Game: Rebelstar Tactical Command
Platform: Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Developer: CODO Games
Release Date: NA: 09/06/05
Genre: Strategy RPG
Do you remember X-Com: UFO Defense? Did you ever wish you could play it on the train without needing a laptop computer? Then this is the game for you. CODO's Rebelstar Tactical Command plays a lot like the battle portion of X-Com, and as a fan of the X-Com series and SRPGs in general, I couldn't be happier.
Story: You control Jorel, the newest member of the human rebellion. The Arelians have taken over the Earth, and humans are taken away for dastardly purposes at the ago of 30. All humans have a chip implanted in their brain at birth, but a select few reject the chip. Those who reject the chip are special, and Jorel is one of those people.
Gameplay: Rebelstar plays like any normal SRPG. You have a squad of one to six members, all of whom can carry a certain amount of weight. There are a plethora of weapons available, and each has a use. Chain guns and the like are good for crowd control. Sniper rifles are good for taking out enemies for afar, and assault rifles are the middle of the road. Grenades (normal, smoke, fire, etc.), pistols, stun rods, lasers, and others are also available as the game progresses.
Each squad member has an amount of action points (AP) available to him or her. Everything takes AP: movement, firing a weapon, picking something up off of the ground, and changing weapons all take AP. Movement costs 2 or 3 AP per square depending on direction. Weapons usage cost varies depending on how accurate you want to be and the type of weapon. If somebody has extra AP at the end of the turn, he can enter overwatch. This means he'll face a certain direction and shoot at any enemies he sees during the enemy's turn. This is very handy when you station squad members behind windows where visibility is limited but defense is high. As squad members level up, they will accumulate more action points.
Facing matters. Cover and concealment matter. Ammunition matters, and position matters. Sandbags and windows can provide a tactical advantage. It makes sense in this game to hide behind a wall, duck out, shoot, and hide again. The AI player is good enough that you'll need to. Don't try to shoot or walk through your squad members either. You'll shoot (and probably kill) them. They're solid entities. You can walk around them but not through them. Tactics, strategy, and intelligence are genuinely rewarded in this title.
Graphics and Sound: The graphics are adequate. They're not mind-blowing, and they're a little too cute for my taste. If I'm shooting up an alien camp, I don't want somebody to look over my shoulder and say "Oh, look at how cute your little people are!" The people look like people, and the aliens look like aliens. The music is suitably eerie, and the sound effects convey what they're supposed to. Each weapon has its own distinct sound, which is nice. The character portraits look sub-par and overly cartoony, too, but it's the battles that matter, and the graphics deliver enough to keep the battles fun.
Fun/Frustration: Rebelstar ramps up in difficulty. You've got to know what you're doing to make it through most missions. Running in guns blazing will only get you killed. That's a good thing, but it can make for some frustrating gameplay. As early as Mission Seven, I was retrying missions upwards of eight times before I found a strategy that worked. I find it enjoyable, but if you want a quick and easy game, this one isn't for you.
Replayability: The single player campaign doesn't offer much replay, but the two player skirmish mode is great fun for you and a buddy.
Overall: 7.5/10 (5/10 for casual gamers) If you're a fan of SRPGs like Disgaea: Hour of Darkness and Front Mission 4, then Rebelstar Tactical Command is right up your alley. The casual gamer, however, may want to skip this one.