Galcon is a franchise that is hallmarked by milestones. In 2008 Galcon released on iPhones as one of the first multiplayer iOS games. Galcon walked away with the 2009 IGF Award for Mobile Game Design, and in 2010, Galcon Fusion was released, which was the first iPad game that utilized cross-platform capabilities.
In December of 2012, Galcon’s creator Phil Hassey pitched Galcon 2 on Kickstarter, and the $23,000 Kickstarter campaign met its funding goal. Now, two years later, Galcon 2 is available to the public.
Franchise fans will not be disappointed, but newcomers to the series have a bit of catching up to do.
The core of Galcon 2 remains the same as the originals: players use their gradually-generated units to overwhelm the other players. Each player starts off with the same number of bases, and must use their units to capture neutral bases in order to increase their overall unit production.
Galcon 2 features RTS gameplay that many of you have undoubtedly seen before in one form or another. If you didn’t know, the original Galcon was the first game to popularize these mechanics, but they’ve been copied enough times that you’ve doubtlessly seen them elsewhere.
The more I played Galcon 2, the more I realized that this is a game about substance over style. The game is super simple to play and features fast-paced matches that are over in a flash compared to most other RTS games, but the overall presentation is underwhelming. Even six years later, the sequel looks largely the same. Comparing a screenshot from 2008’s Galcon to today’s Galcon 2, the differences are hardly noticeable. But that’s ok, because the best part of Galcon is its tight gameplay and near-instant access to action.
In Galcon 2, I can be in a game within moments. There are some restrictions to what players can do for free (you have to pay for premium status in order to setup a custom game), but I never had any trouble finding a game in progress or a game waiting for players to join. Even in the late hours of the night, there were always a few games open. For veteran Galcon players, this is fantastic, as they can swiftly get into games and start taking advantage of Galcon 2’s multiplayer tournament modes, networking with other players, and working on perfecting their strategies.
The problems arise for newer players.
A tutorial is available for new players, but because Galcon employs such rudimentary rules, the learning experience is over within moments, and it’s onto the live co-op and multiplayer matches. I found that Galcon 2 offers newer players little room to grow and get a handle on the meta game before they are exposed to hardened veterans who will wipe them (and me) out within a s quick time span.
When this happens repeatedly, the charm of Galcon’s quick-and-easy gameplay quickly wears off.
In time I am certain that I’d become just as good as these conquerors, but Galcon 2 just doesn’t present me with enough motivation to play long enough to get good. If you’re not already a Galcon fan, there’s a slim chance you’ll stick around long enough to become one.