Star Fox Guard won’t be for everyone. Serving as a companion piece to the orchestrated spectacle seen in Star Fox Zero, players neatly park their Arwing in the hangar and are instead handed the wide-ranging AegisCam system.
Conceived by Shigeru Miyamoto’s brilliant mind, it was first announced at E3 2014 as Project Guard. The early concept had seen players placed “in a control room that looks like a prison,” where they were required to defeat advancing robotic enemies with 12 cameras.
That objective remains, but the setting has been repainted with Nintendo’s distinct charm. As the newest recruit at Corneria Precious Metals Ltd., company president Grippy Toad – that’s Slippy Toad’s uncle – tasks you in your role as defence specialist to fend off robots that are hell-bent on disrupting his mining operations. Broken down into missions set on several planets that populate the Lylat system, success will come in making sure that you protect the Central Tower situated in each base from damage.
These challenges are split between Main Missions and Extra Missions, the latter being unlocked by steadily ranking up and which pose special parameters such as limiting your ammo – meaning that they are tougher, and often more imaginative, than the standard missions that you will face.
Beneath its primary colour appeal, Star Fox Guard is a refreshing take on the tower defence genre that is riddled with new ideas – mainly requiring that players continually shift their in-game perspective to deal with any incoming threat.
That sees your attention split between quickly glancing up at 12 numbered camera feeds on the TV screen, and downward at the Wii U GamePad, where players can select which camera they want to have under their direct control. Yellow cones indicate their field of view, but you will be more interested in using their mounted lasers to destroy any robots marauding nearby.
Before missions start, players can take the time to position their cameras as they wish – even if the default layout will more often than not see everything in place to achieve a successful defence. As you accomplish more missions, you will soon have access to a wider selection of cameras such as the Lock-On Cam, Slow Cam, Freeze Cam and X-Ray Cam. These all have their own perks – such as letting you fire straight through walls – and considering which are best to use in each scenario will only help you succeed in repelling the robotic invasion.
Those robots are greatly varied too, which all fall into two categories: mischievous Chaos Class bots that interfere with the AegisCam system; and more destructive Combat Class bots, whose sole aim is to destroy the tower. These range from the K.O.F. Unit that leaves a dense smoke cloud behind once destroyed or the Dishruptor that uses electromagnetic waves to take out your cameras. That can often temporarily leave you blind in certain corners of your base, so remaining alert to your attackers is paramount.
If you suddenly feel overwhelmed by the robots roaming your base, you can call in the Star Fox team for Emergency Backup. This requires that you scan your Fox or Falco amiibo before the mission starts, after which you can tap an Arwing icon to see them obliterate all robots with an air strike. Each amiibo can only be used once per day, but this will help overcome some troublesome missions later on.
Online components see you create your own robot squads and tinker with their behaviour, after which you can let them scurry toward bases defended by friends or other players on Miiverse. The editing screen lets you meticulously plan out your attack in devious ways, with the hope that you can catch out and panic whoever they face. However, you can’t have all the dastardly fun. In World Rivals, you can, therefore, look for squads created by others to defend against with success or failure impacting your battle rating – such numerical value reflected in the Battle Badge that you have earned.
It may have come late in the console’s lifecycle, but the robot-zapping mayhem in Star Fox Guard is another reminder of the Wii U GamePad’s largely untapped potential. Who knew that it would be Grippy Toad’s entrepreneurship that would let us witness another flicker?
Version Tested: Wii U
Review copy provided by Nintendo