In it’s trip from iOS to Nintendo Switch Galaxy on Fire fills a hole, loses some microtransactions and delivers a fun if repetitive experience.
You know an iOS franchise is well establised when the first iteration came out 12 years ago, it boggles my mind a little knowing that phones have been ‘smart’ for so long now! I remember playing Galaxy on Fire and some of its sequels on my iPhone over the years, accessible, beautiful and technically impressive they were always go to’s when you wanted to show off just what a phone could do in the way of gaming. With Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore, Fishlabs and it’s parent developer Deep Silver clearly saw potential in a port to the Nintendo Switch with a distinct hole in it’s portfolio for a accessible 3D space flight game.
With this move to the Switch and a slight rejigging of the name Manticore: Galaxy on Fire was born. While it’s birth is clearly firmly rooted on iOS the game has been changed significantly to work on Nintendo’s home and portable system. Microtransactions have been (sometimes clumsily) excised from the game and the missions structure made more linear as befitting a home console experience. I predominantly played the game in handheld mode, but it’s worth noting that when docked the game runs at a higher resolution.
Even in handheld the game runs incredibly smoothly. Dog fighting and flying around the various and varied space locations always feels and looks impressive. To start with the bite-sized missions lend themselves wonderfully to the portable nature of the game, but a lack of variety in them lets them down somewhat. The vast majority of missions usually boil down to: go there, blown up that and that can get old. Load times can also feel a little protracted, but they can mostly forgiven for how pretty the game looks.
The story of the game is pretty forgettable, though the voice acting is certainly better than expected. I found myself quite liking the somewhat tired archetypes I was fighting for and with even if the reason for such combat felt secondary. I am sure the narrative would mean more to you if you were a long time fan of the franchise, but considering this a purposefully non-numbered port on a new platform more could have been done to create a universe that was a little more accessible to the new comers to the series.
A lot of fun can be had customising and changing load-outs for the various ship you collect throughout the game, though it’s at these times you can see where the phone friendly microtransactions would have lived, which makes me all the more glad they were removed entirely. The in-game currency you collect for completing missions and levelling up is plentiful so you can upgrade your ships, weapons and abilities with ease, turning your vessels into just the kind of pirate annihilating scourge you want and need when trudging across the universe.
In what feels at first like a nice addition, once you beat a level and complete the objective you load back into that environment to explore it and collect what I think is completely pointless booty. Other than the ships parts which you need to unlock special vessels, the other collectable seem to serve no purpose and are clearly hold overs from the iOS past of the game. When I realised this, the exploring portion of the game quickly became tedious and probably should have been cut from the game entirely.
I absolutely enjoyed my time with Manticore: Galaxy on Fire. There are no other games of this type on the Nintendo Switch and the space combat always feels fun to do, it’s just a shame that the missions you do it in become increasingly repetitive as the experience goes on. What I would like to see from Fishlabs and Deep Silver is an instalment in this series built from the ground up for the Nintendo Switch. I believe the franchise has real potential and would be fantastic without the iOS trappings that have been brought over inside this port.
Manticore: Galaxy on Fire was provided to us by Nintendo/Deep Silver via a download code for Nintendo Switch.