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Star Fox Guard- A forgotten gem from a forgotten system


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Ahh the Wii-U. That unpopular kid sitting in the middle of the school of incredible Nintendo systems. It's so obsolete and sandwiched between two much more successful console releases. So much potential, but so little attempts to polish up some seriously solid titles that utilize the unique dual screen features. There are indeed a few gems hidden away in never ending obscurity, and Star Fox: Guard is one of them.

First, this is not a Star Fox game. The title is very misleading on that end. People who bought this game looking for a traditional Star Fox style SHMUP were undoubtedly disappointed. This is in fact a Slippy Toad game, as he is the star of the show here. In fact, I reckon that if this game were called Slippy Toad: Guard, it would have been received much better. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is considered a solid title, after all. If it were called Super Mario: Treasure Tracker, maybe not so much.

Also, this is not your traditional shmup.  The best way I would describe this game is SHMUP meets RTS. Your goal is to protect a mining tower from a horde of robots by strategically placing cameras with gun mounts and switching between them on the Wii-U gameplay. The active camera is displayed on the TV, with the Gamepad acting as a sort of radar. When the action starts, the robots come marching in a pre determined pattern like a traditional shmup and you need to destroy them before they make it to the base and attack it. Simple, right? Well, yes. And that's what makes the game great. The early levels start out nice and simple with combat robots that destroy the tower and chaos robots that attack the cameras. The chaos robots purpose is to distract you so the combat robots(which are amusingly designed to look like ROB) can sneak through. When you defeat all of the combat robots, it is on to the next stage.

This is when the difficulty begins to ramp up. As levels progress, so do the robots abilities. UFO robots steal cameras from overhead. Combat robots with invisibility barriers that can only be seen on radar start sneaking by, and my least favorite, super fast robots that ride on missiles come flying in giving you seconds to react or it is game over. Fortunately the game gives you gun upgrades, such as slow motion cameras, making robots trying to sip by slow to a crawl, giving you a fighting chance to destroy them. You only have a limited amount you can place around your base so choose wisely!

The execution of the game is spot on. The action is intense as you switch focus between the gameplay and the TV to keep the horde at bay. The difficulty curve is just right. It starts out easy and gets progressively harder. My main complaint is that the story mode is rather short with only 25ish missions. There are unlockable missions to give some extra content as you level up also. All in all, there is probably about 10-15 hours of gameplay. But for the bargain basement price of 2.99 that game stop is charging for it, it is well worth it. While Slippy Toad, erm, I mean Star Fox: Guard, is not an all time great, it is an excellent title that executes the dual screen capabilities of the Wii-u very well.

8/10

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  • 1 year later...

Fantastic write-up! Guard is such a great, overlooked title. I like its use of the dual-screen, which we didn't see enough of. So many games just cloned the TV and the gamepad, it's neat when games like this (or ZombiU) really tap into what that system could do.

I wonder if that style of play is going to come back. Nintendo has been dabbling in phone games, and I could see a new Nintendo release that utilizes a phone app. It would be cool even as a phone, no app ... imagine linking your cell number and getting pre-recorded voice calls or texts about what to do next in your heist! It could be a lot of fun.

I think people will look back on the WiiU as a bit ahead of its time (even if in some ways it was also behind!) and I could see a collecting craze really taking hold for the system. (Maybe there has been one, I don't pay attention to game markets anymore.)

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