Star Fox Guard - Wii U Review

All the Fun of Being a Security Guard - In a Game!

Star Fox Guard
The robots are coming!. Nintendo

Pros: Unusual premise. Some exciting moments.
Cons: Switching cameras is awkward. Gets old fast.

If there’s one thing we all dream of, it’s to become a security guard. That, at least, seems to be the assumption of Star Fox Guard, a quirky little security guard simulator that gives players gun-equipped security cameras and robot enemies determined to breach your defenses. At the least, it’s probably more fun than being a security guard at Walmart.

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Developed and published by: Nintendo
Genre: Casual
For ages: 10 and up
Platform: Wii U (exclusive)
Release Date: April 22, 2016

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The Basics: Watch the Monitors, Shoot the Robots

In Guard, which can be purchased on the eShop but is also bundled with the disk version of Star Fox Zero, players take control of a small, mazelike compound with multiple entrances. You can see all of the compound plus the wilderness just outside through 12 security cameras. Robots flood through the ungated entrances, some attempting to disable your cameras while others aim to destroy the machine at the compound’s center that you are supposed to defend.

The player’s TV display is ringed by small views of the 12 cameras, with a larger view of one camera in the center. The center monitor is controlled by the player, who can use it to aim and fire a weapon at invaders.

A map on the gamepad screen shows the compound, the cameras, and any robots inside the perimeter. You can change primary cameras by tapping the camera icons on the touchscreen. Unfortunately, fumbling with the screen to choose cameras is bothersome; it’s a shame you can’t simply flick an analog stick towards the one you want.

The Details: Special Cameras and Simple Game Design Tools

Before each level you have the option to reposition the cameras, although they are usually set up pretty well by default. You can also move cameras while playing, which is useful if a robot breaks a one or a flying saucer beams down a transmission blocker. As you progress, you will deal with robots that explode into smoke bombs or carry shields that make them invulnerable from the front. From time to time you will take on a giant boss robot.

Destroying robots gains you metal scrap used to unlock special camera powers like the ability to briefly slow time or to shoot multiple enemies at once. In a typically goofy Nintendo touch, each level ends with a cutesy, singing animal fetching all the broken metal and giving it to you. Metal also unlocks bonus missions with special criteria.

The game also has an online mode of sorts. You can create your own levels, which simply means you choose a maze and decide when each robot will enter it and from where. Upload this and other players can beat your levels in order to rank up. I’m sure there’s an art to creating a good level – the one I created seems to have been pretty easy to beat – but it wasn’t an art I was intrigued to learn.

The Verdict: Fun ... for Awhile

At first I rather enjoyed Star Fox Guard, but after a couple of hours, I was just plain bored. It is a very simple game that doesn’t really have anywhere to go, a casual game that is a bit too elaborate to manage the simple, addictive nature of a casual classic like Tetris yet lacks the complexity and variety that would make it feel like more than a slight diversion.

It can be exciting when the robots are flooding in and your cameras are on the fritz and you stop that last robot just in the nick of time, but it is only exciting so many times before it’s just more of the same. After that, you’re just another security guard, staring at monitors, thinking maybe you’d be better off getting a job at Walmart where at least you’d get paid to do this.