Daily Independent: In Which You Blast Betentacled Martians in Bullet Hell Shooter Jamestown

The Daily Independent is a recurring feature in which we shine a light into the darkened wilderness of indie gaming, illuminating both the good and the bad of what we find there.

I love this. Everything about this, I love.

I’m not really much one for bullet hell shooters, shoot ‘em ups, shmups, whatever you want to call them. I find I suck at them, usually. Good thing that Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony, from developer Final Form Games, is awesome in many more ways than just its shmup gameplay — which is also pretty great.

But I’m just captivated by its alternate history totally nonsensical storyline, in which you play Raleigh, an Englishman fleeing execution by King James in 1619, at the height of war between England and Spain. He flees to the New World, where he hopes to clear his name and endear himself to his king through an act of bravery. That act is finding out what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke, which has disappeared along with everyone who lived there.

Oh, and the New World is Mars, and Spanish is allied with Martians, and you fly around on a damn Flash Gordon sled blasting billions of the bententacled monstrosities, all in beautiful 8-bit splendor.

The gameplay’s a good time, especially when you snag some spare mouses and keyboards or gamepads and bring in up to three(!) friends for local cooperative play, adding to the intensity of the shmup formula. Blasting away at Martians and Conquistadors earns you gold that can be spent in the game’s shop, unlocking new ships and the like, and the game is actually (thankfully) somewhat forgiving about what kind of hit kills you and what doesn’t. It’s easy enough for a rube like me to play, but with four additional harder difficulties to bring some real challenge.

Probably Jamestown’s greatest feature (apart from seeing 8-bit British redcoats manning flying ships under aerial attack by Spain-allied Martians) is the game’s phenomenal, epic soundtrack. You can get a taste of it in the trailer posted below, but it really elevates the whole experience from fun and crazy to epic. Massive boss fights really help in that department, as well.

The steampunk feel, the old-school gameplay, the beautiful pixel artwork — I’m loving all of it. Jamestown runs $10 on Steam, and especially if you’ve got three friends handy (it’s really too bad there’s not online co-op), you should really get your ass to Mars.

Check out the Jamestown site, where you can buy the game.

And here’s that trailer I mentioned.

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