As a lover of older video game systems such as the Nintendo and the Super Nintendo (sorry I’m too young for the Atari days, I admit it), I would say I enjoy retro games quite a bit. Retro games usually resemble older graphics, older music styles, and are simple, fast and fun.
That’s the case with Captain Forever. It’s got a simple premise: You’re a pilot in a ship trying not to get shot down and destroyed by other pilots in space. It’s quick to pick up with movement controls via W, A, S and D with shooting controlled by the space bar. Being that you’re in deep space with your geometric ship of a light red, you’re instructed by an info bot that you’ve suffered a massive explosion and need to regroup parts of your ship.
This reassembly process is an easy drag-and-drop procedure with what pieces are what being pretty clear via shapes and color-coding. Your ship is comprised of guns, engines/boosters and small squares that are neither of those that simply increase your ship’s total mass. Once you’re reassembled, you embark into space with the goal of destroying pirates in the area that would seek to steal yours and other ship’s parts.
So, armed with a few boosters and a laser cannon, I traveled through space in search of enemies to promptly destroy, take their parts, and become a powerful ship with lots of guns and the ability to decimate other opponents I encountered. This sort of plan worked well as I glided through the grid of space.
Unfortunately, enemies came at me more frequently with increased strength and better equipment, a definite challenge but one I welcomed. With every enemy I defeated, my ship became more powerful (and yours can, too), and I found myself dragging around boosters, weapons and pieces to increase my effectiveness.
That’s a feature that I found really cool about Captain Forever. With your ship, as I said before, you drag and drop parts to assemble your vessel then go onward to decimate foes. Though, how those pieces are assembled is completely up to you. Your craft is completely customizable. Happen to come across seven guns on one enemy and three on another? Well if you’ve got seven spots to put them, you’re ready to rock and roll. Of course, that leads to having a larger ship, and larger ships need more boosters to maneuver straight, in addition to being a larger target.
In the end, you must plan and strategize about whether you want to sacrifice firepower and size for speed and being a smaller target. This small bit of strategy coupled with fast-paced action (having to twist your ship around to a certain direction, aim and successfully attack an enemy, all without getting blown up) was a lot of fun.
Captain Forever is not an epic drama with fantastic cutscenes of CGI craziness. It’s just good old-fashioned fantastic old-school gameplay. It’s got retro graphics, it’s fast to pick up, easy to learn, and has an element of strategy as well as increased difficulty to keep you on your toes.
Oh, and the best part? It’s played completely through your Web browser! There’s no need to download anything. It’s a quick initialization of graphics and such, and away you go into the arena of space to become commanding and well-equipped.
Though, in addition to the retro graphics and playing in a browser, I’d say one of the coolest things about Captain Forever would be the feel of the menu system. You click on different things like CAPTNFOREVER.BAT and README.TXT in the game's folder. I haven’t seen .bat or anything of the like in quite awhile, and I have to say that the geek inside me was doing flips of joy and nostalgia. That little touch was something I absolutely loved.
Even if you’re not familiar with that sort of DOS-esque look, there’s an easy-to-find menu that explains controls as well as a great piece of ASCII art to show the ship. And, again, my inner geek was whooping and happy about the ASCII art. There are a lot of little touches that made me really enjoy this game — beyond the game itself. Though, the game is great.
It’s fun and sitting down and blasting away foes, getting their parts and becoming even stronger, then getting caught up in a dogfight in which you make it through with just one booster left by the skin of your teeth is invigorating. No cutscene needed, you feel your reflexes kick in and that sense of accomplishment that you, yes you, just took down a baddie and lived to fight another day.
It’s retro, it’s got a great feel, it’s easy to understand, it’s easily accessible through just a Web browser. Oh, and most definitely Captain Forever is fun. Enjoy customizing your ship, getting it tweaked just right, then unleashing your fury. Or you could simply fly through the grid. But, unleashing fury is a ton of fun. Try Captain Forever; I recommend it. Captain, I salute you and your awesome gameplay.