Jamestown will remind older players of days in the arcade. With its old-school looks and feel it seems to try and pull at some nostalgia string buried deep inside you.
It’s a very simple concept. Basically, you’re in some kind of weird ship shooting at stuff (you can unlock 3 other ships using money you earn after completing missions). You have a “normal” fire, a “special” fire, and an ability called a “vaunt”. I’ll try to explain these: normal is boring and weak, special isn’t very special – you’ll be using it most of the time – and vaunt basically protects you for a short period of time and strengthens your attack. You can use normal and special attacks whenever you want but you need to collect enough gears (I think that’s what they are, anyways) in order to use your vaunt ability. An aptly timed vaunt can be invaluable.
As you play the game these red triangle things will appear as you defeat enemies. What these do is revive one dead teammate (unless you’re playing the easiest difficulty in which case all your teammates will be revived). Since you’re given 2 credits for each mission, picking up these triangle things gives you the chance to avoid using up a credit when it might come in handy down the road. Knowing when to pick these up when under fire can make a difference between whether or not you will successfully complete the level. That being said, there isn’t much “down the road” to be had. Missions are very short (less than 5 or so minutes) and the bosses are pretty straightforward.
There’s only 5 missions total, so the game doesn’t seem that long on the surface. Well, there’s a bit of a catch. It seems that the developers realized that their game would be a little too easy so in an effort to lengthen it they’ve made it a requirement to play the missions on certain difficulty levels in order to unlock them down the road. This is a cheap trick that pissed us off when we had gone through the first part of the game several times over by that point. Want a tip? Start on legendary mode. It’s not that difficult for the first 4 missions but in order to unlock mission 5 it’s necessary to complete missions 1-4 on legendary. You’re welcome.
And this brings me to the next point. Why is mission 5 so completely different than the other 4? In the first 4 missions you kill things and evade incoming fire. Nothing special there. But when you get to mission 5 walls start moving and you basically have to navigate a moving puzzle while you’re on the go fighting some Martians (I’m getting to it). I’m not complaining – it wasn’t hard once Colby and I got the hang of it – but it was completely unexpected on our first run through. The gameplay mechanics of the 5th level are so radically different than the rest of the game that it caught us offguard.
The story is just… weird. Let me just say that it’s the 1600s and the Spanish haved teamed up with the Martians. Yeah. I don’t know who thought of that – or what they were smoking – but it is, as far as I know, certainly an original idea! I’ll let you experience the rest!
Despite this game being short and the developers taking an annoying short cut in an effort to extend it, I actually had a lot of fun with this game for the reason that will probably turn a lot of potential players off. Due to its co-op nature not only do you (realistically) need gamepads (one player can use the keyboard), but you also need players to, well, play. Colby and I played through the game together but I can’t imagine what it would have been like alone. Every death would blow a credit. If you’re the kind of person that lives in their mom’s basement without any friends this really isn’t the game for you. If you have a bunch of friends willing to play a retro-styled arcade game then go for it!
In the end this game has a lot of drawbacks and the whole difficulty issue is bullshit. But when you have a few people over and you’re playing the game together it all makes sense and it is a lot of fun. Until you get stuck and throw the controller at the monitor in frustration, anyways. Don’t ask…
Oh, and Alex? There’s achievements!