The ships that you unlock using the coins that are awarded at the end of each level feel like they were designed to work together as a team rather than alone. The Gunner ship can rotate its arc of fire in 360 degrees to help cover all angles of attack, which helps provide the Charge ship the time needed to build up its attack so it can unleash a massive amount of damage. It’s not just the ships’ abilities that compliment one another and introduce an element of strategy to the game; the Vaunt ability provides its own co-op angle.
Planning with your friends who uses his or her Vaunt to help absorb the slew of hostile projectiles, and when, makes for all the difference in surviving the game on the harder difficulties, which Jamestown eases you into rather than heaps on suddenly and without warning. Should a friend’s ship go down, though, all is not lost. As long as one player is still alive, others will revive after a few seconds and re-enter the fray, or you may chance upon a Revive All power up that brings all players back to life instantly.
Much of that planning is made easier by the fact that co-op play is local only, so you and your friends won’t have any disconnection issues or bad microphones to worry about. Local play is limited, though, to just two players if you only have a keyboard and mouse, and three if you only have one 360 controller. While this may solve the issue of “where is player progress saved” (everyone can access anything that’s been unlocked), it also introduces Jamestown’s biggest tripping point when it comes to the co-op experience: the inability to fully experience it.
Without an option for online or even system link/LAN play, playing with the full compliment of four players means having to buy additional accessories. Players may even find themselves buying an additional 360 controller to use instead of the mouse as, out of all the control options, it is the least responsive and feels intentionally “floaty,” though this is likely intentional to prevent players who are using it from zipping all over the screen.
Ideally, Jamestown will see a patch at some point that adds in online and/or system link play. Even if it doesn’t, though, it is absolutely worth it. To put that statement into some perspective, I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of ‘shmups. I’ve dabbled in them, found one or two that I really enjoy, but on the whole, the genre isn’t one for which I get really excited. This review was nearly delayed by the fact that I was up late playing one of Jamestown’s challenge levels telling myself “I’ve almost got it, I can do this!” You see, unlike other games in this genre that almost seem sadistically geared towards punishing the player at every turn, Jamestown is almost the complete opposite. It encourages you; rewards you; makes you feel that yes, you can in fact overcome that challenge/level/boss. One game has done what no other ‘shmup title has managed to achieve – made me a fan of the genre – and accomplished that for which so many retro titles strive.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with up to four players who can choose various ships to power up.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.