Jamestown+

Game review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
Jamestown+ Game Poster Image
Fun old-school arcade shooter with odd design issues.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Fighting for survival overshadowed by constant destruction, blasting of enemies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though you're shooting a lot of ships, creatures, aliens, it's done somewhat for the greater good, some self-serving reasons.

Ease of Play

Simple shooter controls, but spikes in difficulty require skilled play.

Violence

Though all you do is shoot aliens, creatures, enemy ships, game has a cartoony look, aerial perspective, which limits impact of damage.

Sex
Language

In story, a prison is described as "hellish."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jamestown+, an updated version of 2011's Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony, is a downloadable top-down, arcade-style third-person shooter. In it, you shoot an endless stream of bullets as you face down an armada of enemies who are just as trigger-happy. Recalling such classic vertical shooters as 1982's Xevious and 1984's 1942, this old-school arcade game lets you move all around the screen but always has you shooting upward as the ground scrolls down. It even has a pixelated, mid-'80s-arcade visual style, which perfectly matches its classic-style gameplay. As a result, it's a rather benign shooter. Parents also should be aware that though this game supports up to four-player co-op, you can only play with someone if she's sitting next to you on the couch.

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What's it about?

In JAMESTOWN+, you play as Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618), the British writer, soldier, explorer, and politician. But unlike in real life, Sir Walter escapes England before his execution and makes his way to Mars (yes, as in the red planet we still haven’t visited in real life). There, he sets out to find Roanoke, a colony of 117 souls that went missing without a trace, in hopes that by doing so he might be given amnesty for his crimes. Which might explain why -- as you fly overhead, shooting anything that moves -- you'll see Revolutionary War-looking soldiers running around, as well as large wooden ships such as in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. But, though this alternate-history story may seem silly, Jamestown+ takes its arcade-y shooting very seriously.

Is it any good?

An expanded and remastered version of 2011's Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony, Jamestown+ is an '80s-style, top-down, arcade-y shooter that will remind older gamers of 1942, Xevious, and even a little of Galaga. Besides boasting pixelated, old-school-style graphics and gameplay, you can gather gold bolts and gears to charge up a limited-time attack weapon, adding to your attack strategy. Plus, when you die (and you will), the continue system lets you pick up where you left off -- if you have any credits left, just like you could when you played these kinds of games at the arcade. It's even as unforgiving as a game that's designed to separate kids from their allowances. As for the "+" part, this version adds new ships, two new levels, spruced-up backgrounds, an all-new menu, as well as music and sound effects that have been remastered and are now available in 5.1 surround sound.

But though Jamestown+ may sound like a fun trip down memory lane, it has some issues. Most notably, the initial action stops after the first three levels if you're playing on "Normal." Unless you raise the challenge to "Difficult" or harder, you can't experience the rest of the game, which hardly seems fair. It also has some odd modern twists that don't really fit this kind of game. Once you've beaten a level, for instance, you can always start off from that point, not from the beginning like you'd have to if your PS4 took quarters. This also has a lush orchestral score that sounds more like something you'd hear in a new game but is rather incongruous here. Jamestown+ is fun, but its odd design decisions keep it from being a great shooter.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Do you feel differently fighting aliens and creatures as opposed to humans? If so, why do you feel this way? Should you feel differently?

  • Discuss cooperation. Since the game can be played cooperatively with friends, why is it important to be open to the idea of working with other people toward a common goal? What's the best way to communicate with other people so you can accomplish those goals?

  • Talk about history. What do you know about Jamestown, Virginia, which was the first permanent British settlement in the U.S.? What would it have been like to live there?

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