Developer Final Form Games
Things You Might Like
- Classic Pixel Art
- An epic soundtrack
- Frenetic pacing
- Plenty of extra features
- Loads of challenge
Things You Might Not Like
- As with all shmups, it gets CRAZY difficult toward the end
Jamestown manages to replicate everything we all loved from the shoot’em up arcade games of (some of) our youth while simultaneously improving the genre.
5 out of 5 Spanish Armadas Defeated
All of us who’ve grown up in America (and hey even the Brits!) know the story of the early settlements of the ‘New World’. The ill-fated Roanoke colony and more successful Jamestown colony are part of America’s origin. The term seemed strange to most of us, as it was more of a ‘new continen’”. Well, Jamestown takes the term ‘New World’ literally. Set on the planet Mars in the distant future, Jamestown engrossingly re-imagines the settling of the New World…with rocketships…and laser guns…and Martians. In short, it’s awesome.
Graphically, Jamestown delivers. Now, if you’d read any of my reviews, you know that I love old-school art; so it’s no surprise that Jamestown resonates with me. Fans of shoot‘em ups (shmups) are used to this style, especially since there are few shmups made these days and even less are made to cutting-edge graphical standards. We all know that those types of graphics are often outdated rather quickly, but 16-bit classics always look awesome. When you explore Jamestown’s options, you can set it to ‘Pixel Perfect’, which is the exact resolution the programmers developed it. The other two options stretch the image out to fit your monitor in different ways. I recommend Pixel Perfect, since it’s the clearest of the display settings.
Any good shmup worth its salt has detailed backgrounds to both fascinate you and overload your senses so the enemies will destroy you. Jamestown is no different. Bullet Hell accurately describes this game and, when you actually manage to weave around some enemy fire, you’ll feel pretty good about yourself. Of course, this is also when you’ll get killed. Don’t get cocky. The visualization of Martian forces, as well as neo-classical British and Spanish forces, are incredibly well done. It’s part The Patriot and part H.P. Lovecraft. Martian forces have a Cthulhu-esque look that is both inspired and original, and the ground troops look oddly appropriate in this setting.
Oh, and did I mention the soundtrack? Epic is a word. Epic is a good word. The music perfectly compliments the action on screen and, when you’re weaving through a mine far beneath Mars’ surface in pursuit of a Spanish Conquistador, that’s what you want. I would go as far as to say the soundtrack is on par with any of the better scores I’ve heard.
Gameplay, ah, the gameplay. It’s fantastic. Everything you loved about previous shmups is here. We’re not talking about a simple vertical shooter here. Yes, the classic elements are there, but there are plenty of twists and tweaks to make Jamestown unique. Perhaps the most important factor that makes Jamestown unique is the Vaunt mechanic. Every time an enemy is destroyed, they drop golden cogs and rings of proportionate sizes. Move quickly to grab them, because they fill up your Vaunt meter which, in turn, lets you kick off a temporary shield (which absorbs bullets and drives up your score). Your damage is also amplified as the meter slowly wears down, but collecting more cogs keeps the meter going. By the way, you can also trade in your active Vaunt for a brief, secondary shield which can help you get out of a tight spot.
You can unlock four different vehicles as you earn more ducats for successfully completing each level. My favorite was the standard ship, ‘Beam’. Something about the beam mechanic really works for me. Each of the five levels can be played at one of five difficulties and, as you advance, Jamestown will start to demand you complete later levels at higher difficulties. No storming the final boss on Normal difficulty. This means you’ll actually have to get better at the game. Let me say for the record, that Legendary difficulty is tough enough. I cannot tell you how many times I had to replay the final level. If you can conquer Divine difficulty, the first round is on me. In addition to the rewards for completing levels, you earn Ducats. These can be redeemed in the in-game store to unlock extra ships, bonus challenges, and even a “Farce” mode, which swaps out the original, slightly serious story for a goofy, lighthearted take on the events.
When you get right down to it, Jamestown has all the charm and fun of a classic arcade game, but with modern polish. Don’t miss out on this one.
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