Task Force Kampas is a simple game with a simlpe soul. If you went into the eshop and found this game to give you a certain feeling of deja vu, you are not alone. It shares the premise of 2 games which came before: Project Starship and Red Death. The idea is simple, create a super bite-sized shmup that is highly replayable.
While the idea of a shmup that doesn’t end is enticing, it ends up feeling too bare bones.
Developer: eastasiasoft, Casiopea Wave
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: May 07, 2020
Task Force Kampas is a 2D vertical side-scrolling shmup that never ends. You can choose to play as one of 5 different pilots, each with its own strengths and weaknesses as you traverse the action packed stages.
Classic gameplay refined
It’s hard to describe Task Force Kampas without repeating what I’ve said for a lot of vertical shmups on the ranking list. In terms of gameplay, Task Force Kampas is as basic as it gets. It follows the tried and true formula of shooting enemies while avoiding being shot down.
One of the most clever systems is power-shield balance. Rather than being your typical 1 hit KO shmup, in Task Force Kampas you have a life gauge. Your life replenishes on its own if you stop shooting. For power-ups, you also have another gauge that fills up as you kill enemies. What’s interesting is the mini-game that balances whether you want to shoot enemies to become stronger, or hold your fire and recover your life.
When you put that into the “meta” of shmup games, it adds a touch of strategy. A very important aspect of shmups is managing the screen. Staying alive is as much taking out tough enemies as it is dodging bullets. There are occasions when the your life is full and the clear choice is to power-up your shots. However, if you are in critical status, then it becomes more interesting. Do you want to risk enemies swarming the screen for healing, or will you brave it out?
The replay value
Longevity in Task Force Kampas is achieved through loops. Second loops were pretty popular in arcade games, as they offered significantly harder challenges. The difference is that the loops in Task Force Kampas are endless. You could think of it as a survival game, because it really is about going through as many loops as possible to get the highest score.
To add variety, there’s a total of 5 playable characters and several difficulty modes. Each character has its own benefits such as increased power or increased life. There’s also a pacifist character that relies on its options to do the damage. Unfortunately, once you choose a pilot you are locked to it for the entirety of your playthrough. It might sound obvious, but with different loops it might have been possible to be able to swap mid-run.
The loops also come to pick up the slack left by the small amounts of content. There’s a total of 3 stages, which is pretty short for shmup standards. A complete playthrough of a loop takes between 7 and 10 minutes.
Same old dance
Despite promising “endless” experiences, it falls flat after a couple of stages. The worst offenders are the stages themselves. In terms of design, I found all of them to be monotonous. There’s no fun design or clever enemy placement to keep you on your toes. It’s all about throwing the same enemies over and over and hoping they get you. After a couple of loops, it all just meshes together and I found myself constantly spacing out. Every stage boiled down to just moving sideways and shooting everything in sight.
To elaborate a little more on the previous point, I found the tactical aspect to be missing entirely. Sure, all shmups are about moving and shooting. However, they usually have smaller doses of decision making when removing threats quickly or dynamic patterns to keep you on the move. The closest Task Force Kampas comes to being dynamic is with the missiles. The missiles spawn on the edge of the screen and move in diagonal to hit you. They track your position.
I do think it’s ridiculous that the missiles have a huge blast radius that goes off even when you destroy them. I had to record several death moments to find out what killed me when I wasn’t really hit by anything. It turns out the missiles explode on death, so their blast can get you even if you weren’t in the danger zone before.
Top notch presentation
If there’s something I really enjoyed about this game is it’s presentation. The sprites and animations are extremely well done. Everything that is related to the visual aspect is certainly top of the class when it comes to visuals. I found the art style extremely pleasing as well.
The soundtrack is also really good. I always put some special attention to the boss fights because their tracks were amazing. The final boss, in particular, had what I would call my single favorite track in the game.
Actually, everything about the final boss is amazing.
Way too much
For retro fans out there, Task Force Kampas also features “retro” filters to play with. You can apply retro effects such as green-tint to the game. The downside is that this effects can only be applied from the main menu, so you might be stuck with an undesirable effect if you started a new run and found out the effect didn’t entice you. Unfortunately, the effects are something that could use some polish. I found some effects to work adversely by making bullets blend in with the background, and the first boss doesn’t seem to be filtered.
The other “cool idea in theory, bad in practice” is the screen shake. The screen shakes on kills and hits. It is a cool effect, but I’ve always found it to be a nuisance in shmups. The shakes are way too distracting and in games where precision matters, it comes up as an annoyance.
There isn’t much else to say about Task Force Kampas. It is a completely average game with some cool ideas but very dull gameplay. It didn’t manage to evoke strong feelings from me, and it didn’t feel like I was having fun when palying. I wasn’t bored either, but for the most part I was just going through the motions.
One thing it has going for it is the low price. Unfortunately, there is a good deal of competition on low price shmups where you can find old classics such as Blazing Star or the Psikyo games for a similar price point.
THE RANKING SO FAR:
- Psyvariar Delta
- Rolling Gunner
- Blazing Star
- Steredenn: Binary Stars
- Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax
- Sky Force: Reloaded
- Strikers 1945
- Black Paradox
- R-Type Dimensions EX
- Sine Mora EX
- Shikhondo – Soul Eater
- Ghost Blade HD
- AngerForce: Reloaded
- Aero Fighters 2 (ACA Neogeo)
- Lightening Force: Quest for the darkstar (Sega Ages)
- Red Death
- Task Force Kampas
- Switch ‘N’ Shoot
- Last Resort (ACA Neogeo)