Space Captain McCallery Episode 1: Crash Landing is a deliciously retro action adventure fusion. You play as a captain that has been kicked off his own spaceship. His crew mutinied, leaving him with nothing but an escape pod. Having crash landed on an alien planet, the captain lacks even sustenance. Left to his own devices, his hunger is getting the best of him and he has only his bare hands to take on the hostile wildlife.
Tutorialization is light so you essentially jump right in to harvesting and eating alien plants. This will fill your hunger meter. When you get too hungry, your movement speed is slowed and you have a little over a minute to eat something before you die. Once you have your first meal, you get a taste for your main methods of traversal. You can’t jump, but you have a fixed length dash. This will let you cross small gaps or just cover ground quicker. But the bottomless pits around you will keep you in check if you try to abuse it. This is key when it comes to moving around when hungry – you can still dash so you’ll have to choose between a safe, slow walk or a perilous, speedy dash to get you to your next meal. Though, to be honest, I never ran out of plants and was rarely hungry for long.
So you have food and a handle on controls. Next, you find a nearby save point and drop down to the platform below. A few meters away: your first combat encounter. The Zelda-like lock on allows you to focus on an enemy and strafe around it. Without your trusty firearm, you can punch the incoming alien insects or hurl a boulder. Either way, you’ll have to dance around them to avoid their lunges. This style of combat was entertaining, and even more so once you acquire a space gun later on. Sometimes, the number of enemies would get overwhelming and they’d frustratingly push me off a ledge. But the load time back to the save point was instant and if I came back with a game plan, I could pick off enemies pretty safely.
My favorite part of this game are the cave sections that feel like they’re halfway between Zelda II caves and Zelda dungeons. There are twisting pathways, mushrooms that will cause you to hallucinate, and light puzzle and platforming challenges. At the end of it, you exit a different way than you came in – bringing you to a new part of the overworld. As much as I enjoyed these mini-dungeons, I would have loved for them to be meatier. I felt like they were just getting special as the game came to a close. To that end, I’m extremely interested to see what’s next for Space Captain McCallery.
As an introductory episode, this game stands on its own but more importantly, it showcases massive potential. The fusion of exploration, survival and action provided good pacing. Furthmore, the cave sections really felt like I was going deeper and deeper into foreign and hostile territory. The frightful music was an appropriate backdrop to this intentionally pulpy atmosphere. And of course, the graphics. You can’t ignore the low poly look combined with the low resolution textures to make for a true PS1/N64 feel. Space Captain McCallery Episode 1: Crash Landing feels like it can sit alongside Brave Fencer Musashi and Jet Force Gemini as a novel acion adventure, but it will leave you wanting more. Hopefully it’s a taste of more adventures to come.