Jamestown
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Jamestown is a great top down shooter with a really interesting setting and some gorgeous pixel art visuals. It is best enjoyed with three other friends crowded around the computer, but even solo players will enjoy the challenge. The fact that it only features five levels is disappointing, but they are all very good and there are plenty of other challenges and unlockables to keep you busy. Overall, this is a title that we can wholeheartedly recommend to fans of the genre, but it is worth mentioning that there appears to be no more support from the developers for this PC version of the game.

Gameplay: Challenging and addictive, especially when played with friends.

Graphics: The pixel art visuals look great and really captures the classic feel of the genre.

Sound: The soundtrack is incredible, although the sound effects could have been better

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Jamestown

Developer: Final Form Games | Publisher: Final Form Games | Release Date: 2011 | Genre: Action / Shooter / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Jamestown is the story of Sir Walter Raleigh, a wanted criminal who narrowly escapes execution back on Earth. However, it seems that Raleigh is not as guilty as everyone thinks and a burning desire to clear his name drives him towards Mars, known as the “New World” to many. It is here where British colonials are fighting a bitter war against Spain, with the latter making use of tentacled Martians to aid them in battle. Raleigh initially sets out to discover what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke in order to prove his innocence and loyalty to the crown, but he is quickly caught up in a battle that could change the fate of Mars.

It is not unusual for top down shooters to feature elaborate and far fetched storylines to justify all the explosions, but the 17th Century British Colonial Mars of Jamestown is definitely unique. The blend of steam-punk weaponry and American history inspired science fiction is a surprisingly good one and definitely adds a unique flavor to the game. You soon discover that your main nemesis is the dastardly Spanish Conquistador, but in order to take him down you are going to have to blast your way through five levels of mayhem.

Most of the good games in this genre tend to originate from Japan, so it is good to see a small group of indie developers from Philadelphia come up with something this good. While Jamestown is perfectly playable on your own, it is clear to see that the game was developed with four player co-op in mind. Playing with a couple of friends also makes the game slightly easier as only one player has to survive in order to bring back their fallen comrades. This is in contrast to the single player mode where you have two continues and if they run out you will have to restart the level from scratch. Unfortunately, the co-op is local only, so unfortunately you are out of luck if all your friends are online.

Jamestown offers four playable ships, with an additional four available as DLC. The four original ships can all be purchased with in-game coins and all have their own unique primary as well as secondary attacks. One thing that all the ships share is the ability to “Vaunt,” which provides the ship with a bullet shield while also increasing their firepower and score multiplier. Vaunting is tied to a special meter that is filled by collecting the gears and cogwheels that are dropped by defeated foes. This adds a strategic element to the game as you try and keep your vaunt meter charged for as long as possible to reap the rewards.

Speaking of enemies, Jamestown features more than 40 types of enemies to defeat and five huge bosses to take down. Unfortunately, the game only has five levels, although you will have to complete some levels multiple times on higher difficulty settings to unlock them all. An additional twenty “bonus” levels also become available and while these take place on the same levels as the story mode, they offer unique challenges to overcome. Staying alive for fifteen seconds might sound very easy on paper, but wait until you are faced with a screen full of bullet spewing bombs. In addition to the challenge missions, you can also unlock the “Gauntlet” mode for an extra challenge.

There is a certain nostalgia about seeing top down shooters with pixel art visuals and Jamestown excels in this regard. The backgrounds are all detailed and enemies come at you in swarms. It is also not unusual to see your screen filled with bullets without a hint of slowdown in sight. Enemy designs are interesting and the game also features a couple of very big bosses that have weak spots that you will need to exploit in order to survive their onslaught. The only downside is that with only five levels, it won’t take very long until you have seen everything that the game has to offer. Fortunately, it is addictive enough that you will want to keep coming back for more. With five difficulty levels, the game is challenging enough for players of all skill levels, although as mentioned earlier, it really helps to have friends along for the ride. Good music is another must for a good shooter and once again Jamestown doesn’t disappoint. It features an epic orchestral soundtrack courtesy of Francisco Cerda, which sounds like it was ripped straight from an action movie. The sound effects are a little weak in comparison to the great music, but at least it makes it easier to appreciate the tunes. The controls are very responsive, especially when playing with a decent controller, but rustling together four of them for some multiplayer action might prove to be a challenge.

As great as Jamestown is, there are a couple of things bringing it down. For one, it seems like the developers have completely abandoned the PC version of the game, so don’t expect any kind of support if you run into trouble. In fact, there appears to be a bug in the game that renders all the normally colorful bullets in monochrome and you need to enable the legacy build of the game to get past it. It also appears to be impossible to buy the DLC ships from the Steam store since the implementation of regional currencies, so new owners appear to be out of luck when it comes to getting their hands on them.

If you can overlook the fact that the developers have pretty much given up on the PC version of the game, then you’ll find that Jamestown is one heck of a game. Apart from the classics coming out of Japan, it is one of the best top down shooters that we have played on PC. The fact that it only has five levels is a bit of a bummer, but all the extras you can unlock, including a “Farce” mode that makes the already silly storyline even sillier means it has plenty of longevity. You’ll definitely get the most out of it when playing with friends, but even solo it’s a game that all shooter fans will enjoy.

System Requirements

  • OS: Microsoft® Windows® XP with SP2 / Vista / 7
  • Processor: Intel® Pentium™ 4 2.4 GHz or better
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 250 MB
  • Video Card: Any OpenGL 2.0 graphics card with 256MB+ video RAM and full GLSL support
  • DirectX®: DirectX® 9.0c
  • Additional: One keyboard, controller, or mouse required per player. Supports multiple mice and/or keyboards. 3-buttons required for mouse play.
  • OS: OS X version Snow Leopard 10.6.3 or later.
  • Processor: Intel® Core2 Duo 2.1 Ghz or better
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 250 MB
  • Video Card: Any OpenGL 2.0 graphics card with 256MB+ video RAM and full GLSL support
  • Additional: One keyboard, controller, or mouse required per player. Supports multiple joysticks. 3-buttons required for mouse play.
  • OS: OS X version Yosemite 10.10.3 or later.
  • Processor: Intel® Core2 Duo 2.1 Ghz or better
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 250 MB
  • Video Card: Any OpenGL 2.0 graphics card with 512MB+ video RAM and full GLSL support
  • Additional: One keyboard, controller, or mouse required per player. Supports multiple joysticks. 3-buttons required for mouse play.

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