Publisher eastasiasoft has successfully managed to carve a niche on the digital storefronts, releasing arcade-style pixel art shooter at impulse price points. Task Force Kampas is their latest, being a vertical shooter with a choice of offbeat characters, each with a perk. In the absence of anything resembling a plot, we’re left to assume they’re the titular task force.
It’s a shame there is no backstory – we would love to know how a mystical warrior, an elderly lady, a chubby baby, and a regal bipedal crocodile came together. We haven’t seen a group this ragtag since Capcom’s Captain Commando, some thirty years ago.
Like many games that fall within this genre, there’s a gimmick present. Here, your health bar recharges whenever you cease firing. Not instantly, we should note – it takes a few seconds to engage, during which you’re vulnerable. Because only a few hits can be withstood, it’s near essential to top up health whenever possible.
Therein lies the rub. The barrage of enemies (meteorites, eyeballs, and UFOs) is constant, and most types won’t simply pass on by – if you refrain from shooting too long a dozen enemies will accumulate at the top of the screen, spewing bullets in almost-impossible to dodge waves.
It’s a simple, yet highly effective, idea. It makes you think about when’s the best time to release your trigger finger, leaving you pining for a quiet spell to recharge safely. Never too punishing, the flow of enemies allows for the occasional interval – twice before a boss battle, a couple of power-ups are offered, of which you can choose just one. It’s here that you can let go of the fire button for a few seconds without fear of being mobbed. And breathe out.
The choice of power-ups is worth mulling over too, making you choose between more health or additional firepower. Do you want to take the slow but steady approach to the increasingly tough boss battles, slowly whittling down their defences while taking the occasional hit? Or do you want to go all guns blazing?
Once a boss is defeated, your triangular craft is stripped off all previously gained power-ups, forcing you to prepare for the next boss anew. Another collectable comes in the form of cute yellow bipedal crocodiles, which boost your score and help work towards unlocking an additional character.
Considering the £4.99 price tag it isn’t much of a surprise to find the presentation a little lacking. The omission of borders strikes us as peculiar, leaving large empty spaces down the sides of the playing field. It’s very minimalist, right down to the predominately black, and slowly scrolling, starfield backdrop. The techno soundtrack appropriately ‘pounding’ though, complimenting the fast pace.
Designed with score-chasing in mind, Task Force Kampas’ instantly gratifying nature makes for a compelling quick-burst shooting fix. The controls are responsive, it doesn’t take long at all to become overpowered – albeit only until the boss is defeated, which in turn creates a neat gameplay loop – and it’s easy to appreciate its sillier elements. It renders the publisher’s last shooter – the lacklustre Null Drifter – null and void.