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 Post subject: Task Force Kampas (XB1 - PS4 - PS Vita - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2020 7:27 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 334
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Another "I promise I'll be a good game" lurking around the XBOX corner.

*Plays the game and after 30 minutes of getting everything and 10 of checking the unlockables...*

Best way to describe what I'm about to review.

Like Natsuki Sugiura said on the stage 4 briefing in Natsuki Chronicles, there goes Eastasiasoft again betting on releasing trash to make quick profits.
Today's review is another one of those trash shooters to disgrace your console and PC collections: Task Force Kampas by Casiopea Wave, a small developer group from Zaragoza, Spain.

Her name is Green, lives in green and she's seeing green.

MIDORI: Piloted by Green, a girl with a wizard robe which like her name says, it's green colored. Her main ability is the Extra Shot, allowing her to start with a simple 3-Way shoot instead of the 2-way like the rest.

Only God knows how "Psycho" this baby is.

PASTEL: Piloted by Psychobaby, who is a baby with pilot skills like Bobby/Arthur from Aero Fighters 2. Her special ability is the Super Shot. Allowing her to start with more powerful shots.

A wizard, a baby, now a grandma in uniform, feels like a comedy movie and "Not Another Family Game" should be its name.

FEDERATION: Piloted by La Yaya. An old woman with an uniform and a scarf. Her special ability is to start off with more HP than the rest of the ships.

Tai Kamiya didn't told us that Agumon was a space pilot.

COCOSHIP: Piloted by Cocoking, a yellow T-Rex-like dinosaur that looks like Agumon from Digimon. It is the first unlockable ship of the game and to unlock the ship you need to rescue more than 20 Cocos in a row during your gameplay. It's main ability is "No Shoots". His ship doesn't fire, instead it has "Anchored" Cocos that shoot pretty much like the Options from Gradius. With the Cocos firing for you, you might think you'll have an advantage. Unfortunately, the Cocos firing range is short, forcing you to move closer to the enemies and getting exposed to a hit, and worse. It takes more time to recover from a hit.

The Mask III: When the office secretary uses Stanley Ipkiss's mask.

SNEAKING: Piloted by Unknown, a green skinned woman. This is the second unlockable of the game. You need to defeat the first boss to unlock this character. Her main ability is the Side Shots, which adds diagonal shots on both sides of the ship.

When the enemy says "Eye-fight you", you're not gonna turn a blind eye on them.

The gameplay is what we can call today as a "Textbook Shooter" as its gameplay mechanics remain simple, while it features a bullet hell that can be considered basic. To begin with, your ship slowly powers up after taking down a few enemies and there's no bomb to clear the screen when there's too much things on screen, and the game will use this against you as it will quickly pelt the screen with enemies and bullet patterns with medium sized bullets that makes you wish the game "screen" was wider and that's another point that the game exploits on its advantage, specially when the game is played in Hard, Extreme and Ultra Extreme difficulties. Although you don't have a bomb, you can regain health if you get hit, to do that you only have to stop shooting and then wait until the lifebar refills and turns off the "DANGER" condition, because if the lifebar is in danger (below 50%) and you take a hit your ship will go down. Any oldschooler will compare this with the "Danger-Extinct" lifebar from the SNES port of U.N. Squadron/Area 88, but in that game you were able to shoot and recover at the same time.

This game was dedicated to the letters "H" and "D".

After completing one of the stage halves and before fighting a boss you'll be granted the option of picking one letter. "S" is Supershot, which enlarges the size of the bullets fired and makes them stronger. "D" is for Double Shot, which adds another bullet to your stream (5 way becomes 6 way), and finally "H" which is the Health item that replenish your energy if you are not fully recovered. My strategy for this is to pick D and S since you can refill your ship's health by yourself.

