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'Rebelstar Tactical Command'

A GBA Review

Fortunately, this isn’t Rebel Alliance….

Rebelstar TC is a sci fi, turn-based, strategy game, but it mixes action adventure elements in by allowing the characters to increase their special skills when they level up, kind of like what happens in the Fall Out series, so that each of your characters can be further customized for the way you enjoy playing.

I think that’s cool. Another cool thing about Rebelstar is that it’s made by some of the people who made X-COM: UFO Defense, or so I've read. Thank God it wasn’t made by part of the crew that made the crappy FPS X-COM.

The story begins with Jorel—no, not Superman’s dad, a young man who saw his parents kidnapped by the Zorn, a race of alien assholes. You learn that aliens took over Earth, and they implanted chips in everyone’s brains. When people turn 30, the Zorn kidnap people and take them to places unknown. 

Some of the humans have begun to fight back, though. For some inexplicable reason, the chip doesn’t always take, and some people can reject its effects. Those people have gone on to actually remove the chips from others, and the Rebel Star faction of resistors was created.

The Good-

If you ever played X-COM: UFO Defense, you’ll see a ton of similarities in the game play, but Rebelstar takes everything a step farther by adding features like leveling up, customizing perks, and providing an action called overwatch. Overwatch allows your characters to post up and shoot the aliens even when it isn’t your turn, so long as you have enough action points left to commit to an action. Yeah, the aliens can use overwatch, too.

The music is pretty awesome, and it really makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a futuristic sci fi battle with aliens. It also mixes in well with the stages, which can vary from city ruins to forests with rivers, to alien strongholds, and even inside an alien ship!

The graphics are much more cartoony than X-COM: UFO Defense, but it works for this game. I do like the cartoony appearance, and the anime style artwork in the story scenes. I also like how the characters grit their teeth when they’re in overwatch; it’s always those little things that make a game fracking amazing for me. It just shows the creators cared.

After you beat the game, you have access to skirmishes. You can choose who you are, and who you’re fighting, and in which stage. It’s just a mini war, but it’s a cool addition to the game.

The Bad-

Of all the strategy games I’ve played over the years, there are only a few, which provide secret stages, items, characters, and endings based on proceeding through the game in a specific way; Fire Emblem on the GBA has all kinds of secrets you have to figure out to get the “real” ending. The same applies to Tactics Ogre on the Playstation, so I’m always a little disappointed when a game is cut and dry; in this case, you just gotta bust through the aliens and survive.

It’s hard, though. It’s surprisingly difficult, but for the wrong reasons. Too much of the “strategy” element is based on luck. This stage where you get to play as this goof, Glen, and his robots, is a prime example.

Ya’ start off with a couple of pistols, and he makes it sound like you gotta give the robots some pistols, so they can defend themselves, but there are not enough pistols. You need to run across the street to arm the robots from excess weapons in the armory. Naturally, the Freylar appear—bug-eyed jack asses! They have laser weapons, to boot!

One might assume a good strategy is giving two robots a pistol each, post ‘em up at the windows in overwatch, and when the first alien appears, the robots can shoot the Freylar while everyone else runs across the street.

Sounds like a good plan, and it is, if the robots ever hit their target. I’ve played through this game three times, and this is always my first approach to this stage, but this last time, my robots just would not hit the Freylar, but they shot me through the windows time and again.

I tried a different strategy by avoiding the windows and posting the two robots with guns at the doorway, so when the Freylar circle around, the robots can pop ‘em. That didn’t work this time either. I had to just haul ass over the road into the armory, suit up, and then go out and take down the Freylar.

Obviously, different stages call for different approaches; that’s the point of a strategy game, but in most games, one strategy that works will always work every time you play that game and get to that stage. It’s pretty annoying to get fricasseed by aliens because the game’s randomizer doesn’t feel like letting your characters aim correctly.

Overall, Rebelstar TC is one of my favorite GBA releases. I really like playing sci fi themed strategy games, and there aren’t many out there. I don’t know why, I mean there are plenty of sci fi series… or even horror series, which could release terrific strat games… like, say, Resident Evil…?

Wouldn’t that be cool? Lining up your S.T.A.R.S. crew against zombies and other genetic freaks? As I usually ask…. BUT WHAT DO I KNOW, RIGHT?

Anyway, I’ll rank Rebelstar a B game. It’s good. It has flaws. The flaws don’t detract from the fun, and it has some replay value.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to drop by my video games review page where you can rummage through all of my game reviews, which are also  posted on Vocal! It’s just an easy way to give everyone a chance to read numerous reviews in one place, so, yeah, thanks again!

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