Battalion Commander review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: Smartphone Labs
Developer: Smartphone Labs
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

The fact that Battalion Commander was made by a developer called “Smartphone Labs” (or SPL, for short) should tell you pretty much all you need to know about the game. It’s a mobile game through and through — and, judging by the basic gameplay and graphics, one that seems like a refugee from the very early days of smartphone gaming at that.

Yet, despite its simplicity, I find myself totally hooked on it. Or, perhaps, I’m hooked on Battalion Commander precisely because it’s so simple. It’s not hard to pick up in the least; it’s essentially a shmup, only you’re controlling a group of soldiers — a battalion, if you will — rather than a spaceship or a plane. You move up across the battlefield, and you gradually accumulate more soldiers, better weapons, and the odd power-up.

And that’s it — that’s the entirety of everything the game has to offer. But because it’s so straightforward, it works in the best tradition of “just one more time” mobile games. Every single attempt you make adds to your XP, which in turn pushes you a little bit closer towards something new, whether it’s leveling up your rank, getting closer to achieving one of your mini-goals, or simply getting you beyond your personal best (which is helpfully marked on the side, reminding you how close you are with every try). Battalion Commander is a game that clearly understands how to make you feel a little but of reward for even the smallest little thing, which helps to keep you coming back again and again.

Best of all, though, is the one trait it didn’t bring over from mobile games: there’s no paying to win here. It would’ve been the easiest thing in the world for SPL to implement paid add-ons in all kinds of ways, but they didn’t, and for that, they should be commended.

Actually, I’ll expand that: they should be commended for making a fun game. Battalion Commander isn’t going to set the world on fire or anything, but as a time-waster, I’ve certainly seen much, much worse.

Grade: B-