By: Jeff Cater
It has been a great while since the bullet hell genre has had any truly standout title — since Ikaruga charmed us with its unique flip of the scene. Final Form Games has brought us an updated version of the 2011 PC hit Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony in the form of Jamestown Plus. Uncover the mysteries of the lost colony of Roanoke and territories far beyond our own world, and perhaps even find out why these events are referred to as mysteries in our history books.
On top of being able to fully customize your control mapping in-game and now being able to switch bindings of any button on your DualShock 4 thanks to a recent update in the PS4’s firmware, Jamestown Plus is a game that is very easy to get into.
You’ll use the left stick to weave your ship in and out of waves of gunfire, while suppressing the endless rank of the enemy with the X button. Upon collecting enough gears from downed foes, you can press square to activate your ship’s Vaunt attack, which can be anything from enemy-seeking missiles to an energy-wave producing turret.
Of course, as mentioned above, any of these buttons can be re-mapped as you see fit, so if you can’t adjust to it it’s your own damn fault.
As with most games in the bullet hell genre, Jamestown Plus is viewed from a top-down vertical scrolling perspective. It harkens back to the golden arcade shooter days, and the action is fast, constant and packs the screen with masses of enemies and hundreds of projectiles. And even with four players there is virtually no slowdown during the most intense of fights!
The wide variety of enemies you blast to bits are animated and drawn very well, but it’s pretty hard to notice given the average enemy’s lifespan. All of the action and combat is tied together perfectly by a unique Steampunk take on the 16th century history of the British Colonies and the crazy inventions that allowed heroes such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Guy Fawkes to take to the skies.
The musical score is an epic construct that induces pride and justification in your fight against the menacing aliens, while the screams of them exploding is a constantly driving effect. Also, when you complete a level you’re treated to a “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner!” type of celebratory fanfare which is reward enough itself, all other gameplay aside.
As Sir Walter Raleigh, you’ve been framed for treason and sentenced to death, but the facts just don’t add up. So what do you do? Find a bitchin’ sky ship with a beam cannon and assemble an elite team of historical bad asses to liberate yourselves and the skies.
You earn gold by participating in missions, which is then used to buy new heroes with unique ships, weapon upgrades and even peripheral gameplay modes ripe for adding a substantial amount of replay value to the game.
The waves of enemies are vicious and seemingly endless, as are the waves of projectiles that you’ll be constantly dodging. Against the insurmountable odds, you are given a “Vaunt” ability unique to your hero. These brutal attack can range from placing a ghost image of yourself (that still does damage) while controlling your main ship that now has an energy sword jutting out of the front, to being able to toss exploding barrels all about the battlefield.
Inevitably, you’ll need help. In order to progress further into the game, you must beat previous missions on progressively ascending difficulty levels, and thus the game gets insanely tough pretty early on. Luckily help is only a friend away, as long as they’re in the same room (there’s no online co-op). With a buddy blasting away with you things get considerably easier due to bullet-coverage, and with a full four-player setup the action is even more hectic.
Jamestown Plus really surprised me — I’ve grown tired of the genre, but this game was such a well presented package and offered a good variety of gameplay thanks to the awesome ships you can control. Anyone who has been jonesing for some great local co-op action in a fresh, wondrous setting need look no further than Jamestown Plus.