As the name suggests, Galcon Labs is like Galcon mixed with Google Labs. The developer took the formula of the original Galcon, came up with three different gameplay twists, and put them into one very reasonably-priced package. The result feels like they were playing it a little too safe with their ideas, but the basic gameplay is still enjoyable, and the twists freshen things up, if only a little.
The original Galcon hit the App Store over a year ago. In that game, you control a fleet of ships fighting for control of a group of planets. You launch spaceships off of planets you control in order to overtake neutral and enemy-controlled planets. The goal, of course, is total domination. This is a numbers war, so you want to grow your fleet as large as possible as quickly as you can, all while securing control of new planets and protecting the ones you rule. Which planets you attempt to conquer and in what order is all part of the strategy.
The gameplay basics this time around are exactly the same as in the original. However, now there are some new game modes to choose from, each offering a slight variation on the original “classic” mode. The only difference between Galcon Labs and the original Galcon are these three new modes: Billiards, Crash, and Assassin.
When ships attack.
In Billiards, the twist is that the planets move around the screen while you play. In Crash mode, if your ships meet enemy ships en route to their destination, they fight each other in space, and many won’t make it to the intended planet. In Assassin mode, the goal is to be the first player to conquer his or her target.
These new modes are a welcome addition, but none of them feels very different from the game we’ve been playing for over a year. They do alter the gameplay to an extent, but not drastically enough for this to seem like a full sequel. The graphics haven’t been updated either; the game looks exactly the same as the original, which felt barebones even at the time of its release. If they weren’t going to re-imagine the gameplay, at least they could have given us some new eye candy.
On the plus side, the excellent online multiplayer mode remains intact. Once you sign up for a Galcon account, finding games and diving in is extremely quick and easy. Online leaderboards are also in effect, but when you click to look at them you’re booted from the game and brought to a website in Safari.
All that aside, the three new modes are a boon for anyone who liked the first Galcon. This is a rock-solid game, and we enjoyed playing it online and off. For the small price tag, you get a lot of bang for your buck. We just hope that for the next release the developer gets a little more ambitious.