During the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Mr. Miyamoto showed off a couple of games for the Wii U that made extensive use of the GamePad’s unique features. One was called Project Giant Robot and featured two giant mechanical beasts fighting one-on-one Godzilla-style. It still has yet to see a release of any kind. The other game was titled Project Guard, which had the player trying to fend off an enemy robot invasion via a network of security cameras armed with laser beams. This prototype morphed into Star Fox Guard and is currently packed in with every retail copy of Star Fox Zero. Alternatively it can be purchased on its own via the Wii U eShop for $14.99 if you so desire.
Slippy’s uncle, whose name just happens to be Grippy, owns a bunch of mining facilities that are part of his profitable company, Corneria Precious Metal, Ltd. He has hired you to guard the tower that resides at the center of each building from ever-increasing waves of robot attacks. To achieve this you’ll need to watch twelve separate video feeds on your TV for any suspicious activity. Once you spot an enemy robot you’ll need to tap the corresponding camera on the map of the GamePad to gain control of that specific feed. Then all you need to do is line up the camera’s laser with the mechanical bad guy and destroy it.
As you may have guessed, Star Fox Guard is a tower defense game. Your objective is to stop the various robot types from invading the building and making it to the core. If any of them manage to sneak by your security perimeter it’s game over. There are two types of enemies: chaos class bots and combat class bots. At the beginning of each round you’ll be shown how many combat bots need to be destroyed to win. As such, this enemy class takes priority. But, you won’t want to ignore the chaos bots, as they are a very disruptive bunch. They can cause all sorts of havoc, like blowing up your security cams, causing interference so you can’t see what’s happening, or even hijacking your video feed to allow other bots to drive on by without you seeing them. Needless to say, if you see any movement in any sector, it’s best to switch to that feed and start firing those laser cannons.
At the end of each round you’ll earn precious metals that will fill up a gauge. As the gauge fills you will unlock new cameras that you can then outfit in your facilities. For example, the lock-on cam allows you to target a group of enemies and dispatch them all at the same time. At the beginning of the stage you’ll have time to setup where you want each camera to be located in the base and which direction they’re facing. It’s up to you do devise a strategy to best keep the robots at bay.
I have to admit that when I first saw footage of this game I was rather unexcited. It’s truly one of those games you have to play for yourself to see the appeal. It’s very deceptively addicting once you begin and I found myself playing “just one more round” until the wee hours of the morning. The concept is very simple and the play mechanics aren’t really anything revolutionary, but the execution is great and the game keeps things fresh as you progress. I like the little nods thrown in here, like how one of the main enemies looks just like R.O.B. the robot from the NES. If you need a little extra firepower you can tap the Falco or Fox amiibo to call in an airstrike on many of the levels. This is limited to once per day so you can’t abuse the feature, but it’s a nice little cheat when you’re in a pickle.
Star Fox Guard features a creation mode as well. You can build your own squads of enemies, telling them where and when to enter the base. These challenges can then be uploaded for other players to try and conquer. Of course you can try your hand at playing custom maps that others have uploaded as well.
I rather enjoyed my time with Star Fox Guard. It’s a very nice addition to the Star Fox Zero package and one of the better tower defense games I’ve played. It has that Nintendo magic sprinkled in to make it very approachable to a wide spectrum of gamers, but ramps up in challenge for the more experienced. With plenty of unlockable levels and new perks being gained as battles are won, the game features a decent amount of content to keep most people busy for hours. Having said that, there are a limited number of enemy types and the concept never really expands in any dramatic way throughout, which is probably why it retails for a lower price. Don’t expect a 30-hour game, unless you really get into the creation aspects. I came away impressed with the final game and think you will too.