Galcon Labs Review—Do the Math!

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If you’ve played a lot of Flash-based browser games, you’ve definitely stumbled upon a game like Galcon Labs. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the names of those games. There are browser games that are exactly like Galcon Labs in gameplay and premise: interplanetary, galactic conquests! The same formula has also been used with high fantasy and Middle Age settings. So how does Galcon Labs play? Well, at the very core, it’s like a highly compact, oversimplified Risk in real time.

Galcon Labs is not the prettiest among its kind. It probably has the least charm. Nevertheless, there’s something unique to the PSP: the lack of a mouse. Call me a sadist, but the innately clunky controls make Galcon Labs a unique game to play even if I’ve played it several times before.

Click-based casual games, like Jane’s Hotel and Supermarket Mania, are unimaginable for some to play without a mouse. Supermarket Mania struggled with the transition. In contrast, Jane’s Hotel, which Beatshapers also ported, had a great control scheme. Likewise, Galcon Labs also features great controls, despite the nature of the game requiring a mouse or at least a touchscreen to make things truly comfortable.

It’s really difficult to pin down how the game is played without confusing you, so here’s my best shot. Galcon Labs is like a math game. It’s simple addition and subtraction. Every planet houses a number of ships drawn as triangles. The planets you’ve conquered are depicted with your color. The number inside each planet indicates how many ships are stationed there. The number of ships continually increases. The bigger the planet, the faster it spawns. You can send forces to your enemy’s planet to conquer them. Whoever has the larger force wins. There are neutral planets that you can occupy, and they follow the same mechanics as your enemy’s. Just overwhelm them with ships and you’ve got them. However, sending 100% of your troops would endanger the planet where they are stationed, as there would be no one left to defend it. I think I may have confused you more. So, below is the gameplay video if you didn’t understand what you just read.

Controls are as follows: D-pad and analog nub for navigation, Square for transmitting 50% of the forces, Triangle for transmitting 100% of the troops, Circle for filtering enemy planets, X for filtering your own territories. To select all of the planets just press the left shoulder button. The controls are actually responsive and functional. It’s just difficult because of the nature of the game giving it unintentionally skill-based play.

Galcon Labs has a Campaign Mode, where variants on the basic gameplay are slowly introduced as you progress. In some levels, the planets are constantly moving and bouncing around like billiard balls. There are also times that you can see where your opponent’s ships are going. In the middle of the campaign, you can unlock the Fusion Mode, which is like the skirmish mode in RTS games. The Fusion Mode includes the game variants mentioned above and the others that appeared during campaign.

The campaign is short, too short. I haven’t finished the campaign yet, but the game states that I’ve completed 95% of the campaign missions. I managed to reach 95% progress within an hour; however, I’ve played the game for over a week now. I couldn’t come up with a finishing solution yet. Fusion Mode does extend the life of the game, but a lengthy campaign would have been better. Yes, there are gameplay variants, but the variety is too limited, and nothing really groundbreaking is introduced.

The AI is not really intelligent. I struggled in the beginning levels because I was still adjusting to the controls. Once I was able to get the flow of the game, it got easier. I could conclude that the weak AI resorted to cheating, and that’s why I’m stuck. I mean, look at it; it can send troops all around the place faster and can readily subtract and add without even looking at the numbers.

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The sound effects are minimal. The music is irritating, just a loop of irritant. The graphics are simple and all right for my standards. The game does not call for impressive graphics anyway. Controls are responsive, as mentioned, but they seem like they’re not. The “score” is simply based on how quickly you can wipe out your competition per level. There is a “ranking” system, but as I haven’t really finished the game yet, I can’t further comment. All in all, Galcon Labs is good. It doesn’t push the limits of the genre, but it’s good.

7/10

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Comments

3 Responses to “Galcon Labs Review—Do the Math!”
  1. Ofaliss says:

    This is a fair review. Solid, but not great by any means.

  2. jvm says:

    So it’s basically a mini version of Mushroom Wars (PS3), right? How does it compare in that respect?

  3. Alex says:

    @jvm
    Not, Mushroom Wars is basically Galcon clone with different graphics. This is port from iOS with a campaign.

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