- Video Games
- About Us
Roanoke was a British colony established in 1585 whose inhabitants literally vanished into thin air. Over the years many people have put forth theories as to how this happened but developer Final Form Games have come up with what I think is the best theory with their debut title Jamestown: The Legend of The Lost Colony. According to the game, Roanoke was wiped out by a joint Spanish-Martian invasion force.
Jamestown: Legend of The Lost Colony is described by Final Form Games as a neo-classical top down shooter that aims to recapture the awesome fast paced gameplay of classic top down shooters (or shmups as they are known to some).
While the plot of most shmups is fairly unimportant, Final Form deserves recognition for the plot and story elements of Jamestown. it is told from some dramatic cutscenes that retell elements of history and British colonization in the context of the game's science fiction/steampunk setting. Although the story is entirely skippable for those who want to get straight to the gameplay, it's very cool to see that Final Form Games have gone out of their way to put together a story that actually works really well for the gameplay.
That gameplay is definitely the meat of Jamestown and it delivers quality top down shooting perfectly, and it is a blast to play (no pun intended) It is fast, but not too fast. The enemies are many, but not too many. The weapons make you feel like a boss, but don’t make the game easy. It’s easy to see that Jamestown was made by people who love their top down shooters like I do. Jamestown is fairly open to the idea of cooperative multiplayer and to this extent it offers up to four-player multiplayer using any combination of multiple mouses, keyboards and gamepads. While I didn’t get to try the game with a gamepad, I found the mouse more precise but the keyboard more responsive, which control device you use really comes down to personal preference and that’s just fine by me. While in single player you have several sets of lives, in multiplayer the game uses a respawn mechanic that makes the game much more fun but still challenging.
You have access to upto four kinds of ship. You unlock them by spending money which you earn at the end of each level. There are four ship types in all and they are all very diff erent and they all suit different styles of player. The Beam ship shoots a giant laser. The Gunner lets you customize your angle of fire. The Charge lets you charge up a powerful spherical shot and the Bomber lets you shoot bombs and then detonate them mid air.
At first glance, Jamestown can seem kinda short. The game’s single player only features five stages and while top down shooters aren’t exactly known for their length, this is still pretty short. However, the game features five difficulty levels and starting at Normal and ending at Judgement difficulty. The way that it is structured means that in order to play the later levels of the single player, you have to play through the lower levels on higher difficulty. This would ordinarily be tedious but the more of Jamestown I played, the more nuances to the gameplay I discovered.
One feature that I found makes Jamestown all the more awesome was the Vaunt meter. When enemies die you pick up gold that they leave behind and this fills up your Vaunt meter. When you activate your Vaunt meter you shoot faster and do more damage, you also gain a rapidly depleting forcefield which turns any incoming bullets into points. Where the strategy of this mechanic comes in is in whether to decide to use the Vaunt meter offensively to take down foes or to use it defensively to save yourself from dying. While the difficulty curve is excellent, there are times towards the later levels where you will literally be dodging seas of bullets and in those sequences your use of the Vaunt meter becomes a matter of life and death.
The game also features a Gauntlet mode which allows you to play through the entire game on a single set of lives and twenty bonus levels which impose various challenges upon you. Another element of Jamestown that deserves recognition is the fantastic level, sound and art design that Final Form have shown with Jamestown. The levels are all varied and showcase different sets of enemies and challenges. The pixel art of both your ship and the environments are fantastically put together and Jamestown feels like an authentic 1990’s top down shooter. But no top down shooter would be complete without a snazzy soundtrack, and each level features a fantastic orchestral score by Francisco Cerda that perfectly suits the tone of the game.
I’ve always been a huge fan of top down shooters but Jamestown is more than just a tribute to the awesome schmup franchises of the past, its a fabulous game in its own right that takes everything that made top down shooters fun in the past and polishes it to modern standards.
Jamestown is available now for PC.