I had a giant length podcast to listen to so I pressed on with the game while doing that and managed to finish it a lot quicker than I expected (quicker than the podcast at any rate) . There is no way I played through 48 missions so the total must have been including branches. I’m sure that some of the original missions have been skipped but the majority were present and it follows the PC original closely throughout. I can’t say that I ever got entirely used to the controls but I did start to learn how to play this specific port a little more and was considerably less frustrated in the later missions.
Once the game has got going, there definitely are tactics involved in regards to which ships you take out first and possibly in ordering wingmen around (although I’m unconvinced they ever followed my orders). The improved ships I got to fly in later missions is what made the biggest difference though. I’d already had the hardest fighters thrown at me, and the game got easier and more fun to play with a little extra firepower.
On the subject of firepower, I soon got to fly bombers and take out some capital ships. All of these look great in the engine and there is very little slowdown. Unlike the PC game, I can’t go around blasting turrets of course and there aren’t any sections of the ship to aim at. Like all the ships in the game, capships just have one shield (no front and back) and I simply blast it until it dies with everything I’ve got. I found all these missions extremely easy as it was just a case of afterburning behind the ship and holding fire. There is no need in this game to clean up the fighters after this and I immediately autopilot back to the Midway. As a consequence, the final sections of the game were quickly passed and I got through to the wormhole gate in no time.
I should mention that I could have aimed for bonus tasks such as taking out a percentage of the fighters in many of these missions if I’d wanted more challenge. Also I did have the choice of bomber or fighter for several missions depending on which part I wanted to fly. I’ve always had a preference for bombers since the Broadsword missions with Doomsday in WC2.
The final wormhole gate mission appeared to be a case of surviving for a few minutes and was also relatively easy, with the main challenge being knocking out all the fighters at the first nav point. There are no inflight comms in this game beyond a few instructions I can give to my wingmen, so it does help to have knowledge of what went on before playing the game in missions like this if you expect to follow the plot. The basic outline is in the briefing but there is no tension developed here as Dekker slowly works his way around the structure or anything like that.
At the end of the mission, there is a brief cutscene showing the gate blowing up to finish off and some dialog and stills from the original closing FMV. The dialog does come across as more cheesy as text than it was in a movie and Prophecy’s movies were not its strongest feature in the first place. It does end the game appropriately although it isn’t much reward and does leave me wanting the sequels we never got. I noticed a few familiar names in the credits after this and I think the WC community was heavily involved in editing dialog and the like.
I suppose I have to look at this game within the context of mobile games back in 2003 which were still quite primitive. It would be so easy to do a fantastic job of putting Prophecy on the PSP complete with the movies though and I can’t help but wish that this game had come a few years later. Prophecy on the GBA is technically a triumph for what it achieved on the system but not as much fun as I might have hoped. I’d have liked it at the time just on the basis of the 3D graphics on a portable device. Coming to it now I don’t find it easy to see past its limitations and it’s a pale shadow of PC Wing Commander Prophecy. It’s worth a look for fans and the multiplayer could be good fun but it seems to me that due to the nature of the game and it’s choice of platform it’s badly dated even if it is less than a decade old. If I want to play Wing Commander on the move, I expect I’d do better sticking the Playstation versions of WC3 & 4 on my PSP, or WC1 & 2 on my Pandora for that matter.
Speaking of which, I wouldn’t have minded having a look at those Playstation ports at this point having never actually played them. I’ll take any excuse to play either of those games again really and with the 3D hardware they have the potential to be better than the PC. I don’t own either of them yet though and I’m still flat broke thanks to a certain Mr. Shelley so they will have to wait until I’ve paid the bills. It’s not exactly an easy time of year to be saving money so that could take me a while. On that basis, I’ll switch over to Ultima ports next and get back to the previously promised Ultima 4 on the PC-98.