An absurd issue with this game is being unable to pause the game during a boss fight. Yeah, the game pulls the crap shot of disabling the pause button during boss fights, so if you had the "Pause-Unpause-Move-Pause-Unpause-Move" trick in mind like you did in Natsuki Chronicles, then forget it. Other problem with this game is that the ship's power decreases after getting hit, while in the Strikers 1945 series you only powered down when you lose a life, or crashed with an enemy (without being killed), you still had a chance to recover, while in this game, you have to survive with the power loss until you pick a letter again.

GAME OVER: Try to Next Chance.

You know what's the worst part of this game?, You only have one life. One single life and that's it. There's no continues if you get shot down, and having an energy bar doesn't help too much since you can go down with two or three hits, and to recover you have to stop shooting, making you a sitting duck or enter in "Frightened Hamster Mode" as you focus on dodge bullets until your life bar is full again.
Also, when you input your name, it only has the alphabet, not other digits or numbers to put your initials, also you're limited to three digits like the basic arcade games.

CONGLATURATION! You've completed a great game. And prooved the justice of our culture. Now go rest our heroes!
Another addition to the "A WINNER IS YOU!" category. Nothing short of poetry.

After defeating the Marine Mantis you'll get these screens as the ending. Also, you will only get this ending once, ONE SINGLE TIME for the rest of your game sessions, 'cos once you've defeat Marine Mantis again, the game will loop in a harder difficulty.
You've missed it?, Too ba...oh, nevermind, the ending sucks as you can see on the screenshot. Three stages, one lame ending, yeah, well, you might want those 10 minutes of your life back.

Remember Shienryu on the PlayStation?, this is like the "FuruiRyu" mode.

There's unlockables in the game which are more troublesome than useful like the additional difficulties and filters, but you have to complete certain conditions.

HARD: Complete the game in Normal
EXTREME: Complete the game in Hard
ULTRA EXTREME: Complete the game in Extreme

Filters are alternate screen colors and effects. While the "DEFAULT" is the arcade-like scanlines and "NONE" removes them, there is unlockable filters that add different effects.
Plays the game in an IBM-like monochrome Green and Black. To unlock it, you've must complete the game with the Midori ship.
FAT TV SCREEN: This filter distorts the screen like an old Trinitron TV of the 80's. You'll have to finish the game with Pastel (the ship, not the Twinbee character, although I'd rather play with her than this).
THE GOOD OLD DAYS: Monochrome brown sepia, just like the "FuruiRyu" mode of Warashi's Shienryu (Ancient Mode in Gekioh: Shooting King). It requires to beat the game once with the Federation ship.
COCOVISION: Monochrome Yellow and Black, an unusual combination if you ask me. To unlock this one you've got to unlock the Cocoship first and complete the game with it.
GREYSCALE: The basic Black and White monochrome, there's no need to explain about it. Like the "Cocovision", you've got to unlock the Sneaking ship first and then finish the game with the mentioned ship.

When it comes to achievements and the easiness to get them I can only say "LACK OF EFFORT": Get killed 5 times, pick 60 Cocos (accumulative), survive 4 minutes, destroy 100 meteors, kill 1,000 enemies, get a 250,000 point high score, and kill 3 bosses, and to add cheapness to the boss one, this achievement is accumulative so you can kill the first boss 3 different times. In total, 21 extremely easy achievements. I mean, even games like ACA Neogeo Blazing Star, Natsuki Chronicles, Triggerheart Exelica and Super Hydorah were lessons to learn about how to make the achievement unlocking time consuming, mastering ships and weapons, making progression challenging but on top of all, fair in difficulty. Even a non-shmup like Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 taught me that, except for its final achievement "Adventure 4" which can go to hell.

This creature came from the 70's.

