Galcon Labs is pure, fast-paced strategy, in its most basic form. The entire game pretty much consists of triangles and circles of various sizes. At the beginning of each level, one of the circles is blue, and one is red. Blue is you, and the red is your enemy. All of the other circles are grey (at least until the later levels), meaning they are neutral. Your mission is to defeat the red by sending your troops (the triangles) at the red troops to defeat them. In most of the levels, you will be able to see how many troops are on each circle, although once you advance far enough in the game some of the levels will prevent you from seeing the enemy’s numbers.
Now, the game isn’t just straight up numbers. Remember those grey circles I told you about? They also have numbers on them, and you can take them over by sending more troops than the number on the circle. This is important because you gain troops the longer you sit on a circle, and the enemy generally instantly starts overtaking the open circles, which means if you don’t grab a few the red team will simply have more troops than you, making it impossible for you to win. The larger circles gain troops faster, so it’s a good idea to take those over first, without spreading yourself to thin. However, you don’t want to spend too much time taking over circles, as the quick attack seems to work best for defeating the enemy before it can overpower you.
As you advance in the game, the levels will change in different ways, and each of these is considered a different game type. Once you have made it through quite a bit of the game, you will unlock Fusion Mode, which allows you to play single levels of whatever type you like. I did like that the game changes as you play, otherwise sending triangles at circles would get old rather quickly. However, the game doesn’t give you any warning or real instruction as to what you are supposed to do. My most frustrating example of this was when the green circles appeared. The level started up, and and all of a sudden there are green circles sending out triangles in addition to the red ones. Thinking logically, I assumed I needed to defeat both the red and green circles. Nope, I found out, as the game would consistently flash “Failed” after 20 or 30 seconds, with no indication of what I had done wrong. Oookay, so maybe I had to defeat the red before the green defeated it? No, sir. After going through the level repeatedly, I found that you need to defeat the red before the red defeats the green. I’m all for puzzles and figuring things out, but the complete lack of direction was somewhat annoying. There is a little written tutorial on the menu screen, but it does little more than tell you the controls and the basic idea of the game.
If you’ve ever played Mushroom Wars, then likely all of this sounded quite familiar to you. It is essentially the same idea. The simpleness of the design was a bit off-putting at first, as I tend to like a little eye candy in my games, but once you get into the gameplay it really doesn’t detract from the game. While I liked the idea of the game evolving as you play, a little more direction at times would have been nice. Even with my little hitch on the first green level, I finished the campaign mode in just around 20 minutes, but you can play at ever higher difficulty levels, so I think there is some replay value there. While I don’t see Galcon Labs as a game that you’d want to play for hours on end, it is a good game for when you just have a few minutes to play. Since it’s a mini, you can play Galcon Labs on both the PS3 and PSP, and it looks and performs equally well on both platforms. I give Galcon Labs a 6.5 out of 10, and recommend it to gamers who are looking for strategy lite.
*Update* Well, color me corrected. Even though Glacon Labs itself is a new game, it is an off-shoot of the original Galcon. Mushroom Wars is a bit of a Galcon clone, rather than the other way around.