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E3 2014: Connecting Star Fox on Wii U with Project Guard and Project Giant Robot

Bogey on your tail!


Nintendo announced a new Star Fox for Wii U at E3 2014. Hooray! Developer legend Shigeru Miyamoto is on the project, trying to think of creative ways to make the maligned GamePad work with, presumably, doing a bunch of barrel rolls and ignoring Slippy.

Nintendo is showing off Star Fox, which Justin Haywald has already played, and two other tech demos, titled Project Giant Robot and Project Guard. But the robots in Project Guard look like the same as the one in the Star Fox demo. Is there a connection between all three? Are these two tech demos indicative of what might appear in the new Star Fox? "You noticed something very nice there," said Miyamoto to GameSpot when quizzed on the similarities.

"Today, I'm only answering questions about the Star Fox games. But, there will be multiple different kinds of missions in the Star Fox games, so maybe something like that could appear. And I think the robot that came down from the helicopter is the same robot that you were shooting in the security game."

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As for the two tech demos, I had a go at Project Giant Robot and Peter Brown looked into Project Guard:

Project Giant Robot

My first robot was a joke. It had two heads instead of feet, for a start. But who can blame me? I also gave him a cannon for a crotch, because it looked a bit phallic, and stretched the torso so it was as long and thin as possible. Which is probably also a bit phallic, thinking about it.

My first robot wasn’t very good at combat. What a dick.

My second robot, meanwhile, was a rock-em, sock-em fighting machine. With its thick, rotund legs it could easily withstand the attacks of its enemies, and its low centre of gravity meant that it was solid and stable. In Nintendo’s Project Giant Robot tech demo, the objective is to stay standing. I still fell over occasionally.

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Designed in part by Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto, Project Giant Robot is one of the company’s tech experiments as it tries to figure out how to make games for the maligned GamePad. I’d say a fight between towering robots, both the size of skyscrapers and potentially made out of skyscrapers, is a good start. You swing the left and right sticks to swing your robot’s left and right arms, and you plod forward using the right trigger. The robot’s orientation is controlled by the GamePad’s gyro, so you need to swing the thing around as you punch to try and build up the required momentum to floor your opponent. These robots fight against a backdrop of skyscrapers, with the GamePad screen taking a first-person view and the TV itself showing the robotic brawl from a helicopter.

Fighting is all a question of balance, really, and I had the most success in building up a bit of momentum and then just steamrolling over any rival robots. I’ve always found that motion controls tend to work best when they’re used alongside big, sweeping physical moments, which is a natural pairing for these colossal, lumbering machines. Make no mistake: this is not attempting to create precise, technical fights, and I’ll admit that I only really won most bouts by simply falling on the opposition. But it was falling with style.

Project Guard

Based on screenshots and gameplay footage alone, Project Guard isn't a game that screams "excitement," but Shigeru Miyamoto's experimental Wii U tower-defense game will definitely keep you on your toes. The structure that you’re trying to protect is in the middle of a labyrinth that’s under invasion from robots, and you’ve got a dozen cameras equipped with laser cannons to monitor and destroy invaders. Each camera is represented on your TV, but you can only control one at a time, which is represented as a large screen in the middle, which is then surrounded by smaller screens from the rest of the array.

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If you look down at the GamePad screen, you get an overhead view of the labyrinth and the position of cameras and incoming enemies. The only way to switch the active camera is by tapping camera icons on the GamePad, but that creates a problem: when you’re looking at the labyrinth-map, you can't possibly monitor what’s happening on the TV. Monitoring a dozen cameras, switching between them, and firing at incoming enemies is supremely challenging for one person.

Project Guard begs for multiple sets of eyes. With a friend by your side, it's easier to keep track of every camera angle, but the action is still overwhelmingly frantic. It starts slow enough, but eventually, your partner is shouting: "Camera four, wait, camera five! Shoot! Ahh! Camera one! Camera one!" All of the direction helps, but it’s still tough to keep up with every order coming your way. When someone’s shouting in your ear, it's challenging to find the right camera on the GamePad, despite the fact that they’re all clearly labelled.

I can't begin to imagine how Project Guard ties into a Star Fox game, but I almost think it could stand on its own. Hold on a second, I have about 30 robots closing in on my post and someone’s yelling numbers into my ear. I gotta go!

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