Review: Star Fox Guard

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing 6180 the Moon on Wii U for N-Europe. It was a game I thoroughly enjoyed and, for all its fun game play ideas and mechanics, my overriding feeling was one of wondering why I hadn't been playing this game in 2012 for the launch of the U, such was its clever use of the GamePad. So it's with a sense of déjà vu that I write this review of Star Fox Guard with a tremendous amount of 'what if's and 'if only's. In my mind it is no exaggeration to say that this could have been the Wii U's Wii Sports, showing off the technology to an audience unsure as to what his GamePad and TV combination was all about. As it is, Guard is a quality little game only hindered by the fact that it has missed the boat completely. 

One of the first things that really struck me about Star Fox Guard was its great use of the Star Fox license. Don't get me wrong, this could easily have been a Mario or Zelda game. It could have been a great opportunity to do something different with the Splatoon franchise in fact. So it's a very malleable concept that started as merely "Project Guard" in 2014; a response from Shigeru Miyamoto to Nintendo's realisation that, in fact, they weren't using the GamePad for anything innovative and certainly weren't being the pioneers behind their own hardware designs.

But Nintendo has gone all in with the Star Fox theme for this, and it really pays off. From the menus to the music, the characters and the settings, it's got really high Star Fox production values and has really whetted my appetite for Zero as well. It would have been a really good precursor to the main game if it had been released say a few weeks before Zero's launch, bringing gamers a different gameplay style whilst getting them humming the tunes, soaking up the Corneria sun and maybe convincing anyone on the fence to get into the Star Fox spirit of things and to give Zero a go.

Star Fox Guard
Story-wise the game is very paper thin, as you might expect. After a nice little cameo by Fox, Peppy and Falco, it's left to Slippy Toad and his Uncle Grippy to show you the ropes. Grippy owns a metal scavenging business, and he wants you to protect his business empire from the comfort of the control room on Corneria. 

Although you initially start by defending bases on Corneria, the game brings in different locales from the Star Fox series, such as Titania and Zoness. However these aesthetic changes do little to alter the main game, which keeps its core gameplay throughout. 

In the centre of Grippy's plantation is a tower that does his work for him and it's your job to protect that from the hordes of robots that are sent to destroy it. You have twelve cameras set up around the area which you are free to move around to make sure no blind spots hinder your success. Handily before you start the mission you get a rough outline of where most of the enemies will come from, allowing you to make sure you're double or tripled up where you need to be. There are different classes of robots that will descend on the base, but by and large to complete each defence you need to take out one specific type. As you progress through the levels it's great to see the fun the designers must have had with this, making UFO robots who start beaming up your cameras, to the ones that play falsified footage into your screen so you think that everything is alright, when in reality you are getting swamped.

Star Fox GuardThe game also generates some fantastically stressful moments. On the TV you have the main camera you're operating in the middle, which is then surrounded by the remaining eleven screen. On each of these you can see the danger approaching and you need to plan ahead accordingly. In fact multitasking is an absolute necessity here, as you'll need to be shooting the oncoming enemy, checking your other screens to see where you need to go to next, and then using the touch screen to select the correct camera you want to use next. You have to stay sharp and do your best not to let the music speeding up or the "warning" siren get to you, as it can get get quite overwhelming at points. However I stress this is from a positive gameplay point of view, rather than with faults in the game. The control scheme may sound complicated but it really is not and having this element of multitasking while being under pressure really makes Star Fox Guard not only incredibly enjoyable but also immensely satisfying when you manage to complete a mission where the odds felt stacked against you.

Each world is split into roughly nine stages, divided between three different maps. There are also about four unlockable stages per world as well, and by and large the higher your rank goes the more levels you will unlock. Ranking up will also unlock you more bonuses, such as different camera option like the lock on, freeze shot or even the ability to slow down time from one specific camera. Ranking up depends on how much you scavenge at the end of each level from simply defeating enemies to other variables like sniper shooting, lock on combos and destroying every single robot, known as a perfect guard.

Star Fox GuardThe online play is fairly limited, but still retains the fun of the single player experience. You can either create your own oncoming horde of robot waves or take on other players attempts from around the world. The more robots you come up against in the single player, the more you will have to use online to fill out your onslaught. It goes without saying but the more classes of robots you have, the better your chance of defeating the base defender. It's neither Mario Maker or Splatoon in its offering, but it's a very welcome addition to the game

I was actually pleasantly surprised at just how much there was to do in Guard. The game offers a wealth of unlockable levels on top of the main game experience, and the online part means that ostensibly should the game take off there could be endless levels to play against and create yourself. I mean it's definitely a companion piece to Star Fox Zero rather than a full game offering, however at £12.99 (€14.99) as a standalone price it really is very good value for money. 

Overall I found Star Fox Guard to be a really enjoyable tower defence game that makes great use of the Wii U GamePad. What is sadly too little too late for the console itself should not impede your enjoyment of this game, and at a very reasonable £12.99 (€14.99) it offers not only an experience you won't find anywhere else, but also great value for money as well. 

N-Europe Final Verdict

Star Fox Guard shows off the GamePad in a fantastic way, it is just a shame it came so late in the Wii U's life. With plenty of fun to be had at a reasonable price, and potential for a long life due to its online features, it is worth picking up.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Great use of GamePad
Great use of Star Fox franchise
Gun and frantic gameplay
Good value


Too little too late for the hardware
A supplement to the main game
Some audio issues

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