Star Guard

By: Xander

On: October 9th, 2009


Star Guard is a short and sweet action-platformer from Vacuum Flowers available for either PC/MACs. Set in a minimalistic and dark world, you play a green guy fighting red guys who are controlled by an evil wizard. You shoot the red guys with X and jump over their cowardly bullets with Z, though a gamepad is recommended if you’ve one available as you’ll need to squeeze off a lot of bullets in quick succession.

This is especially true in the later of the game’s nine levels, each featuring the same charmingly simple aesthetic, although the larger enemies feature some slightly more stylish flourishes. It’s a rather strange game because the pacing and difficulty doesn’t quite mesh with the infinite lives given to you on a normal playthrough. Where as typically mines/traps would require caution and dexterity, these will simply not respawn so even if you die you can just get through the section without worrying about the consequences. Which is fine, however I would’ve preferred if they came back when I did so I could effectively ‘beat’ that section rather than skip it.

That’s literally my only problem with the game and other than that it’s a wonderfully conceived platformer, and if more games could do plot exposition in such a seemless fashion so as to not even slightly interrupt the action then I’d be pretty damn happy with that.

  • jérémie

    very good,

  • Allen

    Press Tab on the main-menu for hard mode. That’s the real way how to play the game, and the beginning mode is more like, practice. I’m glad he went with that choice although the option for Hard Mode should have been louder.

  • HannesP

    Polished and fun. Well done!

  • josepzin

    Very good game :)

  • Danman

    I’m glad this made the front page. Really fun game, and surprisingly atmospheric for something designed within such minimalist constraints. I really liked the way the backstory was told via fragments of text scattered throughout the game.
    Regarding the infinite lives and enemies not respawning, it didn’t bother me; rather it made me feel as if I was controlling a succession of characters, each one building on the progress of the last, rather than playing one character who kept getting reincarnated. This feeling of being part of a larger team effort was reinforced by the friendly guys that help you out in earlier levels, which was a really nice touch in itself.
    I want a sequel!

  • !CE-9

    VacuumFlowers is instant love.

  • JoeHonkie


    I am super excited about this. Brings back fond memories of my old CGA PC games!

  • Michael

    I did like how the story was done. I think it proves that using text is not dead, it just needs to be done right.

  • fucrate

    Ahhh! So goooooood!

  • Adamski

    Very fun game :) Nice solid feeling engine, too :)

  • Rockvillian

    I really enjoyed this one. It’s spooky in a minimalist, mysterious way, cause the entire time I was filling in portions of the subtle story with my own theories and imagination as to why I was doing what I was doing, and what the wizard would be like when I eventually got to face him.

  • Goose

    Anyone get a gamepad to work? I’m trying to use a 360 GamePad.

  • Cymon

    I just beat the game this morning, not that it was difficult, but I loved the narrative. The final boss was tougher since he does re spawn with you, well, in his first form. Good game.

  • phil

    This game was a lot of fun =).
    Interestingly enough, I was playing some Sigur Ros music in the background and forgot about it. I thought it was part of the game, and it fit ridiculously well. Specifically, this song: Myrkur (Recycled by Ila). It’s a remix and seemed to fit really nicely with the game. I just put it on loop. Fun stuff.

  • l’elk!

    yeah, i couldn’t get my gamepad to work. anyone?

  • Allen

    You have to use a program like Xpadder or Joy2key for gamepad to work. If you have a logitech pad you can download the Logitech Profiler from their website, otherwise use joy2key or xpadder.

  • God at play

    My favorite thing about the game is Xander’s problem – i.e. it’s not a big deal at all when you die. To me, that made dying in the game fun in itself. I reveled in the fact that I could carelessly blast forward with glee, knowing that if I would die, I’d come back to the same spot in a matter of a couple seconds.

    Also, the game’s sound design is superb. I’m not saying that just because it’s SFXR, but because of the sound choices within that 8-bit limitation.

    A great game all around, just wish I could get to the 8th level since there’s some bad bugs with the OS X version.

  • io

    Love it…really catched me,and I had to play it through !

    Sequel please,and longer !

    Great Level Design,and Boss fights were really good !

  • Koholint

    I had a good time with this. I haven’t tried hard mode yet, but I may later. I like the way some of the objects and enemies react with each other, it sort of makes me with there was a level editor.

  • .

    If a gamepad is recommended, the game should support gamepads directly, and not just rely on external programs to provide keyboard emulation.

    That said, it’s a great game.

  • xot

    Lack of gamepad support is a problem with Flash, not this beautifully made game.

  • Kreender

    I´m stuck in the final boss, nice game.

  • Sparky

    Thanks for the feedback and encouragement, folks. I wish the game supported gamepads natively. Unfortunately as it’s Flash based, the best I can do is second Allen’s recommendation and point you to Xpadder and JoyToKey.

    I’m doing another round of alterations and fixes, and will upload a new version tomorrow or the next day.

  • HAL 9000

    Game is great reminds me of Love the platformer.

  • geist

    I like the game but after a while it gets kinda monotonous and repetitive. While there is some variety in the traps involved (which also are sadly “skippable” in the easy mode), the game for the most part doesn’t deviate too far or even far enough from just running and shooting at things with the same weapon over and over again.

