Guest Game Review: Star Command

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Star Command Game Review By Guest Author: Justin Jelinek

Four score, and seven years ago – well, technically just about 2 years ago, it maybe just seems longer =) – Warballoon Games started a Kickstarter campaign for Star Command.  Described as “Sci-fi meets Game Dev Story,” and promised for both iOS and Android, I was hooked on the idea from the beginning. A small bit of backstory, I’m a sci-fi nerd, and have played more than my fair share of Game Dev Story (probably more than your fair share too. I’ve played a LOT of GDS).  Two successful Kickstarter campaigns and many delays later, Star Command is available for both Android and iOS with a PC/Mac version coming sometime in the future.  I’ve had an opportunity to play the newly released Android version of the game for the last few days.  Keep reading to find out if Star Command goes boldly, or whimpers quietly.

Star Command starts as many games do:  Choose your ship, name your player, adjust a few characteristics (gender, hair style/color, etc.) and dive into a brief tutorial.  You’re tasked with building a few new rooms on your ship, and hiring crew.  Building rooms and hiring crew each require Tokens, which you get from completing missions.  There are three varieties of tokens – Red for Tactical, Yellow for Mechanical, and Blue for Science.  Building rooms requires a certain combination of available tokens, hiring crew just requires a token of any color.  The early challenge lies in the balance of building/hiring so that you don’t have too many of one, and not enough of the other.



Who wouldn’t want to hire F’Artoo?

Full disclosure – I’ve not yet made it through the complete storyline, though I also don’t feel that I should spoil any plot points here.  I think the question that most of you will want answered:  Is it fun?  If I had to answer that in one word I would say “Yes!”  Thankfully, I do not have to answer in one word because that would be an awfully boring review.  Allow me to elaborate.

Star Command scratches a tactical itch on mobile that is often left un-scratched.  The combination of ship management, crew management, and tactics is a welcome change from the endless runners and tower defense games that seem to pop up so frequently.  That’s not to say that Star Command is perfect in its current form.  Many of the missions feel very similar and there are occasional graphical glitches – an animation skipped here or there.  There are still some bugs – using my shield booster crashed the game (this bug was fixed in an update on 9/26), otherwise I have not yet found anything too crazy.

Your early gaming experience will consist largely of flying to new places and finding new and interesting aliens to blow up.  Firing weapons is a combination of waiting for the weapon to load, and completing a small mini-game to determine your accuracy.  Early on in the game, the wait to fire weapons seems to take entirely too long.  This can be fixed by updating the weapons and improving your crew, but early on it can be frustrating.  The mini-games are a nice way to break up the monotony, and they differ based on the weapon you’re trying to fire


Meet – and destroy – new people!

Let your shields get too low and you will be boarded.  You’ll need to fight off the invaders up close and personal in a real-time battle.  Any member of your crew can take part in this fight as long as they have been assigned to a Red/Tactical room.  Tactical rooms include the bridge and any weapon systems.  In order to get assigned to a Tactical room and attack invaders, your crew first needs to visit that room.  This adds an additional layer of strategy when there are enemies on your ship.  Do you risk sending your mechanic to the bridge – potentially through alien crossfire – in order to help with the attack, or do you leave them where they are in case any repairs are needed?  Your Blue (Science) crew members can heal and are very important if you get boarded.

I’d be remiss not to mention the graphics and music.  The game graphics are a mix of pixelated characters and ships on top of lush, vibrant backgrounds.  The background art is really very nice.  Warballoon spent a lot of time working on the animations in this game, and they really shine.  Ships break apart when defeated, aliens (and crew) die spectacularly, even the weapon fire animations look great.  The character graphic style is definitely reminiscent of Game Dev Story, but that’s about where the graphical comparisons end.


A lot of work went into the soundtrack as well.  I was lucky enough to get a copy from the Kickstarter rewards, and the music fits very well.  It is sufficiently epic for the game’s setting.  If you get the Android version as part of the Humble Bundle (link below) you too can get a copy of the soundtrack.

Control is quite precise even on small screens.  I tested Star Control on both a Galaxy Nexus, and Asus Transformer TF300t.  While I was expecting the tablet to be a far better experience, I was pleasantly surprised by how responsive and accurate the controls were on the phone.  The extra screen real estate on a tablet is nice, but this game is definitely playable on a phone.

Warballoon has stated that they hope to continue to improve Star Command.  Future updates are said to include new missions, new ship rooms, away teams, planet landing, and more.  Many of these additions are items that were promised in the original Kickstarter, but I can’t fault them for being ambitious and wanting to release the best game they can.  After so many delays, it was probably best to get the game into players’ hands and continue to improve the game with updates.  I look forward to their continued work on this game and hope that some added variety will breathe more life into this promising game.

So is Star Command worth your time and money?  Yes.  While it is missing some of the depth promised in the original Kickstarter campaign, I’m trusting that more content will be added in the future.  As it is currently, Star Command has been fun enough to keep me coming back for more.

For iPhone and iPad: Star Command

For Android: Star Command Humble Bundle 2

Justin Jelinek is a self proclaimed geek and tech/Android nut, be sure to circle him over on Google+. Justin on G+

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