At E3 2014 Shigeru Miyamoto was all giddy because he came up with three amazing ideas to showcase the Wii U’s true potential: some weird interplanetary space zoo/flying sim, Project Giant Robot and Project Guard.
I remember the moment when Project Guard was first shown and how everyone was excited about its premise. And by everyone, I mean no one, the tech demo initial reception was a bit lukewarm, it wasn’t until some fancy members of the press got the chance to try it for themselves that the game popped up in the radar.
The gist of Project Guard was that you acted as a security guard who’s in charge of monitoring twelve security cameras and protect the contents of the vault. The gimmick was that you were using both the Gamepad and the TV screen to keep track of the intruders. In the TV you had the security mainframe with the 12 monitors, while the Gamepad had an overhead view of the layout of the facility. The player had to switch between both views to keep the pests away.
Of the three ideas showcased two years ago, two survived. The flying sim became Star Fox Zero and Project Guard was given the honor of becoming a spin-off title and received the name of Star Fox Guard.
Unfortunately for Project Giant Robot the idea got canned and never saw the light of day. At least we can remember it for that epic moment in E3 2014 when Boxy Trinen fought Fils-a-Mech.
So… ummm where was I? Oh yes… Star Fox Guard is, believe it or not, a tower defense game, you know like Plants vs Zombies, but without singing sunflowers or pesky moon dancing zombies. In lieu of the brain eating creatures we have something creepier…
This guy. His name is Grippy Toad, he’s Slippy’s uncle and he owns a mining company. The thing is… his ambition went overboard. Grippy built a ton of bases all over the Lylat System, but he has no one to take care of them. That’s when you enter the scene, or well… I should say your mii.
Grippy, ermm… grips you out of the blue and puts you in the limelight. He says to you “Hoooo boy! I need someone I can pay minimum wage while I keep all the profits from my facilities. Your goal is to protect the base from those pesky zombie robots that only want to eat my brain... ermm, I mean destroy the core of the base. So get a move on and git gud!”
And that’s pretty much how you start the game, no instructions, no nothing. Obviously you fail the mission and that’s when everyone’s favorite intergalactic pilot shows up.
Slippy quickly instructs you how the game works. You have the aforementioned twelve cameras and the top down view of the facility. Between both views is up to you to defend the base by shooting down the robots.
He further elaborates that there are two classes of robots:
- Combat robots go for the goal and that’s about it. They come in many different shapes and forms, but that’s not for me to tell and for you to find out.
- Chaos robots on the other hand are probably what makes this game so fun. They don’t care about the core of the base, their sole purpose is to have fun… at your expense. The daily routine of a chaos robot is to approach the base, look at the cameras and say: “‘hoy look at that funny looking eye, I wonder what would happen if I blow up right next to it?” or “‘hoy look at that funny looking eye, I wonder what would happen if I blow a stream of wind at it?” or….
You get the idea, right? Slippy then explains how you select cameras in the Gamepad’s touchscreen by tapping on them and how you can change the position of the cameras as you please, even while defending the base. Y’know, the basics.
And that’s pretty much what Star Fox Guard is… Review done. GO BUY NAO!
No really… let me sleep. Buy it. You won’t regret it, it costs $15 or the price of three disgusting Subway sandwiches. You don’t need to eat this week.
Okay, okay… let’s elaborate.
Star Fox Guard main quest is spread across five planets in the Lylat System, with each planet having a particular gimmick. Corneria is your vanilla stage, Titania has sandstorms that block your view, Zoness has oil spills that make the robots move faster. You need to clear ten missions in each of these planets to move up to the next celestial body. Nine of those missions are your regular security guard affair, while the last one is usually reserved for a boss fight or a special challenge.
These missions are pretty short and quite sweet. They’re also stressful. You know keeping track of twelve cams is no easy task, I feel bad for those real life security guards. I think after all this time I finally understand why people like Five Nights at Freddy’s so much... Anyway, clearing the missions are usually a cake walk, the levels are not too challenging as long as you don’t have the attention span of the small dog from Two Stupid Dogs.
Now here’s the deal, and this is what separates Star Fox Guard from those trashy games out there. You can level up.
After completing each level a hybrid dog/toad called RiBot (get it… because he’s a robot that looks like a toad, although he behaves more like a dog) collects all the precious metals the robots leave behind when they meet burning end of your laser shots.
These metals are tallied up and become the experience points that are required to gain a level. The better you protect the base, the more points you get. The more points you get, the faster you’ll level up. It’s basic ribbit science.
When you level up you unlock new cameras, new challenges and some other cosmetics changes that no one should care about.
New cameras come in all varieties and colors:
- Lock-on cam: a camera that can lock-on to up to five targets (take that, you puny landmaster and your limit of three targets).
- Slow cam: a camera that does exactly what the name implies.
- Charge cam: A camera that can charge up shots just like the Arwing.
- And many many many more cameras that as of now I’m allowed to mention, but I will take the easy route of not discussing them.
Now here’s the caveat, the game limits the amount of cameras you can customize, otherwise it would be too easy.
Challenges are new levels with special conditions:
- The Sharpshooter challenge limits the amount of shots you can take.
- The Survival challenge sends you waves of enemies one after the other, the catch here is that destroyed cameras don’t return after a few seconds.
- The Squawkie Walk Challenge, a personal favorite. I’ll leave this one to your imagination.
Challenge levels are la creme de la creme of Star Fox Guard. While the main quest missions are used to introduce you to the new enemy bots and gimmicks, challenges just blow everything out of proportion. They spice up the gameplay and leave you craving for more. And don’t worry… there are 50 challenge levels to keep you busy for a lot of time.
But that’s not all… Star Fox Guard has one last mode you should at least dedicate some time into. The experimental online mode called World Rivals, where you can create your own army of bots and attack other player, au contraire you can also defend your base from enemy squads.
Now, not everything is fine and dandy in this mode. Defending bases from friends and strangers is fun, but creating your squads…. Not so much. It isn’t that the process is arduous or anything, but more so that it is limiting. The problem with creating your squads is that every bot has a preset path they take to reach the core of the base, and you cannot modify these paths. These limitations just make the whole deal more like a sour candy.
It’s a real shame because this mode has the potential to become huge, like Super Mario Maker kind of huge. Just imagine having the freedom to not only create your squads but also adjusting the level layout to amp up the challenge.
And this is just me brainstorming ideas with three cups of coffee and zero food in my system. The possibilities are endless… or at least they should be.
Oh yeah... there’s amiibo support in this game. It’s extremely shallow.
Star Fox Guard is surprisingly the best of the two titles that were released today. Maybe it’s because it came out of the blue, maybe it’s because no one ever expected anything good to come out of it or maybe it’s because it’s a novel idea that a group of developers put a lot of love and thought into it.
Don’t overthink it… go buy the game.
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