Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony is a vertically scrolling arcade style schmup (shoot 'em up) by indie developer Final Form Games. The game is set on 17th century British Colonial Mars, and tells the tale of the Roanoke Colony and the battle against the Spanish and Martians. As crazy as the story may sound there is actually an even more farcical version which is unlocked after completing the game and sees characters such a Sir Walter Raleigh renamed Wally.
The gameplay is similar to old arcade schmups, except unlike the old coin gobblers when you die in this game it is always your fault. This is achieved in two ways, first your hit box is very small, although the ship might look large only the pilot being hit will result in you loosing a life and second is the Vaunt ability. The Vaunt meter is filled by collecting golden nuts and gears from defeated enemies, and once full activating Vaunt Mode creates a temporary shield around you and triggers double damage/points until the meter is depleted. A second smaller shield can be activated by pressing the Vaunt button a second time but doing so immediately empties the Vaunt meter and it won't start to fill again for a while. The game can be played with either the keyboard, mouse, or gamepad and has multiplayer support for up to four players, with four different ships to choose from each with their own primary and secondary fire (although I don't find the fourth ship very useful).
The graphics in Jamestown fit the classic arcade fell with a '16-bit' look and are clear enough that you should always know what killed you and why. While the main game can be finished in a single sitting, and there is a Gauntlet mode that lets you try to do so with only two continues, there is a lot of replay value to be had; the multiple difficulties, challenge levels (the first four of which are shown in the video above) and crazy hard achievements like 'Complete the Gauntlet on Judgement difficulty without being hit or continuing' will keep you playing for many, many hours.
Playing Jamestown reminds me of the arcade style games released by Treasure, where despite what initially seems to be crazy bullet hell, once you get a hang of the controls the game is actually very fair, hard but fair. Jamestown is available on Steam, Direct to Drive, and Gamersgate for US$9.95.
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