Developer(s) – Nintendo EPD & Platinum Games
Publisher(s) – Nintendo
Director(s) – Yugo Hayashi & Teruaki Konishi
Producer(s) – Tadashi Sugiyama & Atsushi Inaba
PEGI – 7
Developed alongside the long-anticipated Star Fox Zero with the working title Project Guard initially attached to it, Star Fox Guard is a tower defense game that much to my surprise received mixed reviews from critics upon release. Stephen Totilo of Kotaku, on the other hand, hailed the game as one of Nintendo’s most distinct titles in a long time, and I would agree with him; not only is this one of the best entries in the Star Fox series in my opinion, but it is certainly also one of the best games on the Wii U, and very much worth investing a great deal of time in.
Graphics – 7/10
Critics have described this game’s visuals as bland, and in my opinion, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a fair amount of variety in enemy and boss design in particular, as well as stage design, with the game taking place on several planets and locations synonymous with the series, and featured in Star Fox Zero. Whilst it’s easy to criticize the game for recycling the graphics and conceptual design of an already existing title, there are still many visual elements that make it stand out from the former, and do well enough to outweigh what elements have been re-used.
Gameplay – 8/10
The concept of the game is to defend each base featured in each level from robots looking to invade and destroy them. The player must utilize a series of camera turrets positioned around the base to destroy the enemies before they reach the center of the base. There are over 100 missions to complete, as well as the added facility to create customized levels and share them online with other players. I personally found it to be an extremely enjoyable and experience, as well as a challenging one without it being too inaccessible. There is also an RPG element to it in the form of leveling up and unlocking new weapons and items to help along the way, which gives it that much more replay value and always works well in conjunction with a tower defense game.
Controls – 10/10
Amidst some critic’s concerns over the somewhat sketchy control scheme of Star Fox Zero, the controls in Star Fox Guard are seamless. Despite the fact that numerous different buttons can be used to shoot, the way in which the motion controls work is extremely well-executed and makes for some of the most fun that can be had with the Wii U’s GamePad. I can’t help but think that if this game had been a launch title, the Wii U would have had a much more successful launch period than what it did. It does a better job of showcasing the potential appeal of the console than many other games released before it.
Originality – 7/10
As I alluded to, I agree with Stephen Totilo on his view that this is one of Nintendo’s most unique titles in recent years. It’s reminiscent of something that may have been found in Nintendo Land, which in my opinion, and many other critic’s opinions, is a game that deserves more credit than both the initials and current commercial success of the Wii U would seem to suggest. Arguably this game is better than Star Fox Zero, but although I can’t yet make that assessment for myself, I certainly found it to be an immensely unique and fun game.
Overall, Star Fox Guard is a distinct, challenging, and enjoyable gaming experience; certainly one of the better of which to have been released since the Wii U’s launch. With the Wii U likely being phased out soon by the NX’s launch next year, this game is on the fast track to becoming a hidden gem, and it deserves a lot more recognition than that in my opinion.