By: Derek Yu

On: June 18th, 2011

Jamestown, by Final Form Games

Japanese developers have refined shoot ’em ups to a point where many casual observers are fascinated by the action and speed but are too intimidated to play. “It’s like standing in the rain without getting wet” is a phrase fans came up with to describe playing the games of ZUN, and it touches on the kind of fear and awe that bullet hell shoot ’em ups can inspire. It’s not only the playing of them that’s awe-inspiring, though, but also the development – ZUN is a single individual who handles every aspect of the dozen or so games that he’s released in as many years. (In the West, you could maybe make an analogy to roguelikes, which are usually made by a small team – oftentimes an individual – and are legendary for their challenge.)

It’s under this backdrop that Jamestown was released by a small American team, Final Form Games. From the get-go, it’s obvious that FFG was careful to make a shoot ’em up that fans of the genre might appreciate, while avoiding the pitfalls that enrage (or at least bore) them. At the same time, the game is very accessible to newer or more casual players, offering five difficulty levels and a very clear tutorial that explains the game’s scoring system.

The core mechanic in Jamestown is “Vaunt”, which can be activated after you’ve collected enough gold to fill your Vaunt meter. Once activated, the meter starts ticking down and a shield is raised that destroys bullets, but only lasts for a few seconds. While the meter is depleting your ship deals 1.5 times more damage and your score is doubled; once it empties, you receive a bonus depending on how long you kept the meter going. The meter is replenished by collecting more gold.

The way to achieve a high score is by keeping your Vaunt meter going as long as possible, and the levels are designed to give you many opportunities to do this if you’re brave enough and deft enough. Vaunting again while your meter is depleting will raise another, even smaller and shorter, shield, but it ends your chain without any kind of ending bonus. There’s a nice trade-off here between using Vaunt for score and saving it for emergencies.

In terms of presentation, Jamestown looks and sounds good, but, in my opinion, it’s not really at the level of the top-tier bullet hell games that it draws inspiration from. It’s still quite an attractive game, though, and with all the options on deck (four ship types, five difficulty levels, multiple play modes, up to four-player multiplayer, etc.), Jamestown can provide a lot of entertainment for newbies and veterans alike. It’s obvious that a lot of love and care went into this impressive debut.

Released: June 16th, 2011
Price: $9.99
TIGdb: Entry for Jamestown

  • ZarathustrA

    Great game. =)

  • http://www.rgcd.co.uk James Monkman

    I'm a bit annoyed that it requires a high(ish) end pc to run.  It's a 2D shoot 'em up, ffs.  Runs at about 20fps on my admittedly underpowered 2GB, 2.1Ghz ATI Radeon 3800HD.  I'm used to not being able to play new 3D games, but this?!

  • ZarathustrA

    Really? My main PC died so I'm on my secondary computer I built as a mid-range PC about 6 years ago — It's not so mid-range anymore. The game is working fine and fast. I've actually not seen it stutter at all in the most bullet-filled levels in the game.

    3.0GHZ P4, 1GB DDR, 6800 GT.

    I would message the developers with the problems you're having and your full PC stats. It sounds more like an optimization problem or a bug.

  • Theon

    That is strange. My shitty laptop (school PC) with an integrated video card runs this quite decently.
    Also, this game is marvellous, though a tad short.

  • http://www.rgcd.co.uk James Monkman

    Well, I think it's a case of 'my bad' really.  Sys specs:

    Processor: Intel® Pentium™ 4 2.4 GHz or betterMemory: 512 MB RAMHard Disk Space: 250 MBVideo Card: Any OpenGL 2.0 graphics card with 256MB+ video RAM

    My PC runs at 2.1Ghz :(  Still, I see no reason why a shoot 'em up like this warrants such high specs – but anyway, I don't mean to troll.  I guess it's time to finally buy a new computer :/

  • http://www.rgcd.co.uk James Monkman

    (Well that is embarrassing – just loaded it up again and it updated via steam… now it runs at full speed!)

  • ZarathustrA

    Great! =)

  • http://twitter.com/JasperByrne jasper byrne

    Looks like a lot of fun this.  Craft are fairly generic, but the backgrounds look nice.

  • Ghidorah

    Philly represent! Final Form goes one more step in putting Philly on the map!

  • Non

    It´s a nice game, but not having online multiplayer is a shame.

  • Phubans

    Clearly this is a Dark Void Zero ripoff. I present for evidence the fact that this game is low resolution and lets you shoot bullets.

    Derek, post my game or I'll start to killing the hostages.

  • Phubans

    Gotta love how secure the commenting is. Just drop someone's email in and you're them!

  • Guewt

    It's ok since frontpage comments are not supposed to be taken srsly, at least by anyone with a brain.
    This has been established since 1/12/2007.

  • Arne Döring

    looks very much like giga wing

  • Taco

    Backpedaling again, are we?

  • Man Without Hat

    I dare say it's more enjoyable than most of the Touhou games.

  • rinkuhero

    i'm not sure what you're talking about — it asks me for a password to post as rinkuhero on disqus, just my email isn't enough.

  • Guest

    How did you get rinkuhero's password then? ;]

    I'll stick to eternal guest status for now. Just want my comments to be heard/replied to, don't need any recognition/community.

  • Paul

    Haha amazing

  • Honest Guy

    This is weird, my i7 computer with 543809564809743643806347086547809654789624738967598675689547689565979161742564095180945 videocards running together can't handle this 2d game, I'm getting 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000023 frames per millenium! something doesn't add up!

  • Paul

    gay gay gaay

  • Sigvatr

    The entire purpose of this game is to show off some pixel art. Everything else is secondary.

  • Stephen Tanner

    Yes – and plays a little like it too.  I love giga wing, and I love Jamestown.  Which do I love more?  Hmm…don't make me choose…

  • Gueston

    f*ck off, imbecile!

  • http://twitter.com/tali3sin Paul Cotton

    The entire purpose of this game is 17th Century British Colonial Mars. Everything else is secondary.

    Also, having poured several hours into it now and as a fan of bullet-hell shmups, it’s awesome. Just awesome.