August 3, 2009 2:00 PM | Eric Caoili
Before Laser Square Nemesis and X-Com, British developer Julian Gollop created the Rebelstar series for the ZX Spectrum, also turn-based strategy titles pitting humans versus aliens (or robots in the first game).
Publisher Namco and Gollop, with his studio Codo Technologies, brought back the Rebelstar name four years ago with Rebelstar: Tactical Command for the GBA, an isometric tactical RPG very much like the venerable X-Com, except without the base-building, resource management, random stages, and other features.
Tactical Command lacked the depth of the X-Com series (and it also included a game-ending bug, if I recall correctly), but I still had a lot of fun with it, and it's the closest thing to an X-Com release on a Nintendo console that you'll find.
A 2007 art pitch document by former Kuju Entertainment lead artist Cumron Ashtiani reveals that Namco Bandai also considered releasing another Rebelstar game with one of Kuju's studios. Rebelstar: Psionic Rebellion was intended as a third-person, squad-based action game, "a high production value AAA title due to be released at the end of 2008, early 2009 on Xbox 360 and PS3."
The publisher cancelled the project, however, to allocate resources to other projects, according to a report from beta/prototype/cancelled games archive Unseen64. I'm not sure how far along Kuju was with Psionic Rebellion before it was aborted, but this animation test is the only footage I've seen of the game:
While no longer a turn-based strategy title, Psionic Rebellion has a familiar premise of an alien army enslaving humans, and a resistance group with weapons and technology stolen from the invaders:
"Earths forces have taken a beating but the Aliens cannot deal with cold climates and so earths forces are re- grouping in the northern hemisphere. They are now consolidating and building up their forces and technology before mounting a counter strike. In terms of setting, this is similar to the GBA game, X-Com, but after the humans have lost a few battles. Humans and the aliens are battling for control of the Earth, and the aliens have already established a foothold.
Technologically, humans are a bit behind the aliens, but are catching up due to their study of captured alien equipment and their research. The player’s team is an extension of current Earth military, but a global force rather than national."
Naturally, this Xbox 360 and PS3 game also lost the cartoonish charm of the GBA title's sprites, instead favoring a look that was "mature, detailed, gritty and very stylish, similar to that of a western graphic novel".
You can read more details about Rebelstar: Psionic Rebellion and its team of high-tech psionic soldiers in Ashtiani's art style brief (PDF).