Capsized – Xbox 360
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: IndiePub
Release Date: Jul 5, 2013
Genre: Action, Platformer
Reviewed by Dean Engle

Review Score: 3 of 5

There’s no shortage of downloadable 2D platformers on the market today, so any new entry into the genre has to do something unique enough to drastically differentiate itself from the crowd. Capsized does a great job of being different, but not a great a job of actually being a high quality, enjoyable game. That’s not to say it is a terrible game by any means. It is, however, a frustrating, clumsy, extremely short game that makes up for it’s shortcomings with a unique visual style, atmospheric soundtrack, and ambitious design.

Capsized has very little story to speak of, but what little information you get from the pictures and levels work in tandem with the simple, ambient music and fantastic art design to create a wonderfully mysterious world in which you and your crew have been stranded. This works well into the design of the levels that require a large amount exploration to reach the various objectives within each level. It’s actually surprising how effective the game is at conveying the feeling of being lost on an unexplored planet filled with overgrown plants and strange creatures that want nothing more than to kill you at every chance they get, especially considering how little exposition is actually in the game. For all the faults Capsized may have, the way it establishes an amazing sense of place is second to none. Unfortunately, an immersive world isn’t enough to make a game worth while.

The first big problem with Capsized is the controls. It makes sense that this game is also available on PC because a controller just doesn’t seem to cut it on the Xbox 360. With dual joystick shooter controls on the analog sticks, shooting on the right trigger, grappling hook on the left trigger, auto aim on the left bumper, charge shot on the right bumper, jumping on the A button, jetpack on the X button, and weapon changes on the D-Pad, just about every single button and stick on the controller plays a vital role in controlling the character and keeping him alive. The game would be virtually unplayable without the auto aim on the left bumper that allows for lock on targeting of enemies, but even that assistance doesn’t stop there from being many times where jumping aiming and shooting a grappling hook all need to be done swiftly and effectively to prevent death.

I beat a majority of the dozen or so levels in the game on normal difficulty, but I eventually had to put the difficulty on easy just to get passed some of the tougher parts. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to make it through the game on normal or even hard with the controls as they are on the Xbox 360, but I can easily see how a mouse and keyboard would drastically improve playability and decrease the many frustrations the controls cause. This is especially apparent in underground levels that limit visibility to a small cone created by the flashlight. Beating these levels basically comes down to level memorization with such clumsy controls and limited visibility. This means the amazing feeling of exploring a new world takes a backseat when you’ve seen the same level a dozen times due to dying.

I’m also not sure whether or not to call the extremely short length of this game a positive or a negative because I was already sick of having to replay levels many times over by the time I beat it, which made the game longer than it otherwise would have been. As it stands on the Xbox 360, I think the game is the right length due to how frustrating it becomes, but someone who is good at this game could easily blow through it in a couple of hours.

It makes me sad that a game with such a fantastic setting and ambitious game design flounders because of the controls, but even if I was playing it with a mouse and keyboard it would still be too short to make it feel like a fully realized game. Considering all its faults, Capsized is just a mediocre 2D platformer in spite of some of its fantastic elements.