Local multiplayer games are making a comeback yet few are as fun and original as Capsule Force. The tug-of-war mechanics and fast paced gameplay definitely make for some exciting matches so let's blast off with the review already.
Capsule Force tells a story of competing galaxies where warriors battle over capsules that have the ability to swallow up entire solar systems. When you first boot it up, you'll wonder if you just turned on your original PlayStation because it does an awesome job of taking you back to the late '90s. The cheesy anime artwork, nonsensical story, flashy title screen, neon colour schemes, and goofy music all add up to a whimsical interpretation of what made the 32-bit era such a memorable time in video game history. This indelible moment in gaming was all about having a good time and thankfully Capsule Force provides the means to do so.
The ability to battle with up to four players at once is nothing new. However, Capsule Force stands out with rules that keep each match exciting from start to finish. Basically, there are a couple of sliding platforms on the screen at any given time. Once a player steps on one, it slides in the direction of their goal. After making it past all of the screens to the final one, that player will win if they manage to snatch the capsule and capture the galaxy before their opponents stop them. This tug-of-war mechanic is similar to the one utilized in Nidhogg, but I find Capsule Force's implementation to be much more satisfying. Playing with two players is actually very enjoyable whereas most four player games simply aren't that fun with just two people. If you manage to get four players together then they'll be split up into two teams which makes the gameplay substantially more frenzied. Overall, this is a prime example of how to make multiplayer fun.
Capsule Force is generally played by running, jumping, and shooting in any direction. More complex controls are in play as well that will surely give you the upper hand if you use them effectively. Such manoeuvres include charging your shot to release a powerful beam, quickly deploying a shield to deflect projectiles back at your opponents, dashing in mid-air, and launching yourself using your weapon. Being able to string together acrobatic moves while taking out the competition to advance screen after screen will make you feel like an intergalactic superstar, but it requires a ton of practice to pull off such awesomeness. A downside to this is that more experienced players definitely have an advantage which results in the challenge being quite uneven if amateurs are invited to play. If there was a more simplified and intuitive control scheme then this wouldn't be a problem. In other words, although the gameplay is rewarding and tight, it's also convoluted enough to alienate those who show up late to the party.
Between parties, you can enjoy Capsule Force by your lonesome with a series of challenges. There is one for each of the eight areas with four different types to choose from, so that makes 32 total. Playing through them and trying to outdo your previous efforts is great fun and feels very welcome for a game that's multiplayer-focused since most titles in the genre offer little to no single player content. You can even attempt all 32 challenges in a row if you're ever up for it. Besides this, there are no online features at all so don't expect to invite your virtual pals or climb any leaderboards. The local multiplayer modes are quite limited as well since you can only either play exhibition matches or tournaments for up to 32 players. If there were more variations such as death matches, capture the flag, or some mini-games then it would add a great deal of replay value. Instead, every match is basically the same thing.
Capsule Force is one of the best choices when it comes to thrilling local multiplayer games. With awesome gameplay and exhilarating matches all wrapped in a retro theme, you're sure to love every second you spend attempting to capture galaxy after galaxy.
- + Intense tug-of-war matches complete with tight gameplay for up to four players
- + Satisfying single player challenges
- + Awesome retro 32-bit presentation
- - Learning how to effectively use all of the controls requires too much practice
- - Multiplayer modes aren't varied enough
- - No online features at all