After decades of shoot 'em ups, it's difficult to create one that stands out in the modern age. Although Jamestown+ is a worthy contender, does it top the true classics from the '80s and '90s or are you better off living in the past?
The first aspect that'll grab your attention is the incredible music. Right when you turn on the game, your ears are treated to a wonderfully inspiring orchestral piece that entices you to start playing immediately. After you jump in, you'll be blown away by the detailed 2D artwork on display. It harkens back to classic shoot 'em ups such as Gunbird and Giga Wing but with more intricate flair. For any fan of retro shooters, this will definitely not fail to impress. However, one part of the presentation that is severely lacking is the sound effects. It is satisfying hearing enemies explode, but it's a bit too loud. You can turn down the effects, but considering how almost inaudibly quiet your weapons are, you probably wouldn't be able to hear them if you did. If there was more of a balance between the explosions and weapon sounds then there'd be no problem. In the end, the effects don't matter much since the music and visuals are more than enough to keep you hooked.
Jamestown+ is played exactly as you would expect with a couple of twists. Obviously, you fly around and shoot, but you also have a special weapon and an ability to Vaunt. When you get skilled enough, you can use the special weapons (which are simply secondary weapons) to take advantage of otherwise hard to destroy enemies. Where it gets interesting is unleashing your Vaunt. As you play, you collect gears and nuts that fill a meter and when it's full, you can press a button to Vaunt which creates a temporary field around you that absorbs bullets and makes you significantly stronger. Ideally, you'd want to stay in this state as long as you can by acquiring more gears and nuts in order to obtain a massive score bonus by the time the meter fully depletes. With satisfying mechanics like this and precise controls, shoot 'em up fans will certainly see something special in Jamestown+'s gameplay.
The most rewarding part of the experience is the wealth of content. Working through the main seven level campaign is tough enough on its own, but being able to master it on five difficulty settings and unlock everything is an enormous challenge. To help you along the way, you can pilot a variety of eight ships with four optional downloadable ones. Experimenting with them and finding your favourite is an enjoyable adventure. You also gather money as you play that is used to purchase anything from new modes to optional weapons. Once you find a ship and weapon combination that you click with, taking out the colossal bosses will be a piece of cake.
If you don't want to face the challenges by yourself then you can get up to three friends to join you in local co-op. This is a great way to take some of the difficulty away, but first ensure that your friends' skills are up to snuff. If they aren't then they can always watch the brief and informative tutorial. Extras include a gauntlet mode that allows you to take on multiple levels in a row, and a challenge mode consisting of 20 unique missions that require abilities such as surviving or flying through rings. If that's not enough, you can also climb various leaderboards to see how you rank against other pilots. All of that being said; most of the game still merely consists of seven levels. It certainly isn't a deal-breaker, but after playing through a few times, the novelty of them may wear off.
Jamestown+ is a masterful reinterpretation of classic shoot 'em ups with plenty of modern appeal. Although you probably won't play for countless hours, you're sure to enjoy every minute you spend weaving past bullets and blasting through hordes of enemy invaders.
- + Top-notch 2D graphics and incredible orchestral soundtrack
- + Satisfying mechanics with tight controls
- + Tons of variety in almost every sense
- - Sound effects are either too loud or quiet
- - Only contains seven levels