Star Guard: a lightning raid

A tiny green man sprints down a glowing yellow corridor somewhere deep underground. A couple of his comrades follow at his elbow ready to back him up should he need help. Abruptly the enemy comes into sight ahead. Several red beasts, man shaped but twice the size and with gaping jaws that flop grotesquely as they surge forward. Waiting for just the right moment the green man leaps powerfully into the air, easily clearing the threat below to land behind the charge with adrenaline pumping through his tiny green body. Behind him he hears the crack of blaster fire, the roar of the beasts and then a sickening crunch and muffled screams…

Feeling the rumble of heavy bodies beginning to move again he spins quickly and unleashes a rapid fire barrage from his blaster. The searing lasers pound into flesh and he grins grimly as the red avalanche is halted to come crashing to the ground far from its target. Looking at the screen in concentration, I push the thumbstick on the controller hard to the left, commanding the tiny green man deeper into the darkness...

green protagonist with story showing on screen

The Green Man contemplates

Meet Star Guard; an intense 2D shooter/platformer that will grab and hold your attention for the duration. Straight up the pace of this game is hectic, its difficult enough to be a challenge but the super fast respawns mean that you are constantly throwing yourself at any problem until you overcome it. This means that you are never given a reason to stop playing, you just persevere until the job is done. This coupled with the length of the game, about 30-45minutes the first play through, makes this an intense and addictive burst of gameplay that won't let you stop until you finish.

Star Guard IS its gameplay; The audio is very basic, the graphics are simplistic and the story is token and thin. Is it any surprise then that this is where it shines? Controlling your character is fluid, responsive and gives you a sense of absolute control. This really makes the game fun to play as it puts you in a position of power. The challenge gradually increases as you progress through the 9 levels of the game. Early levels are composed mostly of jumping hazards and close combat enemies. The middle introduces enemies that shoot projectiles and dodging hazards. While the late game ratchets up the difficulty of the hazards, giving the enemies more firepower and allowing less margin for error when jumping or dodging.

green man being ambushed by red beasts

An ambush is sprung

The enemies themselves are well designed and when combined in groups force you into situations where you have to complete lightning dodges to stay alive. Throughout the game you will find enemies are arranged in set pieces designed for exactly this purpose. The other hazard types are also designed well and can be overcome once you work them out and have acquired the requisite dexterity. What really caps all this off is that you feel 100% in control the whole time, if you die you died because you made a mistake, one that could have been avoided. This makes you thirst to beat the challenges because you know you are capable of it.

As an experience Star Guard is like a good cup of coffee; as you consume it it filters through your system, increasing your heart rate, focusing your mind and compelling you forward. After 30 or 40 minutes the experience has run its course leaving you a little tired and jittery, although while it lasted you were happily in it's thrall.

A simple addictive platformer with great controls that will have you glued to your seat for about an hour.

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