With a name like a long-lost Japanese tokusatsu series and a slavish dedication to a 16-bit aesthetic, Blazing Chrome (opens in new tab) developers JoyMasher are at it again. They've just announced their fourth game, Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider, an action platformer the the kind of 16-bit style that would have been right at home on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, or even the glowing backlit screen of a Game Gear.
In Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider you'll play the eponymous Moonrider, a super soldier who turns against the evil government that created it and fights for its overthrow. It's an action platformer that draws from the classic era of action platforming, with the creators citing Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi as inspirations.
Like Blazing Chrome, JoyMasher will partner with indie publisher The Arcade Crew to help Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider along. Yes, I'm going to type out the entire title Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider as many times as I can because 1) I think it's an evocative title with some nice words in it and 2) while they're badass words it's still really unwieldy as a phrase.
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider (I didn't lie) will be a bit more than you might expect from the precise inspirations, though. As you fight through its stages you'll be able to find hidden modifier chips that customize your Moonrider's fighting style to get new or upgraded abilities, promising more advanced gameplay than the older action platformers it draws on and mimics. That'll help your unlikely hero succeed, I hope, in their "relentless battle for vengeance against its creators and fellow super soldiers."
Which is kind of the draw here as well, isn't it? Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider looks nice. At the very least it definitely has the gorgeous, deep pixel art that characterized Blazing Chrome's world—though here's it's applied to a much bleaker, quite literally darker setting. The cutscenes wouldn't be amiss in a Robocop game, invoking as they do a world where "authoritarians have built super soldiers as weapons of war, but their creators have sealed their fate by bringing the warrior known as Moonrider online."
JoyMasher has pulled off this retro inspiration before, building on and elevating the games it's drawing from to make something wholly modern. Our Austin Wood called Blazing Chrome "a perfect successor to Contra and Metal Slug" back in 2018 (opens in new tab), and the cooperative shoot-em-up didn't disappoint with fans on release, holding 90% positive reviews (opens in new tab) on Steam.
You can find Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider on Steam (opens in new tab), though Blazing Chrome made its way to Humble and GOG as well so you can probably expect that. You can learn more about Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider developers JoyMasher on their website, joymasher.com (opens in new tab).
One last time, ok? Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider.