41 of 48 people (85%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 6, 2014
Pretty damn awesome old school shooter that gives any of the top japaense bullet hells game more than a run for their money. If you like the genre you need to play this. Also top notch presentation, artwork and music.
A really well designed game that accomplishes what it sets out to do with aplomb.
Jamestown has one of the very best soundtracks in an indie game (and I play a lot of indie games). It would fit in a huge budget movie brilliantly, gives the game a sense of urgency and scope even though it's just a vertical shooter. Listen to it: http://finalformgames.bandcamp.com/album/jamestown-soundtrack
Then there's graphics. I'm a sucker for good pixel art and Jamestown really delivers in that department. The theme is pretty insane (American colonial wars on Mars) but again, this was a given for games made 20 years ago. I'm really happy there are still devs who writing that kind of silly but fun story nowadays.
Game mechanics are both simple and skill-rewarding. You get a Vaunt meter that fills up when you collect gold from destroyed enemies, and when it's full you can activate the special. You'll get a shield for few seconds and your weapon will turn a different color and do more damage. If you want to sustain this you'll have to keep getting more gold. Larger enemies drop bigger amounts but you can also do combos on some enemies - destroying parts of them in a specific order or hitting them in a particular moment. This adds so much depth to the gameplay.
There are only five levels in the whole game but each one is meticulously drawn and designed. The devs managed to convert this limitation in their favor. There are six difficulties to choose from and each new level cuts out the easiest one - that way you'll have to play the last level on one of the two hardest difficulties - Divine and Judgement. And believe me - this will test you. It's not as brutal as Japanese shmups but it gets intense. There are also 4 ships to choose from with different weapons and specials (the Gunner being my favorite). The DLC adds 4 more ships. Small number of levels didn't stop the devs from making a big number of shorter, bonus ones. You unlock these with coins you earn after your level evaluation. There's also a gauntlet mode where you play levels in order. Tough as nails but really satisfying.
There's local co-op and it's done brilliantly. You can fully customize the controls and play 4-person co-op with one gamepad, a mouse and a keyboard. There's even an achievement for completing a level that way. No online though, not a problem for me but some people can see it as a serious flaw.
I simply love this game. Wish more people would play it. It really reminds me of my Amiga days.
Jamestown might be the most refined game I've played in the last decade. A top down bullet hell shooter set in an alternate history timeline (largely mirroring early American history, only this time with aliens), it presents itself with an air of confidence, as if it realizes what a pedigree its of and is determined to make you see so as well.
You can try to break down what makes Jamestown so great into understandable pieces of a larger whole, but it's the combination of them all that pushes it beyond a decent reimagining of classic shmups, into a modern classic. The feel of the ships is relentlessly precise, the action ferocious and incredibly satisfying, and the presentation presenting a remarkably well realized world (despite how little exposition there is).
The more you play Jamestown, the more these elements shine, upping the ante at a breakneck pace, forcing you to improve or perish. However, it does so in a way that allows for a natural increase in skill, letting players ease into the challenge instead of pushing them into it right from the start like the games of the genre are so known for. It also creates a continuous stream of rewards for players that manage to improve past the point of entry, with more elaborate enemy designs, tougher boss fights, and some truly grueling challenge levels. And then you have the coop, the glorious coop, the only flaw of which is that it is sadly local only. Should you get a chance to play with some friends though, it's a fantastic experience that scales perfectly and adds even more replay value as you go through levels that now feel new once again.
At times the action is so intense that it's hard to even keep track of your ship, let alone take in all that Jamestown has to offer, but when you can manage to take a step back it's incredible the level of polish applied to even the smallest areas of the game. I was quite frankly taken aback when I first gave it a try, and this feeling was renewed even up to the very last boss fight, which was as epic and satisfying as I could have hoped for. If you have even the most remote fondness for bullet hell games, Jamestown is about as penultimate an entry point into the genre as you could hope for. Everyone with more than a passing enjoyment of the genre should have played it long ago, but if not, consider this a wake up call that you've been sleeping on something awesome.
You can read more of my writing on Kritiqal[kritiqal.com].
Jamestown seems intent to bring back that closeness that comes with old-school arcade games. Supporting up to 4 player local co-op with any combination of mouse, keyboard, and contollers, Jamestown stands out from the crowd.
On top of the multiplayer focus, Jamestown has a unique setting and great design. The story takes place in an alternate history of the colony of Jamestown on Mars, and that's about all there is to say. The art is great, nothing too special, but the music is fantastic. The epic soundtrack fits the intensity that the game reaches at certain difficulty levels.
The pacing and progression hold Jamestown together nicely. The in game store allows you to buy new difficulty mode and bonus levels that both offer up some intense challenge. The game slowly makes you incrase the difficulty to reach new levels, which pushes you to practice and push yourself. There is also a joke mode that takes the already outlandish story and makes it even sillier.
High scores are the main incentive for replaying. The game offers up a combination of any 4 ships that have their own unique play style, and the combinations can get pretty insane on-screen. Vaunt mode can be activated after collecting a certain amount of gold and it releases giant shield that can aborsb bullets that will raise your score and save your friends. On top of this, enemies will also offer up bonus points if you hit them at a certain point or time ( I have barely figured out any of these). There are also many difficulty settings that can turn this game into a frantic bullet hell.
This game is highly recommended with some friends. Even though the local co-op only may be a turn off, this will be a great excuse to see some of your friends in person.
***The DLC offers up 3 great new ships and pilots (Guy Fawkes included), and each of them are different and fantastic.
Another cool bullet-hell shooter (though nowhere near Crimzon Clover level) with a unique setting, a variety of ships (with more via DLC) and interesting progression (you have to beat the previous levels on higher difficulties to progress through the game) make this a shmup that purists should check out. Oh, and it's 4-player. Haven't seen a 4-player shooter since Blast Works on the Wii.
Jamestown is an extremely solid shmup, with one really fantastic advantage over other shmups.
As a single player game, it doesn't match the classics it takes inspiration from. The bullet patterns and level designs are solid but also a bit bland and lacking in strategic variety. It's good, but not great.
Where it really shines is multiplayer, as unlike the tacked on co op of your average Cave game, Jamestown's mechanics and gameplay were finely balanced around co op from the start. It's probably the best co op shmup ever made, and that's definitely something to brag about.
It also has one of the best and most creative settings and aesthetics for a shmup outside of a Cave game. The theme, music, pixel art, and setting are excellent.
If you don't have anyone to play with (local multiplayer only), than Jamestown is a decent shmup that should probably be somewhere in the middle of your wishlist compared to some of the other excellent PC shmups out there. However, if you have some friends to play with, it's an absolute must buy.
Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony is a fun, one to four player simultaneous, vertically scrolling bullet hail shoot'em up that brings a modern take to an old genre. It twists the familiar space shooter into a new frontier classic. You don't pilot a spaceship, instead you're in what looks like a futuristic flight chair. Don't get deceived, this chair packs a punch, its got standard lasers, a special beam and shields. Thankfully, you can hold the button down for a stream of lasers. This is a game of fun, challenge and points, not wearing you out.
The game has more than beautiful visuals, its got gorgeous gameplay mechanics that get explained in the tutorial. You collect gold nuts to fill up a shield meter, then when its full, you can use the shield to briefly block bullets. When that shield goes away, your red projectiles turn purple and you now have 50% higher damage and you get double your score. Aggression gets rewarded, because your meter starts to drain pretty quick unless you get more "gold." This gold also doubles as the in game currency.
With this currency you can buy many things including three new ships, each with different weapons. Your starter chair's standard beam is a nice wide spread to make things easy and accessible, you'll feel powerful right off the bat. You also have a strong forward beam to rip through enemies. There's a subtlety to it though, you'll go slightly slower and I have no problem with that.
From there you can buy a more complex chair that has a fat wave of a forward beam, but instead of having a more powerful weapon, holding the button lets you rotate the angle of the beam. So you can have the beam shoot in 360 degrees all while still having a meager front gun. The third ship has a double front laser, but it has a giant sphere that charges between your power shots. When you launch the projectile it moves slow, but in a way that's good, because that delay gives me time to get away while still avoiding projectiles. The fourth chair is a stream of a single laser, but your power attack detonates every beam. I give them credit for such creativity, but I couldn't find much of a use for it. Its designed to shoot next to the enemy, then detonate it so you get the most damage.
Jamestown an accessible game, because the first three levels let you get your feet wet with a normal (easiest) difficulty. Its no pushover though, because to get to the fourth level, you'll need to complete the first three on difficult. Then to get into the fifth, you'll need to complete all four of the previous levels on legendary difficulty. No bullet hail shooter would be complete without two more difficulties above that. To some that may make it a grind having to replay levels, but I'd rather play the same levels twice on a harder difficulty than play the hardest difficulty right off the bat. That just scares people away.
Since you're flying a chair, bullets only kill you when you the pilot get hit. Every death respawns you. Every continue brings up an arcade style countdown and when you run out of continues, you'll need to restart the level. This all makes the game forgiving, friendly and fun. It wants you to play it. It wants you to complete it and most of all it wants you to have fun. It rewards you with the gold you've collected in a level whether you complete it or die. You're always rewarded.
After each level, you get dumped back to the game's menu. On this menu you can select any unlocked level, visit the game's shop or bonus challenge levels. I do feel it breaks up the action, but there's a gauntlet mode that lets you play the entire five level game start to finish with limited continues. At the start of the game, you're instantly given enough gold to purchase gauntlet mode. They know how unconventional a sort of hub menu is for a game like this, so they offer the traditional route.
One thing that I didn't like on all menus was having a mouse pointer. Even using a 360 controller, you still have to use it as a mouse cursor. I suppose this was because there's so much going on the game's main menu with being able to select a locale on the world map to enter a level. While it was precise, I feel it was inefficient.
The game is obviously a retro 90s style of gorgeous. I can tell the amount of love that got poured into this game with the detail in it. The levels are all completely different, and every enemy is too. You won't find the same enemies level to level, or even reskins. They're all different, with different habits. There's such a wide variety of enemies on a single level, let alone in all five. You've got agile ships, big ships, ground crawlers, wall turrets that shoot out horizontally and so much more. More importantly is these enemies are fun to destroy. They explode and it just feels good to laser through them. I think its one of the core elements needed to make a shoot'em up fun.
The bosses are massive, almost screen filling with multiple patterns and parts. The parts are even marked on the meters at the top of the screen. You'll know this boss has three or five segments. They get more difficult with each stage. These bosses turn the game into a pattern based bullet hail. Windmills of bullets, different patterns, they all fill the screen, but the game is so pixel perfect you can dodge them without exact precision. Every boss is different, some you need to disable sections or pods. Others you'll need to damage their projectiles to even hurt them. When they open up to a moment of vulnerability, its on then. Just power blast your way into them and its just so satisfying to destroy a boss with screen filling explosions.
Destroying a section of the boss or even big enemies destroy their projectiles. So there's a risk reward. Stay there with a bullet coming at you knowing you can blast off that segment or do you dodge? Its a good risk and reward there.
The fifth level changes the mold of each level. There are moving walls that make things difficult. Luckily the walls don't hurt you unless they have spikes or they crush you. It was a nice touch that kept it interesting at the end.
After each level, you're greeted with a breakdown of your score along with your rank. You also get to see the story to progress, and while I can say that the artwork is beautiful for the story, I didn't find myself reading any of it. It can be Shakespeare, but I just wanted to get back to the action. You can skip the story or even buy a lighthearted story from the shoppe.
I can't forget the music though, its grandiose in a 90s era sort of way. Its another fantastic thing that stands up about the game. No offense to Jamestown, but it was from a game like Final Fantasy from the 90s, people would herald it as one of the best soundtracks. There's a variety of feels to each song, everything from a frontier wild west sort of fun song, to things that would sound at home in a Predator of Aliens game from the 90s.
For those that like a challenge, there are five levels of difficulty and a hardcore mode without auto-respawn that you can buy from the store. There are more than a dozen challenging bonus maps. Everything from survive X amount seconds to score Y amount of points in X seconds. While I can survive the most crazy bullet bomb explosions, I'm not good enough to score big points. You've also got leader boards to keep you in game.
If you're a bullet hail or shooter fan this is a must own. The 90s style and fun combat make it entertaining for multiple play throughs. Well worth $10 for the 2 hours.
I love local co-op. And this is one of the best. Me and three of my friends, sprawled on the couch, shouting at each other -- "I'm down! Someone grab a revive!" "WHOA, get to the left!" "VAUNT! VAUNT! VAUNT!" It's an incredible blast.
Other points, if you need 'em: the art is good, the soundtrack is FANTASTIC (we always sing along with the final boss level's super awesome music), the advancing difficulty mechanism is clever, and the vaunt gimmick is interestingly tactical without being complicated.
I can't let it go without mentioning that they have GREAT controller support and keyboard/mouse support. I cannot fathom why other designers don't implement the level of wide support these guys have. My weird off-brand Chinese controller, my XBOX controller, my friend's no-name controller, and the keyboard all play nicely together in the same co-op game.
I am a big fan of bullet hell games and this one is done so damn well. The story of war in colonial Jamestown, Mars is odd but brilliant. The controls and movements are perfectly smooth and feel perfect. The graphics and particle effects are beautiful. It's a great, quick time sink, especially if you enjoy the genre.