I have never been a huge strategy game nut. Civilization, Starcraft, Populous--I just never had the patience. There have been a few strategy gems out there unique enough to catch my attention however, and they've given me hours of satisfying gameplay. Battlezone (1998) was one.  And I'm happy to report I've found another: Galcon [App Store] from Hassey Enterprises.

Galcon is a fast-paced arcade strategy game set in space.  The game begins with a galactic playfield filled with planets of varying size.  The green planets belong to the player, neutral planets are grey, and planets of any other color belong to the enemy.  The goal is to take over all the planets.

The size of the planet indicates the production rate of the planet.  A number appears on each planet indicating how many ships exist on that planet--for neutral and enemy planets, this is the number of ships that must be defeated in order to take control of a particular planet.  The player clicks on one or more green planets and then drags to a target planet in order to set ships in motion to invade said planet.  A number appears in the lower corner of the screen indicating what percentage of ships from an origin planet will be sent to a target planet with each deployment.  50% is the default, but tapping the number toggles through various values.

The game offers several modes of play, including Classic, which operates as described above, as well as Stealth, where the enemy ships cannot be seen, and Vacuum, in which the game is played against a timer.  There are 10 different levels of play, and with each consecutive level, the enemy becomes smarter.  Eventually the number of enemy ships will no longer be displayed on the planet face.

Galcon had me hooked at the first game.  While it's a fairly no-frills experience with very basic graphics, Galcon successfully delivers a solid strategy gaming experience that is an ideal match for the iPhone.  A sucessful bout of galactic conquest can be had, in one-handed play, in under 3 minutes.  And the fast-pace of the game, forcing instant decision making, delivers a very satisfying session of pick-up strategy gameplay.

This video from the developer shows the basic gameplay. Note this demonstrates version 1.0. Version 1.1 has since added sound effects:

UPDATE 8/2/2008: This review has been updated to reflect the latest version, 1.1.

Game Details
Name: Galcon (v1.1) Price: 4.99 [Buy]
Developer: Hassey Enterprises Size: 2.5MB
In Brief: Galcon is a fast-paced arcade strategy game set in space that does an amazing job of providing quality strategy gameplay in a form that can be enjoyed in two or three minute pick-up sessions.

TouchArcade Rating

  • MicroByte

    This game is really addictive. The touch controls are perfect and just work. Excellent game!

  • MicroByte

    This game is really addictive. The touch controls are perfect and just work. Excellent game!

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    The developer tells me an update should be appearing in a few days that adds in sound effects. Should be nice.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    The developer tells me an update should be appearing in a few days that adds in sound effects. Should be nice.

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  • VeganTnT

    I DEMAND that someone buy me this game! It looks like a game I would love to have on my iphone for a quick dose of planetary domination

  • VeganTnT

    I DEMAND that someone buy me this game! It looks like a game I would love to have on my iphone for a quick dose of planetary domination

  • polyplay

    I have a few quick questions: for each of the five modes of gameplay (Classic, Stealth, etc) can you select a difficulty level? And how many difficulty settings are there? Also, does the percentage of ships to send only change in 25% increments?

    I'm a fan of the PC version, and one of my favorite stress relievers is playing a ridiculously easy classic game and overwhelming the AI. If there was an option to do this on the IPT version, I would consider shelling out the $10. I agree it seems overpriced, though.

  • polyplay

    I have a few quick questions: for each of the five modes of gameplay (Classic, Stealth, etc) can you select a difficulty level? And how many difficulty settings are there? Also, does the percentage of ships to send only change in 25% increments?

    I'm a fan of the PC version, and one of my favorite stress relievers is playing a ridiculously easy classic game and overwhelming the AI. If there was an option to do this on the IPT version, I would consider shelling out the $10. I agree it seems overpriced, though.

