While adventuring with Fox McCloud in Star Fox Zero, you may wonder from time to time what the people left behind on Corneria get up to when they aren’t being pillaged but Andronian forces. Fox may have monkey trouble, but Grippy Toad, Slippy’s uncle, has robot trouble. Star Fox Guard, which started off as a tech demo at E3 2014 called Project Guard, follows the day to day routine of Grippy’s newest employee (yes, that’s you) in defending his prestigious mining business, Corneria Precious Metals Ltd.
Will Star Fox Guard be as precious as the metals Grippy mines, or will it be as worthless as a lump of coal? Find out in our review, after the break!
Star Fox Guard
Nintendo Wii U
Developed by Nintendo and Platinum Games
Published by Nintendo
Released: 22nd April 2016 (NA/EU)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
The plot of Star Fox Guard follows the life of Grippy’s new employee, that’s you, working at Corneria Precious Metals Ltd. (CPM). All seems peaceful while mining for precious metals, that is until swarms of robots start to head your way, their main purpose? To infiltrate and destroy CPM. Their motive? Well, that’s what you are hoping to discover. Though the plot is fairly simple, it certainly fits a small companion game like this, and there is still a lot of personality to be found in the characters and each of the robots.
Well, there are robots heading your way, but just how are you supposed to do away with these pesky blighters? Luckily, Grippy’s nephew, Slippy Toad, is a gifted mechanic and installed a special security system just for CPM in the form of various cameras fitted with powerful lasers. You’ll travel from facility to facility through a range of various planets from the Lylat system to destroy the onslaught of robots and find out who is behind their mischievous behaviour.
At the beginning of a mission, you are tasked with placing twelve cameras at the mining site you are at, this will require some planning ahead to make sure that you have a good view of every nook and cranny of the site, luckily the map on the GamePad will give a little indication of where the robots are likely to enter from. If you have a change of mind, you can change the placement of the cameras in the middle of the round too. Once you have place all the camera’s, a wave of robots will start to close in. The TV displays 13 different views, the perimeter has 12 small views of each of the cameras, whereas the middle is filled with a large view of the currently selected camera. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to act like a security guard of sorts, you have to monitor each of the cameras for robotic activity, if you see any, you will have to tap the camera number on the GamePad, aim the camera at the robot, and fire your lasers. The robots won’t make it easy for you however.
There are two main types of Robots, Chaos and Combat. Chaos robots will try to stop you from fighting back in every way they know how, they can disrupt camera feeds, steal your cameras, create a cloud of thick smoke, or even send you a fake image. Though these chaos robots can cause a bit of trouble, you want to keep a closer eye on the combat robots, once you’ve destroyed enough of this type, then the rest of the robots will fledge from their attack, but allow even one to get close enough to your central tower then it’s game over man, game over! If you are having a bit of difficulty keeping the Central Tower from the oily hands of the robots, then you can view a replay at the end of every round, no matter the result. You can either view a top-down view, where you can see which robots entered from where, the path they took, as well as which cameras you switch to at which point, or you could view it like how you played the round. This is good as you can find out if you need to change your camera positions or to see what robots sneaked past your view.
The robots are just bursting with spunk and personality, there are short ones which march like soldiers, ones which look like disco balls that emit a nasty smoke screen, and TV shaped ones which climb on your camera and places a false image in front of it, just to name a few. You can even access a little robot guide that will tell you a bit more about each of those quirky pests. Luckily, there is one robot on your side, Re:Bot. This cute little fellow, who was created by Slippy, will hop around at the end of a successful defence, collecting all the scrap metal dropped from destroyed robots. The metal you collect acts like experience points, and levelling up will unlock new missions and cameras. These cameras add specially abilities, like being able to temporarily slow down time, or being able to lock onto five enemies at once, though these abilities are only for the camera it’s attributed to, and you can’t have too many special cameras placed at once.
There are various planets around the Lylat System which host three different Mining Sites. Each mining site has three main missions, plus up to four extra missions which can be unlocked by ranking up and playing more missions. These extra missions have extra rules, these can range from having limited ammo, giving the robots special abilities when the step on a switch, and having only a couple cameras to use. Each site has a different shape and size, and some may even include some hazards, such as vents venting in sand temporarily to obstruct your views. After you have completed all the main missions on a planet, you will be tasked with a fairly difficult defence task, which will pit you against much tougher robots to beat. Though there is quite a bit of variety with missions, and the gameplay can be pretty addicting, it can also become too repetitive if you are playing for too long, so it is clear that Star Fox Guard should probably only be played in short sessions, perhaps it’s good to play if you want to take a breather from flying around in Star Fox Zero.
Though the game is typically single player that fact shouldn’t stop you from getting a few mates together to help you defending your base, just have them keep an eye on the cameras for you, and shout which one has robots in view, it can pose some hilarious results for a mates night in. One cool mode in Star Fox Guard is My Squad. This online mode lets you choose a mining site you have already played and set up your own squad of robots to pit against other players. You choose which types of robots you want to deploy, then just drag them to the timeline. Though this mode is quite fun, I can’t help to feel that it is quite limiting as you are not able to place more that a couple rots too close together on the timeline, and you can only use about five different types of robots (one of which you are unable to change). It is still a nifty little feature nonetheless.
Star Fox Guard is a fantastic tag along to Star Fox Zero, it’s unique take on the tower defence genre is both fun and addicting, and the robots and characters are full of personality to contrast their cold and metallic exteriors. It has a fairly decent amount of replayability with extra missions that have some very interesting twists, and the online My Squad mode that allows you to create your own squad of robots to send to players around the world. Though the gameplay is addicting, it can also strangely become fairly repetitive, so longer play sessions aren’t recommended, though it’s small price tag of $15/£12 is nothing to snuff at, especially if you got it for free with certain retail versions of Star Fox Zero.
If you don’t really enjoy strategy games or are looking for more varied gameplay than what it offered then it may be best to give it a skip. If you love tower defence games and the Star Fox series, and are looking for a game full of character in a small package, then Star Fox Guard is the game for you.
Star Fox Guard will release on the 22nd April 2016 in Europe and North America exclusively for Nintendo Wii U!
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