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Capsized

In Capsized, players assume control of an astronaut stranded on a strange, deadly planet. The planet’s inhabitants, sometimes taking on familiar shapes and sometimes not, have met this human invader with hostility. Our astronaut, quick to prove that Homo sapiens do not take this kind of thing lightly, fires back. There is no communication, no attempts at peace and understanding. If the astronaut wishes to survive, to reunite with any surviving crew, to eventually escape, he must kill everything. He must conquer the planet.

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Taking the visual style of Elemental Gimmick Gear and gameplay mechanics from Bionic Commando Rearmed and Alien Hominid, Capsized pits players against enemies of all varieties. Some seem to exist simply to annoy: small, mosquito-like enemies dart at you, avoiding your reticule with every dash. Heavily armored giants spray bullets at you as their armor makes your guns practically worthless. Pudgy foes with jet packs fill the screen with the Immolator, a sort of flamethrower that devastates even formidable opponents.

And of course, there are more. More lurking in dark caves. Some that swarm in dozens. Some double, and even triple, the size of the spaceman. The odds are against him since danger almost always lurks at the edge of the screen. Capsized doesn’t work players through waves foes leading up to intense boss battles. Capsized keeps the players engaged in constant, stressful combat. Murderous foes occupy nearly every inch of the sprawling levels. Moving at anything but a careful, measured pace often means death.

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Combat makes up a significant part of the experience, but Capsized is equally about exploration. The planet’s gravity isn’t quite the same as Earth, so the spaceman’s got ups. With a grappling hook, he can reach high ledges, and if the next ledge proves just too far away, occasionally the spaceman will find fuel for his jet pack, letting him soar around through pea green and uranium yellow skies. All of these tools must be utilized as the player scours through each area in search of secret passageways and much needed supplies.

As fun as it may be dangling hundreds of feet above the ground blasting aliens from a tether, Capsized is by no means a flawless adventure. Considering how much time it takes to travel from one part of the map to another, the checkpoint system could have been a little more generous. There are also a number of deadly traps in the game, many of which can’t be seen until the player unwittingly wanders into a hailstorm of undetectable arrows. This just screams of unfairness, especially since you have a limited number of lives at your disposal. And while accommodations were made to tailor the experience to the PC, the keyboard just doesn’t seem ideal for this type of game (and plugging in a controller didn’t improve it much, either).

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But, I like Capsized. It uses its design rather effectively, making the gameplay tell its story instead of relying on cutscenes and taking players out of the experience. It is a story about survival against the odds and, in addition to a lengthy campaign, players can unlock new play modes by collecting stars. There’s also a local co-op mode, a rarity on the platform. Though not flawless, Capsized combines a unique style with classic gameplay to produce a unique and memorable experience.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

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