The original Jamestown released way back in 2011, but its updated version Jamestown+ just made it to the Nintendo Switch. Find out why it’s a good fit for the platform in our review.
The “plus” version of Jamestown was released for the PS4 earlier, but at its core it’s still very much the same game as the PC original, even now that we have a Switch version. In the game, Mars has been colonized by the British empire, but instead of a sci-fi epic the game also blends “old West” influences into it with a western-type look and feel, as it takes place in an alternate reality version of the 17th century. If anything, the setting certainly is an original one even though it requires you to suspend disbelief for a second.
There’s a storyline tied to the game’s campaign that ties into its unique setting and it’s well done for a game in the vertical shoot ’em up genre, but the gameplay itself is where the meat of the experience is. Inspired by the classic arcade shooters of the 8 and 16-bit era, the visuals in Jamestown+ are colorful with detailed sprites and huge boss fights. The main appeal, however, is that this game supports couch multiplayer for up to a four players – a rare treat in the genre and something that’s better suited to platforms like the Switch than the PC for which the game originally came out.
If you’ve played arcade shoot ’em ups before then you’ll feel right at home here. Different firing modes mean that you have two different attacks to work with, one of them often being a less powerful one with a larger spread but a more powerful one that’s useful against stronger enemies (like the game’s bosses). While playing and picking up gold, you also charge up you ship’s special ability to supercharge itself – meaning you deal more damage, get a shield and get a score multiplier.
The gold you collect can also be used to unlock additional content, which includes challenge levels, different ships and alternate game modes. Although it’s kind of a cheap way to force you to replay levels you’ve already completed, it’s great to see these incentives to keep playing for a game in a genre that is known for having limited lasting appeal. Some of the stages don’t unlock unless you play at a harder difficulty level as well, which means that you’ll need to invest a bit of practice time into the game as well – it’s not just a grind for coins. All in all, this helps to pad out a game that, on the surface, only features seven levels to play.
Luckily, in addition to the unlocks and the replay value, what also helps is that every single level feels different from the previous one – both in terms of the visual style and the enemies you face. This also applies to the boss fights you face at the end of a stage, which evoke memories of the classic arcade era where you needed to recognize and learn their patterns in order to get past them and advance to the next stage. As with the regular enemies, the bosses in Jamestown+ all feel unique and have (and require) their own attack and defense strategies.
Although Jamestown+ is largely a by the book vertical arcade shooter, its core gameplay is rock solid. What makes it stand out is the fact that it can be played with multiple players at once, which makes for the kind of couch co-op experience that the arcade era rarely offered. If you’d like to enjoy that classic experience with a few friends, then this is one of the best options out there.