  • http://www.mavisxp.com mavis

    I agree 100% with the review - this game is AWESOME. But overpriced. It's funny, I just left my review in the app store - 5 stars, but worth $5 - and coming here afterwards, it looks like blakespot agrees. heh

  • http://www.mavisxp.com mavis

    I agree 100% with the review - this game is AWESOME. But overpriced. It's funny, I just left my review in the app store - 5 stars, but worth $5 - and coming here afterwards, it looks like blakespot agrees. heh

  • MicroByte

    @polyplay: There are 10 different diffuculty modes. On the game select screen, there is a top section with 10 different "flags", each corresponding to a different rank (Difficulty). Below are the different game modes to select so whatever difficulty you select applies to the game mode you play.

    Yup, hopefully sound will be added. He said he was having a conflict with the iTunes music crashing crashing when he enabled sound. That's going to complete the package if implemented!

  • MicroByte

    @polyplay: There are 10 different diffuculty modes. On the game select screen, there is a top section with 10 different "flags", each corresponding to a different rank (Difficulty). Below are the different game modes to select so whatever difficulty you select applies to the game mode you play.

    Yup, hopefully sound will be added. He said he was having a conflict with the iTunes music crashing crashing when he enabled sound. That's going to complete the package if implemented!

  • ArtOfWarfare

    I can't believe it. Only a month ago I was being called an idiot trying to say games like Peggle are overpriced at $20 for the Mac. Now suddenly people are going further than saying $20 is too much and $10 is too much!

    And I like it. :) Finally people are beginning to realize that these double digit prices for 5-10 minutes at a time games is simply too much.

    (Oddly, Peggle is also available for the iPod... it only costs $5 there. It seems to be the same game but with slightly simpler graphics. And actually, the iPod click-wheel seems to be more intuitive than the mouse for a game like Peggle.)

    About this game... Galcon. Don't own it but from the sound of it... it sounds like a simplified version of Risk. (Sounds like they took everything out... made set up and dice rolling automated... and then made it so the only thing you can do is invade other territories rather than reinforce your own...)

  • ArtOfWarfare

    I can't believe it. Only a month ago I was being called an idiot trying to say games like Peggle are overpriced at $20 for the Mac. Now suddenly people are going further than saying $20 is too much and $10 is too much!

    And I like it. :) Finally people are beginning to realize that these double digit prices for 5-10 minutes at a time games is simply too much.

    (Oddly, Peggle is also available for the iPod... it only costs $5 there. It seems to be the same game but with slightly simpler graphics. And actually, the iPod click-wheel seems to be more intuitive than the mouse for a game like Peggle.)

    About this game... Galcon. Don't own it but from the sound of it... it sounds like a simplified version of Risk. (Sounds like they took everything out... made set up and dice rolling automated... and then made it so the only thing you can do is invade other territories rather than reinforce your own...)

  • http://www.bytecellar.com blakespot

    You could say that most any strategy game is an altered version of Risk, really. There's lots of strategy games out there. A full-blown strategy game with extremely granular play would not be highly appropriate for the iPhone. I like the simplicity of Galcon. Were it any notable degree more complex, I'd not be playing it.

  • http://www.bytecellar.com blakespot

    You could say that most any strategy game is an altered version of Risk, really. There's lots of strategy games out there. A full-blown strategy game with extremely granular play would not be highly appropriate for the iPhone. I like the simplicity of Galcon. Were it any notable degree more complex, I'd not be playing it.

  • http://www.fireandknowledge.org Josh S.

    Bought it and like it so far! First thing I've bought through the phone app store (instead of iTunes) and I was amazed at how easy it was. Apple has a good thing going here.

  • http://www.fireandknowledge.org Josh S.

    Bought it and like it so far! First thing I've bought through the phone app store (instead of iTunes) and I was amazed at how easy it was. Apple has a good thing going here.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Johs S.: Indeed they do. :-)

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Johs S.: Indeed they do. :-)

  • MicroByte

    @ ArtOfWarfare: It's similar to risk except everything is dynamic and in real time. You can reinforce your planets by sending selecting one planet of yours and dragging it to one of your other planets. Works great when getting attacked!

