Hamburg-based developer Fishlabs has been on the forefront of the mobile scene since the company was founded nearly 10 years ago. We were unbelievably stoked back in 2009 when news that Galaxy on Fire [Free] was coming to the App Store. I've always been a huge fan of massive PC space games like Freelancer, so having a similar experience on my iPhone was almost too good to be true. When Galaxy on Fire was released, Fishlabs was providing a real, super-in depth gameplay experience that was essentially unrivaled at the time. It looks super dated now, but the trailer for the original Galaxy on Fire is at least worth skipping through just so you can appreciate how much better the sequel is-
Around a year and a half later and Galaxy on Fire 2 [Free] was released. We loved it in our review as it took everything we liked about the first game, but made it better with an amount of content included that bordered on unbelievable. As iOS devices got more powerful, Fishlabs was among the first kids on the block to blast out a full-on HD re-release of their game, elevating Galaxy on Fire 2 HD [Free] to the same level of similar graphical benchmark series like Infinity Blade. Check out the leap in difference between the above trailer and the sequel-
Unfortunately, the way the App Store has been trending towards free to play has not been kind to traditional non-free to play game studios like Fishlabs. They've tried to shift gears to compete in this brave new world of giving everything away for free by shifting their pay models around, but there's only so much you can do to a game that was designed from the start to be a buy once play forever sort of thing. They're free to download now, with IAP unlocks for expansions packs and IAP currency packs to tweak out your ship... But the games never seemed to be rebalanced to ever even vaguely require currency purchases, and the initial amount of content you get for free is so massive that it seems like only the most dedicated Galaxy on Fire players would ever hit the "Alright, now buy the expansion!" roadblock.
As a result, Fishlabs has needed to undergo some restructuring to keep the lights on, which sadly includes laying off 25 of their employees. Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally), they just kicked off a sale that cuts the price of all of their IAP, with the two expansion bundle getting slashed from $9.99 to $4.99, with other IAP seeing similar discounts. Additionally, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD was recently updated to take advantage of the increased GPU horsepower of the iPhone 5s. Like many 5s updates, it all comes down to better lighting effects. Lasers have a bit more glow to them and planets have better lighting along with other visual tweaks. Take a look:
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD - iPhone 5
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD - iPhone 5s
Anyway, whenever we post about free to play games they inevitably come with a comment thread filled with people talking about how they hate free to play and how much they wish we had more "real" games on the App Store. Well, now is a great time to put your money where your mouth is and throw some support behind this developer and their incredible lineup of games. Check out Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, if you dig it, grab an expansion pack, and let's keep our fingers crossed that this restructuring is just a minor road bump in the great game filled history of Fishlabs.