Time to talk about the graphics. The ship design is a total lack of creativity. First off, the game designers reused the same ship design and just recolored it 4 times, also, its design is what can be called "Mediocre", they look like a chemical vase from highschool's chemistry class. The enemies range from generic to cartoon influenced as the popcorn enemies are asteroids and eyeballs (┬┐Is this Project Starship or what?) along with crystal eyes and spheres with multiple cannons. As a homebrew shooter, the overall graphics feel between "Home-made" and a demo of a doujin studio, as they have things with the potential of being detailed further like the space scenery, while the planets are nicely drawn and have good lighting effects, they had the potential of looking even more detailed, specially the "atmosphere" within them. Speaking of space, it makes me wish the game was based on any of those planets, because like in Super Star Blast's case, being space, space, space, space, space simply becomes boring. The coolest visual effects of the game can be found on the boss battle with Marine Mantis as it fires this multicolored crossing laser fire that looks like a delirating 70's disco visual effect. I'm not trying to demerit Casiopea Wave, I know where they're trying to go as they have some good ideas, but this feels like a free Game Maker demo or a early Dezaemon project rather than a full commercial game. Speaking of effects, while we can notice that a boss like "The Squid" blinks as it gets hit by our shots, the other two like the golden crab and Marine Manties lack of that blinking, which can make us believe we're not inflicting damages. It's the same problem as with NMK's Thunder Dragon.

One last thing to notice is that the game lacks of "Wallpapers" to decorate the empty sides of the screen. Even a retro game like Zeroptian Invasion covered that with their own artwork that despite not being retro-esque, it fulfilled its purpose to bring some visual appeal to the game, while Task Force Kampas didn't cared about that, making the game less appealing and empty.

The character design looks good in the promotional artwork, since it blends american animation and anime in the style of the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe remake or even like Fox Kids' NASCAR Racers, this is mostly noted in Green and Unknown. But in the game, they look like a step back in drawing style since they look like something out of a 90's cartoon like Tom & Jerry: The Movie, this is mostly obvious in Psychobaby and La Yaya. Also, the secret character Cocoking is nothing more than a ripoff of Agumon from Digimon. This cast borrows an element of japanese retro games, the "Weird pilot cast" like Aero Fighters and Tecmo's Eight Forces where we had idols, robots, vikings and other unusual characters instead of the typical space pilots.

In the sound department, the music aims to an 80's style percussion just like Vostok Inc. did, but with more synthwave beats that sounds like the ambient score of an episode of Magnum P.I. or Miami Vice. During the boss battles, the game pulls a trance rhythm in the first two bosses. The pause menu has a calm down ambient beat and the title screen is a strange hum-buzz that reminds me more of the Entry Plug ambient sound from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
There's some silly voices for the Cocos (yellow T-Rexes) and for some strange reason, all the characters have the same "AGH!" male voice sample when they die, even the female characters.

- Midori is the Japanese word for "green", it is also a word expressing images of abundant nature or freshness.
- Yaya is a term used in Spain to refer a Grandma.

Trash like Task Force Kampas is the reason why we need Ginga Force on XBOX One, or at least Microsoft to reconsider and resume the Backwards Compatibility on the console 'cos I'd rather play Otomedius Excellent or RayStorm HD than this. I'm getting sick and tired of these trash shooters that promise us unforgettable and addicting shooting experiences and they turn out to be low quality Gamerscore Milkers waiting for your hard earned money. I can only recommend this game for people who might be really desperate for a quick 1,000 Gamerscore points and wishing to say "Yay! I've got all the achievements of this game!". Otherwise, stay away of Task Force Kampas, you'll thank me for that in the future.

TO EASTASIASOFT: Please, stop distributing trash if you want to redeem yourselves as publishers. Think of LJN as a mistake from the past.
TO CASIOPEA WAVE: Don't let my review discourage you, I know you have the potential of being a great developer, you only need more practice and correct some of the issues that I've mentioned on the review. Also, I saw in the credits that Locomalito was involved, so you can ask him how to make a good japan-inspired arcade game, just take a look at his game Super Hydorah and how it nods Konami, IREM and Taito's works.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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