  • MicroByte

    @ ArtOfWarfare: It's similar to risk except everything is dynamic and in real time. You can reinforce your planets by sending selecting one planet of yours and dragging it to one of your other planets. Works great when getting attacked!

  • Bloc Party

    "A full-blown strategy game with extremely granular play would not be highly appropriate for the iPhone."

    Europa Universalis is coming to iPhone - you guys need to do an article about it!! :)

  • Bloc Party

    "A full-blown strategy game with extremely granular play would not be highly appropriate for the iPhone."

    Europa Universalis is coming to iPhone - you guys need to do an article about it!! :)

  • Adisah

    I'm going to end up buying it soon. I have $10 on paypal.... I wonder what I should spend it on. I'll check this out, it looks like a pretty good game. A very unique idea.

  • Adisah

    I'm going to end up buying it soon. I have $10 on paypal.... I wonder what I should spend it on. I'll check this out, it looks like a pretty good game. A very unique idea.

  • Tank

    OMG! I *LOVE* this! I need to charge my phone now. Haha!

  • Tank

    OMG! I *LOVE* this! I need to charge my phone now. Haha!

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    This game gets hard--fast.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    This game gets hard--fast.

  • Daniel Beckham

    Boy, this game looks great, but I have to agree. The $9.99 price tag is steep. I know it sounds like I'm being cheap, but this game isn't the only thing out there to buy. I will impulse buy <= 2.99, buy 4.99-5.99 after seeing it in action and enjoying it, but I just won't pay $9.99 for anything I can't play first and it would be hard to justify it even then.

  • Daniel Beckham

    Boy, this game looks great, but I have to agree. The $9.99 price tag is steep. I know it sounds like I'm being cheap, but this game isn't the only thing out there to buy. I will impulse buy <= 2.99, buy 4.99-5.99 after seeing it in action and enjoying it, but I just won't pay $9.99 for anything I can't play first and it would be hard to justify it even then.

  • Crastic Tank

    Yeah man, I know! I can get 3 completely different Sudoku's for that price. Or catch a movie for about that. I could even have lunch! You don't want me to starve, do you?

    It's not like I paid $400 for a flashlight, and $80 a month for a doorbell!

  • Crastic Tank

    Yeah man, I know! I can get 3 completely different Sudoku's for that price. Or catch a movie for about that. I could even have lunch! You don't want me to starve, do you?

    It's not like I paid $400 for a flashlight, and $80 a month for a doorbell!

  • Mitch

    pricing is a hard decision - i would have a hard time deciding what to charge if i were a vendor - but i too won't drop $10 on this game without being able to do a demo on my phone. i might drop 4-5 without a demo, but not $10

    i think most vendors should opt for volume sales and that would mean lower prices IMHO.

  • Mitch

    pricing is a hard decision - i would have a hard time deciding what to charge if i were a vendor - but i too won't drop $10 on this game without being able to do a demo on my phone. i might drop 4-5 without a demo, but not $10

    i think most vendors should opt for volume sales and that would mean lower prices IMHO.

  • Rene Dudfield

    Check out the Mac/PC/Linux version if you want a demo.

    It's a different game on Mac/PC(different platform), and touch adds to it a lot...

    There's an update with added sound already. Phil Hassey is good with updates.

  • Rene Dudfield

    Check out the Mac/PC/Linux version if you want a demo.

    It's a different game on Mac/PC(different platform), and touch adds to it a lot...

    There's an update with added sound already. Phil Hassey is good with updates.

  • Isak

    Two questions for those who have played Galcon on ipod/iphone,

    Does the game keep track of your progress in some way, or can you start at the hard levels right away?

    And also, is there a high-score system?
    (so I can beat my own scores to infinity)

    Thanks

  • Isak

    Two questions for those who have played Galcon on ipod/iphone,

    Does the game keep track of your progress in some way, or can you start at the hard levels right away?

