If any of my readers are old enough to remember the days of Space Sims like Privateer or the original Wind Commander Series than you, like me, long for some of those classic titles. Countless hours spent traversing the vastness of space, exploring strange new world, seeking out new life and new civilization… and the proceeding to extort, blackmail and straight up steal as much as you could from them all while avoiding some grand policing force. Or perhaps you were a law abiding citizen of some distant Galactic empire working for the good of all humanoids or at least those under the protection of your faction of choice. Whatever the case, the idea of playing a space sim on the switch is a tantalizing idea. This is our Manticore: Galaxy on Fire review for Nintendo Switch.
Enter Manticore – Galaxy on Fire. The fourth in the Galaxy on Fire series, Manticore was originally released as a mobile title (along with its predecessors) to fairly decent reviews. However earlier this year Deep Silver announced that it would be bringing its mobile space sim to the Switch, and yes you could argue that it’s really just a move from one mobile platform to another; but to this I would simply respond with two words, “ Analog sticks!”.
It’s also true that earlier entries have found their way to PC/Mac via Steam but again I would say that these platforms lack the portability that makes the Galaxy on Fire Series so great. The Switch on the other hand strikes the perfect balance; one part console one part portability making it the perfect system for the port. So in the name of exploring the unknown I have spent the last couple of weeks in FISHLABS latest Galaxy on Fire entry and the first to be ported to Switch.
Manticore as a mobile title is a step in the right direction towards capturing some of the greatest aspects of space sims of old while streamlining the experience down to bit size play sessions. This translates well to the Switch which, aside from some serious Zelda marathon sessions, is generally played in small doses but this reviewer. The switch as a console is my go to on-the-go system and Manticore’s short mission system compliments this play style nicely. The story is also broken up in the same way allowing for easy consumption on the go.
The game looks great on the more powerful Switch platform with enhancements made to visuals. With 35 locations to traverse, maneuver and shoot your way through there is a lot to see and do. With about 7 or so hours under my belt with the title I can say that I have found locations to be varied enough to keep me interested.
The controls feel tight on Nintendo’s analog sticks with all major navigation handled on the left stick while programmed envious and throttle control handled by the right stick. Leading a target is assisted by the on screen crosshairs and fire controls are exactly where you would expect them to be. The controls feel natural in layout and responsive in play and I would argue that its a much more enjoyable experience than the original mobile release. Have a controller in your hand really does make the game feel a lot more fun to play. Firefights feel more engaging, maneuvers feel more responsive and the rhythm of combat feels just right.
In between missions you’ll find yourself at a centralized, essentially a large space version of an aircraft carrier. From here you can manage upgrades, pick up missions and side quests, sell scavenged parts and materials and purchase new ships and parts. Upgrading in Manticore is handled through the development of four major parts: reactors, generators, structure and engines. Each ship allows for upgrading each part up to five times with each upgrade taking more resources to achieve. This is the game’s real progression tracker and allows players to focus on the type of ship they want to pilot. In regards to ships, the purchasing of new ones requires the collection of blueprints which are found while exploring the world of GOF.
Manticore – Galaxy on Fire is an interesting title. It’s enjoyable to play with tight combat system, solid progression system and okay story. However there are times where the title’s mobile roots start to show. As much as I personally love the short missions for many I fear that it will simply feel too much like your standard shoot, rinse, repeat grind fest that many mobile games fall victim to. Although the aforementioned progression system is nice to have it does still feel very light for those looking for a deep space sim experience.
With these concerns voiced I would still recommend Manticore – Galaxy on Fire. It offers some great space combat, a nice variety of missions and locations and presents a decent, albeit straight forward story all wrapped up in a very pretty package. With the inclusion of a variety of ships to purchase and upgrade as well as no microtransactions within lightyears, Manticore – Galaxy on Fire is a slick, mobile space sim that plays well on the Switch.
- tight, fun combat
- Short missions make for nice pick up and play
- Solid port with smart design choices for the Switch
- Can feel a bit grindy
- Some progression mechanics lack depth