Starting new IPs can be difficult and quite costly for companies, which is why we sometimes see spin-offs. Instead of investing in something new, they tailor the idea to an existing franchise, in hopes said franchise helps sell the product. Sometimes it works, where as other times it damages the franchise. By adapting a tower defense game to the Star Fox universe, can Star Fox Guard find success or would it be better off doing its own thing?
Star Fox Guard starts off by explaining the point of the game. Apparently you’re helping a small mining company protect materials that aid the efforts of keeping the universe safe. It’s a simple premise, but good enough to give your actions meaning. Plus the basic idea isn’t really expanded on, so it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to oversell a fairly basic idea.
Like a lot of Nintendo games, Star Fox Guard has its own unique take on the tower defense genre. Instead of setting up your defense and planning for the upcoming battle, you instead get a bunch of cameras in fixed locations that you can control. The screen shows you what’s happening on each camera and you need to cycle between them to keep your tower safe.
You start by getting a vague idea of where the enemy is going to attack, how many will be attacking and you’re allowed to position your cameras in anticipation for the attack. Once you start a stage, you need to pay attention to the various screens to find upcoming threats. Upon discovering a threat, you can switch to that camera via the gamepad and then use the thumbsticks to aim and then destroy the target with an attack.
What makes this thrilling is how dynamic it can be. You need to constantly watch all these screens, shift between various cameras and ultimately juggle a lot of elements if you want to be successful. Star Fox Guard attempts to make this harder by giving later stages more openings, along with more complex and annoying enemies to deal with.
There is also a fair bit to do, with plenty of unlockables, additional stages, enemies, badges and more to do. The only downside is that it doesn’t seem to support off-screen play and its enjoyment is directly linked to your ability to keep cool and multitask.
As the enemies start to overwhelm you, Star Fox Guard is nice enough to give you various visual and audio cues, making it quite easy to know when and where something needs to be done, but if you’re not fast enough, it will be a frustrating experience. Especially if you let an enemy slip past your defenses, become fixated on them and then get overran by enemies.
Thankfully, you slowly ease into the more difficult stages, allowing plenty of time to practice and even more to mess around with if you get stuck. Plus, attempting certain stages enough times should give you an idea of what to expect, making the overall experience easier.
Star Fox Guard is a really simple game. It’s little more than watching for enemies, shifting to that location and then taking them out. How enjoyable this is hinges on your ability to multitask. If you can’t focus on three or four things at once or get overwhelmed, you’ll probably find Star Fox Guard very frustrating. But if you can manage these things, it’s a fun title that has a fair bit to see and do.