Developer: Imitation Pickle
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.8

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★½☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Imitation Pickles released Galcon on the iPhone quite a while ago. It was one of the first games that I went from downloading the light, liking it so much, then upgrading to the full highly priced version for $0.99. It was well worth it. The game easy to pick up, but hard to master. There were a few issues with the game that kept me from really sinking my teeth into, but regardless it was a well designed game idea that worked well on the device.

Fast forward a few months, and we have a completely unexpected delivery to the app store in Galcon Labs. As the name describes, Galcon Labs is a mishmash of game types that seem to have either evolved out of the original Galcon play style, or were perhaps some early prototypes of possible styles of game play. For those of you uninitiated into the Galcon Universe the basic game play style is this: You are given a map with a large amount of planets dispersed throughout. You then start with a set amount of evil coloured triangles on your one planet and in all out war your objective is to wipe out the opposite race of evil coloured triangles. You do this by taking over uninhabited planets, which provide you with more resources. It’s simple, the bigger the planet, the more they produce. You can then decide to send a percentage of your troops to the varying planets in an attempt for galactic domination. This all happens in real time, with a tight control scheme, and games are usually over very quickly. Most maps last a couple minutes at most.

In Galcon Labs, the basic concept is taken and mashed up with other established game types. The list is as follows: Assassin, Billiards, Stealth, Crash.

Assassin: Much like the name states, you are assigned a specific enemy to conquer, and your entire objective is to take him out. The first to do take out their assignment wins the game. Simple!

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Billiards: Same classic style, but the planets move around like balls on a table. This is a simple little twist that ensures your tapping finger is fast.

Stealth: You cannot see where any of the evil coloured triangles are headed at any time. This makes planning tricky as you don’t know where to defend or attack. I found this game quite a bit more strategically intensive as you had a little more room to move large number of troops around undetected.

labs-ste-2-p-txt labs-cra-2-p-txt

Crash: In the original game type, the triangles only did war while either attacking or defending a planet. In this game type the entire world is a battle field. Allowing you to do flank maneuvers, and adding another layer of strategy to your triangle movement. This was perhaps my favourite of the four new game types.

Amongst all this Galcon goodness was an over the net multiplayer mode with all the available game style flavours. In my opinion this is where the game really steps out from a tap fest and makes that leap from deleted after review to a keeper on my device. The multiplayer is also the one area of the game that felt poorly implemented and that was during the sign up process. With the addition of 3.0 Apple added the ability for the dev teams to include a lot more involvement in app. Well, while signing up for the online multiplayer I was taken to their forums via safari, which weren’t designed with the iPhone in mind and then had to confirm my sign up again outside the app. This really broke the user experience, felt rushed, and just seemed very sloppily implemented. Once I was passed the sign up process though, the internet experience was good. You just pick a server of the game type you play and it rotates through the maps as you play up against up to 3 other opponents.

Generally we see content updates like this for free in the app store, so some people might argue that this should have been rolled into vanilla Galcon. But, there is enough new content here to warrant a second app. It’s priced right at $0.99 and well worth the purchase.

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