There’s not really much of a story to write about here as it’s all pretty vague. There’s a shinobi in a tank of liquid that’s suddenly awakened when the military appears to turn on and attack the normal citizens. This demo allows you to take control of this cybernetic horned Oni demon and take off running to slash and flying kick your way through anything that stands in your way.
Much like Blazing Chrome before it, Vengeful Guardian Moonrider borrows heavily from Contra III: The Alien Wars while adding in melee combat that feels straight out of Strider. While there isn’t much variation in the extremely short demo, you’re able to attack with a sword that makes a crescent moon shape, a jumping kick that can be kind of aimed in the air, and a weapon ability that’s essentially a straight line lance type attack that requires power to use.
As this game is equally part fast action side-scroller and speed runner, you can play the levels at your own pace looking for any hidden secrets or simply jump and dash your way through avoiding as much combat as you can manage. I believe my fastest time in each section was just under three minutes which was enough to score the S ranking, but felt pretty hollow considering my score didn’t seem to weigh into the ranking at all. I sucked pretty bad the first time and took six minutes, exploring everything slowly and still managed to get a C rank.
Ultimately, you’ll run through the first area, and then fight a fairly easy boss with an obvious pattern and you can do damage to the boss by either waiting for the mouth to open to hit the inside just before the laser fires, or you can hit the bosses hands while they’re launching an attack – an option I didn’t even discover until I had played through the demo multiple times. After the boss, you’re presented with an aerial level where you’re jumping back and forth across flying platforms and dealing with enemies that you can’t damage until they throw their weapon which leaves them defenseless. Pretty standard stuff here, but it’s a short and engaging demo and well worth checking out just because the sprite work is so well done.
If I had any complaints about this demo other than the length, it’s that the controls weren’t quite as tight as I’d like them to be (at least from what I could tell on my Steam Deck.) Blazing Chrome wasn’t quite perfect either, but in this game, I found that several times I would dash and it would take a half a second before it would register my jumps or attacks which made running and gunning a little more difficult than it should have been – especially in the second area. I’m looking forward to checking out more of Vengeful Guardian Moonrider when it releases later in the fall.