One of the PAX 10, Jamestown is a game that takes classic arcade-style top-down shooters in the style of Galaga and gives them an innovative storyline and a steam-punk feel. In this game, you are Sir Walter Raleigh, sent to protect the new Jamestown colony… on Mars?
Yup, Mars is now the new frontier, and must be protected from the Martian population. Does that make us the bad guys? Invaders of a new world, fighting the indigenous people? Try not to worry about that too much.
Against a background of beautiful hand-painted graphics, the spaceships and characters are reminiscent of what you might have seen in Final Fantasy III. The orchestral music gives the game an epic quality and a level of urgency.
The game can be set to one of five different difficulty levels (ranging from “normal” to “judgement”) and can be played with up to four people in cooperative mode. From the very beginning, the game is intense, with waves of aliens coming right at you as you zip around in your ship (you start with one and can unlock more as you progress through the game). Collecting the nuts and gears that fall from the aliens as they are destroyed earns you points and builds your Vaunt meter. Once your Vaunt meter is full, you can activate a power boost that increases your survivability and damage.
I played the game on PC though Steam, using the mouse as my controller. You can also use the keyboard or a gamepad controller to guide your ship. While I found that using the mouse was easy, it’s important to remember that your mouse will send your ship in the direction you wish to fly, rather than controlling the movement of the ship itself. I think that playing the game with an analog stick controller might actually give the player better control of the ship.
The game is fun and a great way to relax at the end of a hard day – an excellent quality in any game. You don’t have to think about strategy too much and blasting away at aliens is wonderfully cathartic. Older games will likely appreciate the nostalgic feel of Jamestown, as they are taken back to the shooters of their youth. It’s an easy game to pick up and learn and, thanks to the wide range of difficulty levels, is exactly as challenging as you make it. This is also an ideal game for kids to try their hands at. The controls are simple and you don’t have to remember a lot of actions.
Jamestown is available for $9.99 on Steam.