -Reviewed on PS5

Developer: JoyMasher

Platform: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch and PC

Release Date: January 13, 2023

Code provided by publisher

I think the genre across all the varied genres of video games that remains the hardest to stand out in is that of the retro-sidescroller/platformer. Change up just a little of an FPS or a fighting game and BOOM instantly stand out of the crowd. Meanwhile, over the last decade the retro-cade game genre has seen a growth into a dedicated niche audience full of frenetic and blissfully pixelated 16 bit games that vary in terms of originality. Joymasher, the Brazilian indie game duo behind the critically acclaimed Blazing Chrome, step once again up to bat with a Genisis-inspired cyber-punk samurai robo-cop game that wears it’s influences on its sleeve like a badge of honor. But are those influences to upfront or does the DNA of Moonrider bring something more unique to the golden-age styled platformer.

Cruising in style.
Cruising in style.(Joymasher)

The story goes something like this, an unlikely hero in Samurai clad robo-defender out to fight back for an oppressed world; authoritarians have built super soldiers as weapons of war, but their creators have sealed their fate by bringing the warrior known as Moonrider online. Moonrider was intended to be a robocop bushido but says “eff the police” and goes against his cyber-brethren. Not that much of this has time to land because this game hits the ground running. The best way to look at this game is like if Shinobi 3 and Mega Man X had a baby and let that baby play Ninja Gaiden. Recursive level design that encourages some back tracking, makes the enemy encounters feel more varied than they really are. Each level ends with you taking on a boss and upon defeating them gaining their abilities.




Gameplay wise Moonrider wears it’s influences like a fine coat, pulling from the best of the golden age action adventure games like Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden and as I said infusing them with a melee focused version of Mega Man’s upgrade system. Combat mixes a few types slashes, dive kicks, and a short-range energy beam allowing you efficiently slice up foes as you traverse its intricate and detailed 8 levels. You can really feel the love of the genisis era of games from the way everything feels down to the rapid racing motorbike sections. Enemy hit boxes sometimes eluded me but the variety on display was great for the short 2 hour run. Levels even had plenty of reason to explore when the chance arrived, as there were alternative routes to take and additional upgrade chips to make your samurai cybercop that much more intimidating.

The retro aesthetic really shines through in the carefully crafted 16-bit sprite work, I really love the design of all the cyber-warriors you face and Moonrider himself looks badass. It especially hit the blast processing in those motorcycle bits, racing down futuristic highways and taking down bozos on bikes was a lot of fun. However, the aesthetic really departs somewhat when it comes to the soundtrack. I love the soundtrack, but it feels a lot more modern than most of the rest of the game.


Robo-Samurai Showdown.
Robo-Samurai Showdown.(JoyMasher)


Moonrider is a short romp through futuristic cyber-dystopia, I promise I’ll stop saying cyber soon, and its also a fairly easy one. Most combat is over in one or two hits and even the bosses put up little to no resistance when my blade came crashing through their circuitry. I would have liked to stick around a while longer and hit a difficulty increase, because honestly just when things feel the best the game comes to an end. I think Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a fun, if relatively short, adventure in an interesting world that just doesn’t ever hit a high enough point to make a lasting mark. By no means is it boring, and I think retro enthusiasts will love it even more for what it borrows but ultimately Moonrider commits the ultimate Robo-Samurai sin: being unmemorable. Still if this kind of game is your bag and you want a short and sweet action-adventure game, Vengeful Guardian Moonrider is a decent choice. I give Vengeful Guardian Moonrider a 7. If you are a noble robo-warrior, be sure to cyber-slash that like button and join the warriors band by subscribing. For Hardwired I’ve been Andrew Hamilton.

rating(Andrew Hamilton)