Releasing yet another retro-inspired game, EastAsiaSoft has brought us Task Force Kampas from developer Casiopea Wave. It’s out now for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, but EastAsiaSoft is also still supporting the PlayStation Vita – giving Vita owners a stab at a brand new title again. For us, that’s the version we wanted to test, and which this review is based on.
A classic vertical arcade shooters of the Japanese variety, Task Force Kampas doesn’t waste much time on a storyline. You’ll get an overview of the rules, the controls, and after your ship selection (a choice between more firepower, more hit points or different firing modes) it’s off to fight hordes of aliens.
Steering clear of damage while blasting enemies means you automatically upgrade your weapons – often resulting in a wider spread to make it easier to gun down the enemies streaming in from the top. Run into an enemy or bullet, and you won’t just incur damage – you’ll also lose your current weapon upgrades. You can recover health, but not in the traditional way of picking up a health upgrade – instead, you need to lay off the fire button for a bit in order to charge up your self-healing capabilities. This is a fun dynamic, because it means you’re trading health for an open window for enemies to stream onto the screen.
While most of the levels are randomized in terms of the enemy attack patterns (and the little hippo-like creatures that are floating in space that you can rescue), boss fights are more orchestrated, and require you to weave in between bullets, learn their patterns and recharge your health when you inevitably get hit, making for tense encounters because a second hit in quick succession is usually fatal, ending your run.
Task Force Kampas features relatively simple retro style visuals, but when there’s a lot happening on screen the Vita seems to suffer in terms of the framerate, which noticeably slows down. The soundtrack deserved a special mention though, because the developers didn’t go for the standard chiptune-like tracks and instead opted for something more akin to an 80s synthpop sound, complete with vocals. For a short while there, it’s like playing a shooter inside a 1980s arcade where the speakers are playing some of the music of that time.
The game is a budget release, so don’t expect it to last a long time. I completed the game on my third attempt, which took about 13 minutes. At that point the only trophy I was missing was to “die five times”, so this is a certainly an attractive title for trophy hunters. There’s more content past the platinum though, because beating the game quicker (which is mostly down to how quickly you beat the three bosses) lets you keep going, and there are additional difficulty modes (to unlock) as well. For a quick retro arcade shooter this is a nice diversion for the right price, but don’t expect anything earth-shattering.