The balance between nostalgic and new makes Jamestown the perfect game to recommend to classic shooter fans.
Jamestown is a vertical scrolling shoot ‘em up in which you control a small ship and your main objective is to destroy as many enemies as you can. At times, the game feels like a tribute to old games of the genre like “Twin Bee” or “Ikaruga”, and at other times it feels like a refreshingly unique experience. This balance is more than proper and the fact that the game’s difficulty is so well-paced makes it appealing to both veterans of the genre and newcomers alike.
The year is 1619, your character is Raleigh, and he has been sentenced to death by the king of England at the Tower of London. A few days later, he goes to Mars (also known as the New World) where the war between British and Spanish is taking place. As he has been wrongly accused of a crime, Raleigh is willing to do anything to clear his name, even if that means blasting his way through Mars. The premise of the game is a very odd one, especially for a top down shooter, but it’s nice to know that most indie developers are still taking risks.
At the beginning of the game you start with the beam ship, as the other three are locked. Every ship has two types of weapons. In the case of the beam ship, the primary weapon has weaker bullets, but it allows you to move fast. By holding down the special fire you’ll attack with a more powerful beam of energy, but it’ll slow you down significantly while you use it. The fact that each ship can alternate between two weapons makes the game a little more complex and strategic and even though there are only four ships in total, each one is significantly different to the others. No matter which ship you choose you should take into account that if an enemy shot reaches the center of your ship, this will be destroyed.
In addition, every time you destroy enemies you’ll be given gold and the vault meter will start filling. When the meter is full you can use a new ability which allows you to activate a powerful shield that protects you for a few seconds, as it absorbs all the incoming fire. Also, your weapons make much more damage and a multiplier builds as you kill more enemies. Once you activate it, the effect is really limited and the meter will start depleting, but if you keep collecting more gold you can refill it once again to keep its effect going for a while.
Additionally, Jamestown supports up to four players to play local co-op. As you may imagine, the battles become extra hectic and chaotic when there are multiple ships shooting at different targets and the result is more than compelling. Some of the ships complement in really interesting ways and add a new layer of complexity to the game. Unfortunately, there isn’t an online mode option and this would have been a great addition, as sometimes it’s really difficult to find a couple of friends to play locally. Some leaderboards are also offered to upload your times and share them with the rest of the players, but this simple element doesn’t make up for the lack of a more convincing and proper online mode.
The game is divided into various chapters and each one can be played in different difficulty levels. If you want to unlock all the content the game has to offer, eventually you’ll need to be able to beat certain levels in harsher difficulties. But those people who have never played a shoot ‘em up of this kind will also have a blast, mainly because the game has a really smart learning curve. As you progress the game rewards you with money that you can spend in the “Shoppe”. Here you can buy items like new ships, modes, difficulty levels, challenge packs, a story mode and so on. Also, Jamestown has different control schemes and these accurate and comfortable enough. You can play with a keyboard, a mouse or an Xbox 360 controller, but if you want to play with your friends any combination works.
This game looks amazing and most levels are extremely detailed and balance nostalgic elements with newer ones. Jamestown’s graphics resemble old-school titles and its art-style looks very similar to Metal Slug. It’s great to know that the action is always pretty stable, even when dozens of enemies fill the screen. Furthermore, each level is quite distinctive and even though there are only a few, most of them are varied enough as they are full of nice touches like rain and fire effects, beams of energy and so on. The backgrounds also look astonishing and it’s great to see how well they blend in with the action that takes place on the first plane.
Music is simply outstanding and the game uses some really good orchestral pieces that set up the tone for what happens in the game. Usually, you can tell when a boss is approaching as the music slowly fades out and then suddenly starts again. The rest of the sound effects also stand out and they mix really well together giving the impression that lots of things are happening at the same time.
In conclusion Jamestown is a fabulous experience as it mixes the old with the new in a very graceful and meaningful way. The learning curve is really smart and players of different skills will be able to enjoy the game. Graphics and sound come together in a very special way creating a somber and dark tone that emphasize the combats and adds much more substance to it. If you want to have a great time, try playing Jamestown. You won’t be disappointed.