Star Fox Guard (Wii U) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 20.04.2016

Review for Star Fox Guard on Wii U

Ever since Nintendo revealed and subsequently launched the Wii U console, critics and fans have wondered just how the Japanese game-maker would cement the GamePad controller as a concept that would add new ways to play. It's been an issue throughout the console's lifetime, and through marketing hiccups and naming problems, Nintendo has released a solid collection of must-have gaming experiences that make the Wii U a compelling platform to invest in. However, that lingering question does remain - how can the GamePad be used to enrich the experience? Miyamoto, the mastermind behind numerous Nintendo titles, was drafted in to produce experiments to showcase these new mechanics, and one of them has been refined as a standalone game: Star Fox Guard.

Originally announced at E3 2014 as Project Guard, the game was the vision of Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto, a unique little gem that would see you thrown into a complex built up with narrow, maze-like corridors and tasked with a the sole job of protecting the place from ruthless robot intruders.

Fast forward to almost two years later and Nintendo and the folk at Platinum Games have taken the demo forward and added a splash of Star Fox to the proceedings, building up a purpose and storyline to bind it all together as a standalone title, Star Fox Guard.

Whilst Guard is designed an arcade game, there is a plot that delves into just why you're sitting in the security guard seat and pelting robots with a sprinkling of lasers. A new chap, Grippy Toad, yes, Grippy, is a clever entrepreneur that appears to be an amalgamation of Lord Alan Sugar and Basil Brush. As the president of Coneria Precious Metals Ltd, his mission is to scavenge different planets for rare metals through different facilities scattered across space.

These unmanned stations are protected by twelve security cameras, but with a twist. Instead of simply providing a video stream of these long, foreboding corridors, the AegisCam setup is equipped with on-board weapons to allow for intruders to be, well, shot at remotely. This is where you come in; a new recruit that Grippy tasks with the challenging role of being the only person to protect the place.

Screenshot for Star Fox Guard on Wii U

The core setup is simple; yet offers plenty of depth as the story unfolds: the twelve camera feeds are shown on the TV screen, with an overhead map on the GamePad. By tapping on any of the working cameras on the touch-screen, it'll activate and allow you to move it around; blasting away at enemies before they arrive at the tower. The main goal in the regular missions is to stop a certain type of enemy - the Combat Class - from destroying the tower, with other units - the Chaos Class - living up to their namesake by being utter pains-in-the-backside, causing a manner of distractions.

At first, the game keeps it simple with bobbing Goomba-esque units that stroll casually into the base, and A.T.K bots that shrink and start scurrying along fast when taking the first blow. Destroy these, and mission complete. Simple. However, each of the numerous missions try to attempt something different and whilst the core premise remains a game of defence, each of the different enemy units force a specific strategy, maintaining the interest and shaking things up between levels.

The more interesting, and downright frustrating (yet challenging), enemies include a UFO that hovers above and can abduct cameras, tiny little bots that have the ability to avoid the radar yet be seen on camera, or disappear yet be visible on the GamePad's screen. There are even chicken bots who enjoy making love to cameras and ghost-like units who have the uncanny ability to randomly teleport around. It's utterly bizarre, yet compelling to see what other enemies Nintendo have up their sleeve. Fortunately not all of these foes will be on the playing field on each map, and the briefing for each will describe which of the Combat Class will be attacking to get an idea of what's coming.

Once the pace picks up, there'll certainly be a fair bit of looking up at the TV and down at the GamePad - fortunately it's not quite a case of head-banging like you're at a Crush 40 concert, but well-timed glances to swap cameras or a peek at the radar to see if any invaders are on the brink of winning. There's a clever balance, without any problematic gyro/motion controls - simple, yet effective, touch-screen taps and the analogue stick for aiming.

Screenshot for Star Fox Guard on Wii U

Conquering missions and taking down a majority, if not all, baddies boosts a player stat level that rewards you with new types of camera and additional, more unique, missions as part of the story mode. The camera units range from the ability to freeze baddies, and even lock onto multiple at once - they are activated by simply selecting a camera and swapping these over. It adds a neat new layer to the core formula by becoming hugely important in some scenarios.

Beyond the additional weapons and different types of units, Star Fox Guard perhaps doesn't serve up as many layers as similar titles in the Tower Defence genre, as it sticks firmly to the core premise and level design throughout the long list of environments, without going too far into the ruleset. Environmental options, building elements or more automated functionality could have perhaps have been the next step to flesh out the idea further, but where it does work is the frantic nature of the enemy units, and how their routes can be set to unpredictable - it does what it sets out to do well.

Each zone or planet is broken down into three distinct areas, with prime and additional missions, plus a final challenge to make things that bit more complex - whether it's a cheeky bird that's frantically plucking at the tower like it's the juiciest worm, or an onslaught of Ape-like droids that need to be shot at quite a few times to defeat.

Screenshot for Star Fox Guard on Wii U

After tackling the prime mode, the game's longevity comes in either replaying the missions for a perfect score or playing indirectly with other tower defence gurus online through the "My Squad" mode, a feature where enemy spawns are plotted out on a timeline - whether it's bombarding opponents all at one go towards the start, or pacing it out a bit through sneak attacks and clever distractions.

The setup is easy: simply drag units onto a timeline and specify which entrance point it'll use. Pop them in, test it out, and upload for others to try and attempt. The settings are perhaps a little limited in how ruthless you can be, with only a handful of units allowed per second and some not allowed to overlap, but it does allow for the potential to have unique hordes each time. Having played a particular level with multiple squads online, each provided a fresh challenge - some demanding nippy reactions and others requiring a bit of a waiting game before the main event.

There's certainly a fair bit of content packaged into essentially what's being pitched as a bonus game; an extra title to complement the Star Fox Zero experience, whether it's the solo missions or the My Squad feature. The variation in enemies and scenarios do keep things fresh, but whether there's enough to stand the test of time purely depends on whether tower defence titles are your thing and whether the community uploads thrive.

Screenshot for Star Fox Guard on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Star Fox Guard is a smart use of the GamePad controller, by using the touch-screen as a radar to add another layer of what's happening on the TV screen. A simple concept that has an arcade, frantic feel whilst slotting into the Star Fox universe with a handful of cheesy (though unfortunately voiceless) dialogue. The game perhaps could have done with more tower defence elements to extend the idea further, but as a standalone package it's a compelling little gem that does well in framing the GamePad's benefits and is worth a try.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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