Space War Commander

Space War Commander - Amiga
You’d be excused if -by looking at the above screenshot, that is- you were expecting some sort of retro review, and you would also, quite happily, be very wrong. That, you see, is the beauty of indie games: developers and artists that simply create the stuff they like, without trying to appeal to everyone and without having to suffer armies of useless managers telling them what is supposed to be popular (as if any creative person ever really cared about such trivial matters). That is also why Space War Commanderis such a unique game with such unique 16-bit retro style graphics.

Come to think about it, the only thing not unique about Space War Commander (hence SWC) is its name. It’s definitely apt mind, though as far from imaginative as computer game names get. You actually get to assume the role of a commander in what can only be described as a space war. Then again, gamers never really cared for names, did they? It’s the way a game plays that matters or, well, should matter, and SWC plays a great game indeed.

Space War Commander - Amiga

SWC could best be described as an RTS version of a board game with intuitive controls, simple rules, simple sounds and Amiga-like graphics. And don’t expect something at the frantic pace of Command and Conquer or Dune 2. This is a much slower -you can even pause the game completely to issue orders- and way deeper affair, that does away with base building and focuses on resource gathering and -mainly- tactical movement. All you seemingly have to do is buy some ships, group them into fleets if you so wish, left click to select and right-click to move them around, make sure you have a steady influx of resources by conquering planets or even trading (nothing more complicated than another movement selection), and make sure you beat each level before your base explodes. Should a ship or a fleet contact the enemy it will automatically attack it and give you the tactically handy option of disengaging parts of your fleet for repairs, and, well, that’s all there is to it really.

Getting to grips with SWC is thus incredibly easy. Mastering it is wholly different matter, as the aforementioned depth comes into play. Think of SWC’s gameplay as chess with a bit of chance thrown in and you won’t be far off. Each ship has its own unique strengths and weakness and each map its unique tactical necessities, sometimes even making the whole experience feel like an elaborate puzzle game. An excellent, tough and addictive puzzle game to be precise, that would definitely benefit from some multiplayer options.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLjT9ZGyWuU[/youtube]

After all, the only thing SWC really lacks is the chance to pit yourself against another human player in some lovely multiplayer carnage. That and a bit more variety , though all in all it admittedly is a great indie strategy game that will appeal to most PC gamers of the thinking while gaming persuasion. Oh, and it can easily be played in 15 minute chunks too!

Verdict: Simple, deep, addictive, smart and -dare I say- sexy as an Amiga game. You really have to at least try it. Really.

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Konstantinos Dimopoulos

Hi, my name is Gnome, a.k.a Konstantinos and I own the blog Gnome's Lair which is all about gaming in all of its many and varied guises. It is thus about computer & video games, old games, new games, indie games, adventure games, free games, board games, ludology, game creation, RPGs, books on games, games on books, and well the theory of and in games.