Sitting down with a shoot 'em up is always a daunting task. The genre as a whole doesn't exactly lend itself to being relaxing, what with the whole "bullet hell" thing. These games aren’t calming, they aren't forgiving, and they aren't for the faint at heart. Frankly, it's a hard genre to love, but, once it sinks its teeth into you, you're hooked. There's a point where the punishing level design separates from the madness of everything that's happening on screen and you start to see a path (or you understand that it's pointless to do anything but react), and that's when you've become a shmup fan. Jamestown+ is the latest shmup to land on the PlayStation 4, and it brings with it everything that you either love or hate about the genre, wrapped up in a wonderfully twisted, historical package.
Who: Developer: Final Form Games Publisher: Final Form Games
Final Form Games are a small, indie studio based in Philadelphia, PA, and Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony is their biggest claim to fame. Legend of the Lost Colony was the original version of Jamestown+ that made waves in the PC gaming scene back in 2011. Since then the team has been releasing DLC, and refining their work to be released as Jamestown+ on the PlayStation 4.
What: Jamestown is a fairly traditional, vertically scrolling, 2D, shoot 'em up that attempts to tell the story of the lost colony of Jamestown in an alternate version of history. The story takes place on British Colonial Mars, and pushes players through a series of levels that will test their skills and their patience as they try and survive. One key mechanic helps separate Jamestown from the rest of the shmup pack: vaunt. Vaunting allows players to increase their damage, and rack up bonus points once a vaunt is initiated, after collecting enough golden gears from fallen enemies. The only way to pull a high score on each level is to perfect your vaunt skills, and try and keep your multiplier going. Up to four players can take on the Mars mission, in single player, or co-op. The game comes packed with content, offering up an assortment of ships that bend to whatever your preferred play style is, weapons, levels, missions, and more that open up as you challenge yourself throughout the game.
Where: The PlayStation 4 is the only place that you can pick up Jamestown+, and get "the definitive release of the co-op neo-classic." Even though you may already own Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony on PC, OS X, or Linux, Jamestown+ updates the experience by giving the game a refresh, adding new content, and remastering the soundtrack. When you look at the scope of updates, it's hard to argue with Final Form that this is truly the best version of their game.
Why: Jamestown+ isn’t for everyone, but it is for people that have a hard time warming up to shmups. The game is paced exceptionally well, making it more accessible than most of its peers, pushing players to build their skills before they can venture deeper into the game. The lower difficulty levels offer a little bit of forgiveness, making it more inviting for most gamers to pick up and play, especially if they have some friends to join them in the co-op mode. Previous fans of The Lost Colony should be excited with the prospect of an updated experience, and new fans should embrace the release wholeheartedly, as it's a great entry into the shoot 'em up genre, and maybe their first taste of what's to come.