Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a side-scrolling action platformer from JoyMasher, which is set in a futuristic dystopian society under the oppressive control of a despotic government. Gamers play as the titular character “Moonrider,” a cybernetic enforcer of the state who has somehow broken free of their mind-control and embark on an action adventure to track down other government agents and liberate the people.
The narrative is light on details, with non-boss characters in cutscenes not given individual identities. This is akin to 90s platformers like Megaman and Strider, but with a less compelling storyline or main character to carry the plot.
There are 7 stages to complete, which can be played in any order, but the bosses which you encounter at the end of each stage drop power-ups that enhance your capabilities against more formidable adversaries suggesting that there may be a preferred strategic order to play the stages.
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider – A Fast-paced Shooter Game Reminiscent to Contra: Alien Wars
Moonrider is a fast-paced action-adventure game similar to the 90s hits Contra: Alien Wars. Among Moonrider’s capabilities is unlimited speed, a variable height jump, wall jump, a slash ‘n’ attack move that deflects incoming enemy projectiles and inflicts damage on enemies in its range, a jumping dive kick and a selection of special attacks from the power-ups of defeated bosses. These capabilities make Moonrider formidable to most stage enemies and apart from the end-stage bosses, the most challenging aspect of each stage is avoiding hazards with accurate positioning and well-time sprints and jumps. The gameplay is broken up with a few welcomed motorcycle racing action scenes, which again is similar to Contra: Alien Wars.
Moonrider is not a long or difficult game to complete with a variety of non-boss adversaries to overcome. The downside is that these adversaries only have a superficial distinction between them and it would have been more challenging and satisfying if they came with distinctive weaponry or attacks.
Even the end-stage bosses failed to leave you with a lasting impression as their attack modes consist mainly of teleporting and charging you down, compared to the mid-stage bosses that occupy the entire room and require strategic patterned attacks and retreats to overcome them, with a great deal of satisfaction I might add. The stages themselves, while not visually distinguishable from one another, offer unique challenges, puzzle mazes and great action set pieces.
90s Action Arcade Back with a Vengeance In Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider
This is very much a throwback to the 90s action arcade and platform games, and many gamers who played classics like Contra, Megaman and Turican should get Moonrider out of nostalgia. It has a high-tempo electronic techno soundtrack to match the action with impactful sound effects typical of action-adventure games in this genre. Moonrider is out on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, and Steam for $16.99.