Jamestown: Your go to game for alternative history shoot-em-ups!

The New World is MARS!

I picked up Jamestown on a whim awhile back… Though now probably isn’t a bad time to get the game on STEAM now it’s only $6.69. The STEAM summer sale is going on right now though so it might be going for a lot less than that in the next 8 days. How you get it though really isn’t the focus of this review, is it?

Jamestown is a local multiplayer, neo-classical, vertical shooter set in 17th century colonial Mars. Players will take on the role of Sir Walter Raleigh (at first; three other characters are unlockable through gameplay) as he tries to win his way back to earth and King James court in England. As Raleigh makes his way across the surface of Mars he’ll encounter Martians, the Spanish, and multiple long lost,super-powerful, civilizations that threaten England’s colony and the life of everyone on the planet. Granted, the storyline in a shooter is superfluous but the setting and artwork in Jamestown are so unique and compelling that not mentioning them seemed a crime. But, you don’t need me to tell you that there are dozens of videos on Youtube, Steam, and the official site that show off how great the game looks. Shooters live and die on their design and gameplay.

Colonial Mars needs your protection from rampaging native Martians

Jamestown, especially at more difficult levels, is a bullet hell shooter. A genre I’ve never been too good at; I don’t have the patience for memorizing bullet patterns and making delicate, precise movements. You control your ship (with either the keyboard, mouse, or controller) and unleash waves of bullets on the oncoming hoards of enemies. There are four different ships, each with their own shooting patterns: a regular shot and a more powerful alternate. Each enemy you destroy drops little bolts or gears that fill up a bar in the upper left of the screen. Once the bar is filled you can activate “vaunt” which creates a temporary shield that absorbs all enemy bullets and increases the damage inflicted by your weapon. Using “vaunt” wisely is the key to racking up high scores; once activated the bar will slowly begin to deplete collecting bolts and gears will re-fill it the longer your “vaunt” lasts the more bonus points you earn.

This is the easy part of the game...

You’re going to need those high scores too; they determine how much money you make at the end of each stage. Money you’re going to want to unlock the other three ships in the game, as well as the harder difficulties, and various challenges. As I said earlier bullet hell games aren’t my strength, Jamestown wasn’t so difficult and frustrating that I ever threw my mouse at the screen or slammed my fists on the keyboard, practice is all it takes to get through the games six levels. Only six? Yes, only six. The game will require you to beat the first three levels a number of times too to unlock the last three in the campaign (unless of course you start playing the game on higher difficulty levels. In general, I don’t appreciate forcing players to replay levels on harder difficulty levels, but the practice came in handy in later stages when the bullet patterns can get quite complex…

From here you can go anywhere!

Jamestown has multiplayer co-op for up to four people but, it’s only local. This is a real negative because it means that I’ll never be able to play this game with friends and it means most people won’t either… How many people’s computers are in rooms big enough to fit four people comfortably, have a screen large enough for everyone to see clearly what their doing and have four controllers? The game does support mouse (which is how I played it) and keyboard controls¬† but two people using a keyboard has never been comfortable. Here’s to hoping internet multiplayer gets patched in.

The first stage boss and the first ship's alternate fire

I beat Jamestown in about 4 hours. More experienced shooter fans could probably do it in less than half that. Good thing there are insane difficulty levels to attempt as well as 20 challenges to unlock and complete. There is a lot here to like and not much to complain about. if you’re a shooter fan I don’t know why you wouldn’t pick this game up, outside of the bizarre touhou/loli subset.

RATING: 4 stars

Author: Jonathon

Would rather be out swimming, running, or camping. Works in state government. Spent a youth reading genre-fiction; today, he is making up for it by reading large quantities of non-fiction literature. The fact that truth, in every way, is more fascinating than fiction still tickles him.

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