More space than they knew what to do with.
The space combat and trading genre has made an unexpected mainstream resurgence, and on iOS of all places. I would never have guessed that a genre so highly dependent on expansive control options and precision of said controls would have landed on devices whose primary input sources are touch and tilt. Strange or not, the original Galactic Phantasy took a stab at space combat on iOS devices and implemented a command level control scheme that made more sense on touch devices. Players moved in radial paths about targeted enemies, and could freely adjust their distance from a target while remaining coplanar with the enemy. This system removes the player’s need to independently navigate the three dimensional emptiness of the battlefield.
Galactic Phantasy Prelude divorces itself from the more unique control scheme of its predecessor (or is it its successor?). Instead, players interact with the game via an action oriented control scheme reminiscent of the Galaxy on Fire series, with the player using an on-screen joystick to steer the ship. I bear no ill will against GoF’s controls, but Prelude’s mimicry is far from perfect. Unable to adjust sensitivity, I found myself constantly oversteering and entirely missing targets. There is an acceleration rate applied to adjusting the ship’s yaw and pitch that I just cannot get a handle on. The energy management system from the previous game is still present, but it isn’t enough to hold up what I feel is sub par combat.
All of the expected elements in a space simulator are here. Fleet management, ship upgrades, trading, and story. Most of these anticipated inclusions don’t stray from genre conventions, although I can’t say the inclusion of a story works in favor of the game. Prelude throws players right into what was presumably intended to be an exciting escape sequence. Instead, this weak opening sequence sets the low bar of quality for the game’s story in terms of writing and voice acting quality. The game’s quest system and progress-squelching “random” battles are far from inventive, and reveal Prelude’s Japanese RPG influences.
Many players are worried that the game’s In App Purchasing system will conflict with the balance of gameplay. The developers have chosen to withhold certain ship blueprints and perhaps more importantly, part storage. These are both purchasable via real-world money. I can’t say for sure if the game was balanced to push players towards purchases. I can say that the developer had to make a conscious balance choice that affects the difficulty and player investment in their already for-pay game. You know my personal standpoint- don’t ask me to pull out my wallet for something that isn’t additional content. I don’t want to pay for a basic UI element.
Regardless, Galactic Phantasy Prelude stumbles in terms of gameplay. It is a standard space trading and combat simulation with some pretty visuals and subpar combat. This release takes a step backwards from its predecessor. With so many choices on the App Store, it is hard to recommend Prelude over other ventures within the same genre.
Galactic Phantasy Prelude is available as a Universal download for $0.99
This game was tested on an iPad 4th generation