Mile Marker 23: Star Guard

Tired of stodgy corporate games made by The Man and his minions? We're playing the 31 best indie games for a change of pace —- and so we can judge them. Today, Star Guard!

In A Sentence
Little green man of maybe 12 countable pixels runs across the screen zapping games in a side-scrolling action game that would have made my Odyssey 2 a whole lot more fun back in the day.

State Of Completion
Star Guard is done. And you can download and play it. Preferably soon, because it is good.

Thoughts
I'm skeptical of games that look old-school, because they often play old-school. In other words, they make you die a lot. Not Star Guard. Here's a game that looks like it could have been rendered during the primitive years of game consoles but thankfully has some modern trappings. We're talking about Defender-quality blasting action but with frequent checkpointing, armies of soldiers sometimes fighting on your side, hordes of enemies. And one other element is here that has no age: smart, sometimes vicious, and always-clever level design.

Give me some good checkpointing and I can handle old-school jump-shoot-and-die gameplay. Wrap it in a sharp, primitive visual style and back it with on-the-wall story text that paradoxically and preemptively one-ups Splinter Cell Conviction's forthcoming use of the same, and you have a game deserving of its Independent Games Festival nomination for best design.

Answers We Demanded
Kotaku: What was the inspiration behind your game?

Star Guard designer Loren Schmidt: My friend was vacationing on Venus, and there was this Wizard...

Kotaku: How did you come up with the name to your game?

Schmidt: It takes me forever to come up with names! I drew up lists of words that had the feeling I wanted, and started combining them at random. I originally wanted to call the game "Star Castle," but there's already a game called that. After a bit of deliberation, I decided on "Star Guard" instead.

Kotaku: What do you do for a living now? What do you hope to do?

Schmidt: I've been a student until recently. I'm hoping to make a successful transition into making games full time. I've got a couple of new games in the works: a little game called Tin Can Knight, and a more involved project called Tiny Crawl. I'm excited about Tiny Crawl. It's a simplified RPG. I did an early prototype for the Assemblee competition at TIGSource, and I'm currently expanding on that. I'm doing a bunch of design right now- retooling the magic system and thinking about secrets and rare items. After that, I'm replacing all the pixel art with hand drawn assets. It's a fun project.

Make sure to check out the rest of the Independent Games Festival finalists as we head toward the March awards show.