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DoctorSpuds Reviews Things - Guardian (Apollo)


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Well, this is it, this is the final Apollo game I have any interest in covering. Apart from Lost Luggage I have one final game from the Apollo catalog that I have yet to review, it is their final and rarest game, Guardian. Guardian was shipped in incredibly limited numbers, mainly due to the fact that the moment the game made it into production the company was shut down by its creditors, there was only one batch made before the company was dissolved. It wasn’t a bad run, eleven games over the course of a year or so, that’s a step above Telesys and about on par with Spectravision. So what was Apollo’s final crowning jewel, their magnum opus? Their smooch to a middle finger to the gaming community at large? This is Guardian.

It’s a generic space shooter… … Ugh, really? Well my expectations were low but holy crap I wasn’t expecting that. This game looks incredibly simple, but it has glimmers of excellence. The saucer at the top of the screen looks alright, the gradient is nice and it is animated. The little enemy things that the saucer spits out are simple in design but are very well animated, with two to three frames per enemy, and there are 5+ enemy designs which keep things from getting too monotonous looking. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see your little ship, it’s brown and basic looking and not worth talking about. Below your ship you’ll he a light brown line, which is the planetary shield a la GORF. Below the planetary shield are three detailed Earth-like planets, they look good no complaints here. Despite all of these little things having a good amount of detail thrown in there is one major complaint I have, this game looks boring, there is nothing that will really draw your gaze, the background is completely black and yes I really think this game could have used a starfield or just something to make the game more interesting. Well, the graphics are rather boring, do the sounds follow suit?

Well, not really. There are elements here that I like, but most of it is either forgettable or, again, boring. The one noise that will be constantly playing is a soft white noise engine sound that we’ve all heard several hundred times in every other Atari game. Each enemy projectile has a unique sound; unfortunately you won’t be hearing them all too much since the 2600 has only two sound channels and since one is always playing the engine sound the other one is going to be filled with… The sound of you rapidly firing and explosion noises, neither of these are too bad to listen to, they’re adequately chunky and satisfying. Eventually the whole thing starts to melt into an indescribable blob of nothing punctuated only by the sounds of explosions. Nothing has really been grabbing my attention so far will the gameplay change that?

No, it won’t. This is a basic bottom of the barrel move-around-the-bottom-of-the-screen-and-shoot-at-things game with elements of Kaboom! and GORF. The large blue saucer drops enemies and you have to destroy them before they reach the planetary shield, when the shield is hit a small hole will appear which the enemies will then try to get through so they can destroy the three planets. You move around using the Paddle controller which gives you good fluid movement, it would be nice though if the game would utilize that fluid movement. Unlike in Solar Storm where you could move back and forth firing at will in Guardian you are fixed in place when firing so moving the Paddle will only have you teleport when you let go of the firing button, this is annoying. You’ll often have to shimmy around an enemy firing on both sides before you can finally get the dial in just the right place, you can adjust to this but it will still happen and you’ll still be infuriated when it does. Even though the fluid movement of the Paddle is eradicated by the firing the game will still try to act like Kaboom! By the time you get to level six it will be a constant stream of tiny enemies flowing from the ship and since you can’t move while firing the game is basically over then and there. I almost forgot to mention that the shield is replenished every 10,000 points, so you’re not completely helpless.

All in all I think this is one of the most lackluster and boring shooters on the 2600, I’d rather play Spacechase or Solar Storm. It does nothing new, it’s not original in any capacity, and it just borrows from better games. Here’s the real kicker though, you’re not likely to get this game for under 70 dollars. All of the current listings are 130$+. You’re only buying this game to round off your collection, not to play it only to show it off. Collector’s Zone for sure, the game simply doesn’t justify the price attatched.

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