    And also, is there a high-score system?
    (so I can beat my own scores to infinity)

    Thanks

  • Noah

    You can start on any level difficulty you want. My only gripe is two things actually: No story mode (nothing to acheive or unlock), and no multiplayer.

    Oh well!

  • Noah

    You can start on any level difficulty you want. My only gripe is two things actually: No story mode (nothing to acheive or unlock), and no multiplayer.

    Oh well!

  • Isak

    Yeah,

    As I understood, it is possible that the multiplayer part will be implemented very soon. Probably in about a month. I hope story mode will be there to. And a local highscore list would be very nice.

    Thanks for the info.

  • Isak

    Yeah,

    As I understood, it is possible that the multiplayer part will be implemented very soon. Probably in about a month. I hope story mode will be there to. And a local highscore list would be very nice.

    Thanks for the info.

  • denverpodder

    This game is a lot of fun...until you figure out that the only way to beat the higher levels is to take the nearest large couple planets with low numbers on them and attack your enemies immediately. This method works on all of the levels at least 2/3rds of the time and you win in less than 60 seconds. The strategy, the fun is gone. I would like to see this game drawn out. You should be limited to conquering only neighboring planets or limit ship production or something. But this game is hardly an RTS. It is a simple puzzle game that is way too easy to defeat. Yes, there are other modes of play, but they are NOT fun. I want to see some strategy like limited ship production, limited range, etc..., especially for $9.99, give me a break.

  • denverpodder

    This game is a lot of fun...until you figure out that the only way to beat the higher levels is to take the nearest large couple planets with low numbers on them and attack your enemies immediately. This method works on all of the levels at least 2/3rds of the time and you win in less than 60 seconds. The strategy, the fun is gone. I would like to see this game drawn out. You should be limited to conquering only neighboring planets or limit ship production or something. But this game is hardly an RTS. It is a simple puzzle game that is way too easy to defeat. Yes, there are other modes of play, but they are NOT fun. I want to see some strategy like limited ship production, limited range, etc..., especially for $9.99, give me a break.

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  • Mehaar

    This game is brilliant. The multi-player makes it unbelievable fun and adds huge depth in terms of strategy. No WAY is it simple (to win). No-one who has played online could ever say that! I think this game has been updated and reduced in price since these posts. Check it out - this is by far the most fun game you can get for the iphone.

  • Mehaar

    This game is brilliant. The multi-player makes it unbelievable fun and adds huge depth in terms of strategy. No WAY is it simple (to win). No-one who has played online could ever say that! I think this game has been updated and reduced in price since these posts. Check it out - this is by far the most fun game you can get for the iphone.

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  • Nagromme

    I downloaded this long ago and never tried it until now. It's very fun! Takes just seconds to learn, but it gets very hard as you go up the levels.

  • Nagromme

    I downloaded this long ago and never tried it until now. It's very fun! Takes just seconds to learn, but it gets very hard as you go up the levels.

  • Daniel

    this is really fun and i am an admiral. but i do not no how to lvl up does anyone no how? i do not no wat i need 2 become an admiral 1 stripe. can someone please post how u lvl up?

  • Daniel

    this is really fun and i am an admiral. but i do not no how to lvl up does anyone no how? i do not no wat i need 2 become an admiral 1 stripe. can someone please post how u lvl up?

  • 000NN

    yes isak the game does keep your score. u start at lvl one then make your way thru 10 lvls.

  • 000NN

    yes isak the game does keep your score. u start at lvl one then make your way thru 10 lvls.

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  • Anonymous

    Galcon is $1 for this week only!!!

  • Anonymous

    Galcon is $1 for this week only!!!

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  • Wallplant

    New update. Better graphics more modes and options. I think its only 3 bucks but i would easily pay 10- 15 bucks for this. Also if your not sure if you want to buy it there is a lite version.

  • Wallplant

    New update. Better graphics more modes and options. I think its only 3 bucks but i would easily pay 10- 15 bucks for this. Also if your not sure if you want to buy it there is a lite version.

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