Task Force Kampas isn’t just inspired by Japanese shoot ‘em ups (shmups), it is inspired by the underground indie variant of those known as doujin among the genre elitists in Japanese gaming. So basically, it’s a niche within a niche… which is pretty cool to see on Xbox One. It’s helped too by a very small entry price. With Task Force Kampas what you see is what you get, and to appreciate how niche and focused this game is, it was initially available only on the itch.io platform before making its way to consoles.
Task Force Kampas combines classic shmup gameplay with rhythm action games, emphasising frantic bullet-hell action with an intensely compelling rhythm flow to it. Rhythm action games have built a following in recent years, their popularity really kicking off during the PlayStation 2 days, and they have recently seen a resurgence of sorts in the PC gaming scene, especially with some of the recent Oculus Rift projects. Score chasing is what these games are all about, and so Task Force Kampas offers a fun score chasing experience both as a shmup and as a rhythm action game.
The plot setup isn’t quite clear, it involves a group of heroes battling aliens in space all while collecting golden crocodiles, and there’s a baby and a grandma in the squad too. This is a game that is as arcade as they come, where the simple controls are self-explanatory and you get started right away. You have a fire shot button which you can hold down for a continuous stream… and that’s about it really. The simple controls are necessary too since this game is all about fast reflexes and bullet-hell action, all to the beat of the rhythm.
Task Force Kampas has a unique aesthetic about it, featuring big sprites and making use of dull pastel colours. If you’ve ever browsed DLsite (a Japanese indie game platform) then the style of this game is pretty consistent with those. The music is the obvious strongest aspect of the presentation, featuring strong space-age techno that hits hard and hits fast. The pace of the music tends to match the gameplay pace quite well, and so it’s really all about entering a zone in your mind, becoming one with the music and shooting.
The shooting action in Task Force Kampas is quite straightforward, but it has the addictive pick up and play style and replayability of classic arcade games, where it’s all about entering a gameplay loop to chase a higher score with each attempt. The game is quite difficult early on, but one thing it does quite differently from most shmups is that rather than your ship exploding from just a single hit there is instead a shield mechanic where you have the opportunity to regenerate your shield after being hit. It’s a nice little touch which balances out the difficulty for a bit.
The longer you’re able to stay in the action the crazier things get, especially when the bosses and their sprites fill up the screen. Still, even as you lose to try and try again, the benefit of having this game on Xbox One immediately becomes apparent thanks to the achievements. Sure, every single game on the console has achievements, but rarely are they ever tied to gameplay in a compelling way. With Task Force Kampas there is a sense of progression and improvement as you unlock these achievements, tied to things like the number of enemies you have defeated or even the number of asteroids destroyed.
Task Force Kampas on Xbox One can be a fun and unique experience for those who have never stepped into the fascinating world of Japanese doujin shooters. All things considered it’s a pretty basic arcade shooter, and the gameplay variety is fairly limited, but the challenge and level design can be compelling as you slowly improve and get a higher score. For Xbox One owners, this is a fun foray into a genre that is really a niche within a niche.