By Tyler Lubben / April 28th, 2015
Captain Forever Remix is a fantastic example of a premise turning a fairly simple concept into a wonderfully nostalgic experience. When I first saw pictures of the game, I can’t say I was particularly overwhelmed. It looked like a fairly straightforward sci-fi shooter along the same vein as Asteroids, albeit with an fairly interesting ship-building mechanic. However, presentation is everything, especially in video games, where gamers have loads and loads of choices before them, and only a finite amount of money. As such, the more I learned about Pixelsaurus Games’ new shooter, the more absorbed I got in its concepts.
Captain Forever Remix is a remake of the 2009 title, Captain Forever. However, where the original game immediately dropped you into the action, this remix has an amusing premise, which is what initially caught my attention. More than anything else, I was immediately drawn to the game due to its classic art style, harkening back to those funky cartoon shows from that 90s that I grew up with. This wasn’t an accident, as the game’s story itself is incredibly reminiscent of this bygone era. Players fill the role of Natalie, a girl who happens to be a massive fan of the Saturday morning cartoon show, Captain Forever. Not one to let Natalie enjoy her show, though, her younger brother, Kevin, pesters her to play a game. When she finally gives in to his nagging, Kevin changes into the mutant King Kevin and challenges her to a race across the solar system all the way to Pluto. Natalie dons the mantle of Captain Forever, and proceeds to build her spaceship and challenge her dumb brother and his many anthropomorphic minions.
Captain Forever Remix has a simple, but interesting gameplay mechanic. The WASD keys are used to move, while right-clicking will fire any weapons the player has equipped. The main draw, though, is the way players interact with ship parts. After defeating an opponent, players can left-click to grab any intact ship pieces from their enemies and attach them to their own ship, thereby increasing its capabilities. This gives players the freedom to design just about any kind of ship they can think of, provided the materials are there.
Of course, this type of gameplay can either be a blessing or a curse. While it’s incredibly freeing to be able to build just about any kind of ship you want, the only limit is your imagination. Unfortunately, my imagination is pre-e-e-tty limited when it comes to building things; doubly so when you’re trying to slap more pieces onto your ship with more enemy fighters closing in. As such, more often than not, my ship ended up becoming a massive, unwieldy block with asymmetrical thrusters and weaponry scattered about wherever, making it incredibly difficult to both control and shoot. Other times, I forgot that my little CF pod was the true lifeforce of the ship and didn’t protect it effectively. To use a very clever Star Wars analogy, no matter how big and powerful your weapons are, they don’t mean much if your opponents have a clear shot to the core.
However, if you are handy when it comes to ship construction, there is plenty of freedom in how you customize your ship. The game has plenty of different types of weapons and thrusters to suit different play styles. Aside from the standard blasters, players can find sniper modules, which fires less often, but their shots travel much farther. Shotgun-like modules do more damage from close up, but spread out as they travel. There are also electrical weapons that are weaker than other weapons, but continue to travel through enemy ships, rendering their defenses useless. My favorite, though, was a short-range laser weapon that tore through enemy ships like tissue paper with its sustained damage. However, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, as enemies can destroy you just as quickly with this weapon if you’re too greedy (which I usually was). Fortunately, the game also features a selection of defensive ship parts to help keep things intact. There are force field batteries that envelop the ship in a protective barrier. I also enjoyed the circular saw blades that would deal constant damage to ships that came in contact with them. And let’s not forget the different jet boosters players can acquire. While you’ll start with simple thrusters that only fire in one direction, you’ll also find dual thrusters that can fire both forward and backward, making them incredibly convenient by comparison. There are also thrusters that sit on a pivot, and will move based on your inputs, making it easy to move forward, backward, spin your ship or strafe to the left or right.
The kicker in all this is that how aggressive you are will directly affect the amount of ship parts available to you. If you just rush in for a head-on assault and destroy most of the enemy ship before taking out their core, you won’t have as many parts to work with. While it’s a bit trickier to do so, it’s better in the long run to play smarter and find ways around your enemies to take out their cores while destroying as few of their actual parts in the process as possible.
Any time you defeat an enemy, you’ll receive a small bit of money, which you can use to upgrade starter kits. These give different starting weapons and defense setups, whenever you begin a new game. Captain Forever Remix features a roguelike mechanic, forcing you to start from the beginning again every time your ship is destroyed, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spend your money. Depending on which kit you’re using, you can increase how often your weapons do critical hits or whether a shot might temporarily stun an enemy ship. Other upgrades can make it so defeating an enemy will heal you or give you more time to add pieces to your ship after you complete a level.
Of course, you may have the perfect setup for your ship, with all your weapons and thrusters in the right places, but, unless you keep your parts up to date, enemies will simply be able to steamroll you if you advance too far. As you progress through the levels, enemies will have different colored parts making up their ships. These colors indicate their strength. The lowest color rank is green, but these will quickly progress to yellow, orange and red, all the way up to blue, pink and purple ranks. If there are any colors higher than that, I never saw them in my playthroughs. The higher the colors rank, the better the damage or fire rate on weapons, the higher the defense of normal blocks and the higher the strength of the thrusters.
While you might think it’s better to just replace any weaker colored parts, you have to factor in how these changes will affect your ship’s performance. This is especially evident with thrusters, where stronger jets on one side of the ship might overcompensate for other, weaker ones. This can make your ship much harder to control as it constantly veers to one side or the other as the stronger thrusters take over. As you get into fights, you’ll likely start losing armor and weapons, as well. Fortunately, if you find things getting out of control, you can also detach your pod from the ship at large and make a quick escape. You can even use the pod to get into the crevices of an enemy ship to get a clear shot at their own core and then take their ship parts as your own.
Sadly, I was reminded before too long that Captain Forever Remix is still an Early Access game. Working my way through the game, I fought from the Sun to Mercury to Venus, all the way up to Jupiter. However, after completing my mission on Level 6, I warped out as usual to find… nothing. The game simply stopped responding after this point. With nothing left to do, I was forced to quit back to the main menu. Thinking it might have been a glitch, I started a new game and began a new quest to stop King Kevin’s “evil” plot. However, after completing the Jupiter mission a second time, I was once again rudely halted. It appears as though Pixelsaurus Games is making the game in sequential order, and simply stopping once players have reached as far as they can. It’s a bit of a jarring to be cut off so abruptly, but, if nothing else, it is a fantastic taste of things to come.
Captain Forever Remix is available on Early Access for $15 right now, and I’m more than pleased at what you get for that price. It’s a light-hearted romp through space chock full of explosions and outdated mannerisms that any 90s kid will love. While the game isn’t quite finished yet, the gameplay and themes are certainly locked down, and, with all the different starter kits and ship design potential, you get an excellent taste of what’s to come. If it looks like it might be up your alley, please do check out the Captain Forever Remix website or download the game on Steam.
Captain Forever RemixEarly AccessImpressionsPCpixelsaurus games