Star Fox Guard Review
Developer: Nintendo EAD/Platinum Games
Publisher: Nintendo of America
ESRB Rating: E10
A Copy Was Acquired Through the Purchase of Star Fox Zero
Nintendo seems to always be taking different takes and spins on different types of genres. Whether it be the shooting genre with Splatoon or racing with Mario Kart 8, we now have Nintendo trying their hand on the Tower Defense genre with Star Fox Guard. Needless to say, Nintendo has once again worked their magic, taking an already established genre they have not dealt with before and adding their own Nintendo Flare to it.
In Star Fox Guard you are the newest employee at Grippy Toad’s mining facility, your position is that of a security guard of sorts.
You have to protect the mining spot from an onslaught of robots coming into the facility from all angles. The moment a certain robot hits the core reactor, it’s game over. To defend the mining plant you are put in charge of a camera system around the plant. By using the Wii U gamepad you can switch between different cameras on the screen and shoot any incoming robots that are trying to enter the facility. And in a nutshell that is the gist of the entire game. For a tower defense game, this works extremely well. You will spend a lot of your time looking at the main TV’s 12 different cameras and using the Wii U gamepad to pick which one you want to focus on the most. The way the Wii U gamepad works with the TV in this case is almost flawless. While playing the game I actually got immersed in the experience where I felt I was actually a security guard managing several cameras at once.
Your main target in this game is the endless sea of robots attacking the mining facility. The game splits the robots up into two different classes. The Chaos class is meant for the sole purpose of distracting you from the other class. The chaos class will do its best to disrupt your camera signals from either temporarily shooting them down, to dropping smoke bombs, to abducting them straight from the game. You will have to balance your time out with thinking if it’s worth taking out the chaos class or focusing your effort on the combat class, the ones who are truly after the main reactor. Finding the balance for to taking out these kind of robots is crucial and will make the difference between a new high score and the mining facility falling.
One of the nice little touches this game had to offer was the amount of personality each robot had in the game. They made the game feel a bit more alive instead of just an army of clones marching into a maze to be shot at. Depending on their type they will react to being spotted on camera very differently, some will even try to hightail it out as fast as they can. It’s just a nice, simple touch that each robot has their own life and personality. The robots managed to breathe in a nice bit of life into the game. Despite some of them being downright annoying. Stupid UFOs, abducting my best cameras.
As you play through the game you unlock different camera upgrades in which you can give cameras special attributes. These attributes range from slowing down time to being able to lock onto and shoot multiple different enemies.
You unlock these upgrades, along with special missions, through leveling up. You gain experience by the amount of robots you defeat if you clear a mission by defeating all of the robots in the wave you will get an end of the round bonus. This is actually where the game tries to reel you in with replay value by replaying missions again, and re-doing challenge missions to gain more experience to unlock more cameras and missions.
In terms of length this game is a bit short when it comes to its main campaign, and can be completed in about three to five hours. Each of the different planets you have to defend offer their own unique maps, and offer very interesting boss encounters. The game also has a large amount of challenge missions you can unlock, these challenges will vary from either defeating an army of airborne enemies, to only being able to fight off enemies with two moveable cameras and many more options.
There is also an online component which in a nutshell is basically the single player campaign again, but instead you are fighting against wave of enemies constructed by other players in an attempt to increase your rank. If you manage to clear another player’s course your rank will go up, or if you create a map in which a player cannot complete your rank will also go up. It will go down, however, if you fail the mission so be careful when you do this.
However, I should now mention that this leads to another problem I have: the game at times can get a bit boring after extended periods of play. For a tower defense game, the game is very simplistic. The deepest part of its depth is deciding which cameras to use and which position you want to place them. I feel like more things could have been added to the game to prevent a bit of a grindy feel of going through hordes of robots. Sometimes, when things get really hectic, you can spin a camera around in a way that may not be the best way to leave it, and with the game being so fast paced you may not always have the time to recalibrate the camera back to normal. A simple button press allowing the player to put a camera back into its default spot would have been quite handy.Another thing that would have gone a long way would be mission briefings before each battle.
Before you start, you get a name of the mission you are about to do, see what combat class robots you will be fending off and then the mission starts. Getting a short blurb of text explaining what to expect in this wave of fighting would have been great.
Overall Star Fox Guard is a great experimental game into the Tower Defense genre, and while compared to more traditional Tower Defense games, it is a bit lacking in substance, it is still a solid first attempt, and I would love to see Nintendo and Platinum Games work more on this series and expand it into a wider scope.
+Solid Tower Defense Game
+Fun pick up and play
+Fun challenges while they last
-Little Replay Value