Like most people, I have a huge backlog of games. My mission: use my Backloggery to try to knock it down a bit. Whether I play these games five years or five minutes depends on the game.
On a day when I didn’t go to work but had a little bit of time to burn, I decided to take the time to get all of my Steam games listed on Backloggery. It took a long time, because I have entirely too many games for a 34 year old man who works more than full time. In the end, I learned that I probably need more impulse control:
533 Steam games, and I’ve sufficiently “finished” only 35 of them? This says two things about me:
1) In my defense, the majority of my play time is in games that don’t have a defined “finish”. My top games in terms of hours played – just on Steam – include Team Fortress 2 and Football Manager 2014, games where there’s no clear-cut ending with credits and pomp and circumstance. This doesn’t even go into accounting my console playing time, which is largely spent on yearly sports releases. NBA 2K14, NHL 14 and MLB 14: The Show have eaten a significant amount of my playing time.
2) I don’t finish what I start.
The last part is salient for two separate reasons. The first is easy: I get bored easily. But the second is somewhat related to the first in that in reality, I’m still a 34 year old man with two careers and a lot of supervisory work in both of them. When I finally do get time to play a video game, I’m usually not in the mood to be adventurous. Give me something I’m familiar with, especially if it has a set time limit (like a sports game), and let me blow off some steam. I don’t have time to learn how to play something I might not like.
Of course, I’m also a bit of an enterprising spirit, which is bad news when Steam does sales. Look at that number above one more time: FIVE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE. No one should own 533 of anything, be it video games, catnip balls, sex swings, anything. It’s a bit embarrassing, frankly.
Therefore, I’ve started a project called Taming the Backlog. It works simply:
1) Starting with my Steam games, I will eventually put my entire backlog into my Backloggery, linked above. Currently, only Steam games are listed.
2) I will use the Fortune Cookie function to pick out a game to play, based on games that are listed as “Unfinished”. This does not count “null” games, which are usually either casual, arcade or sports. From there, I will play that game, hopefully to completion.
3) Write about the experience, with a summation as to whether or not the game is worth continuing, on a 1-10 scale.
To start, I got a game that is simple, yet hectic to the point of distraction.
Developer: Hassey Enterprises, Inc.
Publisher: Hassey Enterprises, Inc.
Release Date: January 13th, 2014 (Steam)
My first impression of Galcon Legends was that someone gave a 4X game three shots of espresso, stripped it to its’ underwear, and sent it out into traffic. Each map has a load of planets of varying sizes with varying numbers assigned to them. The numbers are a planet’s military strength, with the size of the planet determining how fast it can produce more units. Clicking a friendly planet and then clicking another one, depending on the alignment of the planet, is how to either attack (enemy) or support (friendly) another planet. Dragging a box can select multiple planets, or double clicking a planet can set all planets to either attack or defend. When sending out ships from a planet, half of them go on the attack, so if a planet has 80 ships, 40 go and attack. Ostensibly, there is strategy in deciding who to prioritize, especially in multi-user encounters, in terms of whether to go for many small planets, one big one, or to attack an enemy’s major planet.
The strategy goes out the door, however, once the pace of the game is considered. If Galcon Legends was a baseball pitcher, every pitch would be a 99MPH fastball down the middle. Hit it if you can.
Maps can’t be viewed ahead of time, so it’s critical for players to identify key parts of a map and subsequently develop a strategy within, literally, a few seconds. Then, the pace of the game only quickens, so it’s critical to not only identify, but properly attack planets. This becomes difficult because the pace of the game is so blindingly fast that it’s hard to get an accurate click, and the awkward control scheme – particularly how dragging from one planet to another sometimes attacks, and sometimes just gets another planet to join in the attack – only makes things worse, in addition to making me question if this was developed with touchscreens in mind (verdict: yep). Later stages are quite difficult – even cheap at times – because this single player campaign gives opponents advantages unfair advantages, and because the stages seem to be set up to be beaten in a certain way, rendering the strategy moot. I finally got frustrated when I ended up in a three way fight between The Phantom, who has invisible ships, and the Banjo King, who can move his ships three times faster than most. No matter what I did, I couldn’t move fast enough for the Banjo Kid, who simply zerg rushed me to death. I had the choice of either dropping the difficulty down to the lowest level – that’s a positive for the game, it allows each stage to be done at any unlocked difficulty level – or quitting, and the latter is the path I chose. I regret nothing, because “sit back and watch everyone destroy each other” isn’t a legitimate strategy when everyone has their blinders on for the good guy.
All of this is driven along by a story that isn’t even “so bad, it’s good”. The player takes on the role of an intergalactic debt collector, with vignettes sprinkled about. There are mild attempts at ironic humour, but they all fall flat. Just about every story section is intended to introduce either a tactic for playing the game, or to introduce the tactics of a new enemy. The story isn’t there because it’s good, it’s simply a means to an end, and ultimately a waste of time.
On a 1-10 scale, how likely am I to finish this game? – 4. It’s very quick – there are 23 levels, and each level can be finished in well under 5 minutes, half of the time being a formality – so I could just drop the difficulty down to Cabin Boy, finish the game, and slap a “B” next to it.
Should anyone buy this game? – Only on the cheap, or in a bundle. I got mine as part of a Humble Bundle, and if they re-run the bundle, both Galcon Legends and Galcon Fusion are in the “pay what you want” section of it. In all honesty, Galcon Fusion looks to be the superior game, because it’s multiplayer; Galcon seems to be a game designed to best be played when all the stakes are equal, as if it was Warcraft for the twitchy. Galcon Legends can literally be beaten in an hour, so it feels almost like a tutorial of sorts; $3 is even asking a bit much for that, and $10 – the MSRP for each game – is simply laughable.
NEXT TIME ON TAMING THE BACKLOG: Our hero worked in restaurants from the time he was eleven years old. Will that experience transfer over to the world of video game food preparation? Click in to find out!