R.O.B. the Robot was an adorable add-on for the NES that didn't really work. In Project Guard, Shigeru Miyamoto's Wii U dual-screen take on tower defense, R.O.B. the Robot is an insane stressor, an unrelenting sneak that ruins your carefully-laid security plans.
Playing like a lost Nintendoland mini-game, Project Guard does take keen advantage of the Wii U's often underutilized controller. While only a single person can play at this point, it's also a deeply amusing group activity. Guard certainly doesn't feel like a standalone game, even with the presence of a long lost Nintendo icon, but based on Miyamoto's comments this experiment is likely tied into another of Nintendo's recently-resurrected classics.
Defending a small, maze-like secret base is your primary goal in Guard. Before starting a given round on Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulties available in the demo, you place 12 security cameras around the base's layered walls, adjusting their position towards openings at the perimeter and strategic angles within. The GamePad shows an abstract map of the facility while the television screen shows all 12 camera viewpoints. In the center of the television screen is the POV of the camera currently under your control, which you can rotate with the analog stick and fire lasers from. Cycling through the cameras is as simple as tapping which one you want to move and shoot with.
Keeping up with which one you need to be viewing, however, is where things get dicey. Little R.O.B. bots start pouring in from all sides of the base when a round starts. First it's just little bobbly heads with stubby legs trundling in, and it's easy to keep up because they show up as icons on the GamePad map as well. Soon, though, you've got tiny black stealth bots you need to keep track of, speedy red bots on wheels, and big goofy bird bots that will pick up and move your cameras if they get close enough. Then there's the dreaded blue R.O.B. bots. Fast and relentless, these need multiple shots to bring down since a single shot only destroys their bodies, leaving an even faster and harder to hit head rushing towards the center of the base. Any of those robotic blighters get to the middle, it's game over. Blow up a set number of blue R.O.B.s and other specific bots, and you win.
Project Guard is maddeningly stressful. Even the Easy setting offered by Nintendo was punishing, with robots deftly overwhelming my ability to fly between cameras. At least it was a fun sort of stressful, though. Having a group of spectators yelling, "CHECK CAMERA 5! CHECK CAMERA 5 BEFORE THAT BIRD STEALS IT!" is pretty hilarious, and it's even funnier doing that to other people playing. Is it enough to stand on its own? Maybe as a budget priced downloadable, but not as a full scale game.
Based on Miyamoto's comments at the event, though, Project Guard will neither be a downloadable title or a standalone game. When asked why the Star Fox logo appears on the cameras in the game, Miyamoto simply responded, "You noticed something very nice today, didn't you?" Like Project Giant Robot and Star Fox itself, Project Guard feels like one piece of a larger puzzle.