Overall Score 13%
As a writer, I like to think I'm pretty competent and capable of creating something that can hold someone's attention even if the subject matter itself is unpleasant or boring, but there comes a point in a writer's life when he is faced with something that is not merely terrible, but also so bland it defies all attempts to commit its failings to writing: Space Guards is that kind of game.
Nonetheless, I have to put something down on metaphorical paper, so let's start with the definition of the game given on MobileArt's website: 'Space Guards is a 3D spaceshooter with three different missions'. Well, one certainly can't fault them for honesty, Space Guards is indeed a 3D space shooter with three different missions. That's all it is. There is, quite literally, nothing more. The entire game revolves around the simple premise of controlling a stationary turret via your mouse and shooting blocky bullets at blocky approaching enemies to protect blocky buildings so their health block doesn't go down.
You can imagine my excitement, then, when upon managing to shoot down one of the in-game bad guys I was rewarded with an explosion that was not - in fact - in block form (more of a green splodge), but my ecstasy was quickly dashed upon spying the results of the enemies bombing runs on my city (take a guess, this time they were red).
Yes indeed, if Bytten had an award for 'Blockiest Game of the Year', Space Guards would be right up there with Tetris DS vying for the top spot. I wish there was more I could tell you about the game mechanics, but there really is almost nothing more to say: You're given a radar to assist in spotting incoming bad guys, but since it has a range apparently much inferior to your visual range, it's utterly pointless. You then fire away at one of a small variety of enemies before they can shoot at your buildings too much, all the time being sabotaged by poor, jerky mouse control, no built in reaction time and the aforementioned pointless radar until you lose, at which point you can get a brief chuckle from the badly written and/or translated game-over text before you load a game with an iota of good design or original thought.
Graphically, I have to give MobileArt some kudos for the fully 3D environments, which although untextured are quite decently modelled. Smoke effects are passable, but the enemies themselves are colourless, boring and all too often blend in too easily with the game backgrounds. The sound effects are strangely reminiscent of what my C64 used to come out with, and the background music is the kind of unremarkable techno-pop we've come to expect from these titles.
As the game's website so proudly boasts: There are three whole missions to Space Guards, differing only slightly in terms of enemies faced and the appearance of your weapon, but unless you're a hard-core masochist I firmly believe the repetitive gameplay, poor control system and unnecessary difficulty will put you off the game long before you manage to get anywhere. With player skill playing such a seemingly small part in success, it's unlikely the high-score board will hold any appeal for long. Lacking even the strategic options offered by Space Invaders (hey, at least you had those shield things), Space Guards offers nothing to the shooter genre or the independent scene, and doesn't come anywhere close to being worth the price.
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