  • geist

    But I must say, the graphics and aesthetics of the game are superb. I just wish I didn’t find myself losing interest half way through due to the repetition or else I would have finished it.

  • io


    Great news ! Can’t wait for the new version !

    This Game would have been a hit back in the 80’s,and it is even now :)
    Design and elements are totally giving the atmosphere of that era of games ! Love it !

    Say,can we hope for a sequel to happen ???

  • !CE-9

    @Sparky: that’s awesome news! There hasn’t been a lot of games lately that I kept coming back to after finishing them.

    This game just feels so damn good.

  • nunix

    Game froze as level 9 started, playing on OSX 10.5.6.

  • Kreender

    It took me 101 men to finish the last level, I won’t even look hard mode. But I really enjoyed the game.

  • Xeno

    Game froze as level 5 or 6 started.. also on OSX. Fun, little easy, but fun. Like the AIs of your green comrades & both sides jumping up the platforms. Good work!

  • Sparky

    Hi folks. I’ve made a few alterations and will upload a new version later today.

    My apologies if anyone is experiencing trouble with the site. A friend has mirrored the game:

    PC]( [Mac

  • Shawn

    I ran it in Ubuntu with WINE flawlessly.

  • Sparky

    I just put up a new version (same location). It features some improvements to the UI and a bit of optimization.

    I want to do a more substantial round of optimization in the near future, and I’ll continue to work on the bugs people have reported.

  • FrankieSmileShow

    Just played through Star Guard. I had a great time! Maybe I’ll attempt a hard mode run later.

  • Levi

    Someone way back asked about a gamepad. I use Pinnacle Game Profiler with my Dual Shock 3, and it makes gaming on my laptop a million times better. There’s a free version, check it out. Made this game awesomely fun and intuitive to play.

  • io

    Thanks a lot Sparky,will redownload it again and give it another try !

    Please keep on working on that game,would love to see more coming there !

  • Lischo Pine

    As Danman had stated earlier, I felt as though I was not controlling the action of just one individual, but building on the losses of the past. If there could be a sequel, I would like to participate in the destruction of the city as the wizard’s minions, forging deeper into the last city until we finally face some epic boss [maybe a King?].

  • Christian B

    awesome awesome game.
    loved the atmosphere

  • Mark

    It was fun, but it could have used a change of scenery every 3 levels or so. Maybe just a different colored line to walk on.

  • C-

    Definitely a fun game. I did get really scared when I put it down for a bit and came back and could only continue in trial mode, but it seems like you can still beat the game in trial mode. If I’m missing out on any credits, that’s hella-lame.

  • io

    @ Sparky,how long did it take you to make the game ? Design,Programming !!?

  • NessXX

    Really fun to play, awesome atmosphere.

  • Sparky

    Mark- actually, I considered doing exactly that. I opted for keeping the game visually simpler instead.

    io- I believe I began in early October of 2009. Granted I wasn’t working continuously, but obviously I still have a lot to learn about how to complete large projects productively…

  • Dock

    Sparky, I hope you mean you started in October 2008! Otherwise… o_o

    I really enjoyed this game, I found it very fun and responsive. I think the environments became a little samey after a while though, so some colour changes might help here, or perhaps some different enemy types. I worried that if I exited then I wouldn’t be able to proceed from where I left off. I also found it weird that I wasn’t able to play Hard mode.

    Oh, another thing… I’m a big fan of having text embedded into the environment like this, but somehow I never found myself able or willing to read the text in this. I think perhaps because there was action going on in these scenes that I wasn’t focusing on the text. It would probably work better in left-to-right corridors, especially one line at a time.

    Very impressive and inspiring little game. :)

  • Almost

    It still is early October 09.. you did it in a week?

  • io

    @Sparky , Thanks for your reply !
    That’s a pretty nice job you did there in that time frame ! Congratulations !

    It’s very inspirational,I love how you introduce the different elements over the course and play with them in different constellations !

    Loved the Boss fights,reminded me a bit of good old Treasure games !

    May I ask,did you use any engine to do that game ?

    Anyway,Thanks for that great game,hope we can see some more of it in future !

  • Sludge

    I beat it, though I wasn’t able to take the Wizard on until I fired up Xpadder and assigned turbo to my shots. 39 lives.

    Well structured, good avoidance gameplay and an interesting example of how games can do narrative.

    Was anyone else reminded of the CGA graphics palette?

    With regards to the infinite lives / checkpoint system: I would have more motivation to stay alive if I could collect weapons or powerups that are taken away when I die. In Contra, even when you have an ass ton of lives left over, you often groan when you die because that spread fire is just really nice to have.

  • Phasma Felis

    Sparky, when you recommend a gamepad in the readme, it would help to also recommend a way to use it. I already had Xpadder, but not everyone knows about that.

    Also, for any Linux gamers, the “Mac” version is actually just plain HTML-embedded Flash, and will work on any platform with a Flash player.

  • Christian

    @Koholint: I felt the same way… so I made a level editor:

    Now we only need someone to make a new set of levels… :)