Your mission is to destroy enemy robots. Your end goal is to defend your tower. But you’ll have to flick between both the GamePad and the TV screen to do so. Star Fox Guard is short, intense and fun in small doses. Just make sure you have great reflexes.
Shown in E3 2014 by Mario developer Shigeru Miyamoto, the tower defence game began its life as Project Guard; a small and experimental title from Nintendo. Renamed as Star Fox Guard earlier this year by the company, it was packaged with Star Fox Zero and tied in with the franchise as a side dish or an aperitif, so to speak, to the main game. Starring Slippy Toad and his Uncle Grippy, the player is employed by Corneria Precious Metals Ltd and must help mine the various planets while defending against enemy robots sent to destroy the tower.
With development shared between Nintendo’s EPD division and Platinum Games, Star Fox Guard is best played in small doses with nimble fingers at the ready. By using both the TV screen and the GamePad, players will need to keep their wits about them as they defend their tower base with security cameras – named AegisCams – twinned with lasers to shoot enemy robots as they advance. With a number of maps fashioned from Star Fox Zero’s planets, including Corneria, Titania and Zoness, you’ll be able to access up to three different base maps per planet in areas A, B and C. Each map base has three main missions and up to four extra missions to complete, though you’ll only be able to progress to the next planet once you’ve defeated the boss level, stationed at the end of Area C.
Unlike its counterpart title Star Fox Zero, Guard grants players a much quicker learning curve for controls, making it an instant pick up and play title. While the TV displays 12 cameras around the edges of the screen, with one in the middle for a wider view, the GamePad shows the map layout coupled with the AegisCams placement. Security cameras can be dragged to different areas on the GamePad screen – handy for when you need numeric order for precise tapping – and can be rotated either by touching the camera with your stylus or by using the left control stick. Players can then utilise the cameras lasers by shooting enemy robots with the ZR button.
While the aim of the game is simple, completing the missions can certainly be trying, even for the most agile players. Each mission dictates the number of enemy robots you’ll encounter during the preparation stages, but you’ll need to flick between both GamePad and TV screen throughout the mission to succeed. Robots are siphoned into two distinct classes; combat and chaos. While the former head directly to the tower in order to destroy it, chaos robots will send your AegisCams into disarray with a number of actions. From using a smokescreen to disrupt your view or placing fake footage on cameras, to disabling them or making them disappear completely, the chaos robots are a force to be reckoned with.
To complete a level, players must defeat all combat class robots on the map. Of course, enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all varying in speed and toughness, of which usually determines the difficulty of the level. Up to 11 combat class robots and 15 chaos robots are available in game; most of which exist mainly to drive you up the wall in complete but enjoyable frustration. And once you complete a mission, you’ll obtain precious metals that contribute to your overall CPM ranking and gain you particular unlockables, such as access to special cameras and extra missions.
While the main missions are both fun and accessible, their varying degrees of difficulty on each planet is a little skewed – given that it mostly depends on which robots are used together – and can also be quite repetitive. There are often lulls in gameplay, where I’ve been sat for 10 to 15 seconds doing nothing but eye twitches as I slowly slide into complacency with a side serving of arrogance. And then Guard flips a table and chaos after chaos robot disrupts my entire defence. I’m running out of options, cameras are warping everywhere, and my unfounded arrogance is replaced with a thud in my ears from my heart booming its regret. With the mission failed, I can reflect on what went wrong and restart the mission, knowing exactly where the first robot will appear from. It’s in the memorisation of these patterns that make the game so addictive, where it’s not just a mission you want to clear but in the knowledge that you’ll have an insatiable need to defeat it.
Yet it’s the short, intense extra missions that are most enjoyable. Players will need to protect Re:Bots, which are small cute, dog-like androids that jump and squeal much to my amusement, or must snatch security cameras back from pesky combat robots in the map. There’s enough variation here to give it such a snappy satisfaction, you’ll want to climb up the ranks in order to unlock more.
Star Fox Guard also has its moments of dread, however. The visuals and designs of enemy robots are bland, while the maps’ aesthetics barely even scratch the surface of Star Fox’s luxurious planets. Clarity can also be an issue in the game too, with cameras around the side feeling much smaller than they should, distorting the overall experience. With very little difference in the game’s tone of music, there’s also problems with the GamePad’s sensitivity. When moving the cameras to specific places on the map, there’s a clunky feeling as if there’s a miniature robot lugging a huge camera around, huffing and puffing as it goes. An option to enhance or decrease the camera’s sensitivity certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Of course, there’s no off-TV play either, with Guard being limited to its dual screen movements.
For those who want to make use of Guard’s online play, you’ll be able to access My Squad and My Rivals areas after completing all missions on Corneria. In My Squad, players can create new levels and upload them to Nintendo’s server, Super Mario Maker style for others to experience. Though you can play both on the server with random player match ups and levels from those of your friends too, it’s very limited in its map creation options giving it a rather tasteless appeal.
A short-lived game for many, Star Fox Guard does what it says on the tin as a tower defence game. Its use of dual screen mode makes for superb gameplay, but is let down by its degraded visuals, stagnant main missions, and very limited online experience. Despite everything, Slippy still can’t catch a break.
Interested in reading our Star Fox Zero review? You can do so here.
Filed under: Nintendo, Wii U Tagged: first, review, Star Fox Guard
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