Nostalgia is a powerful drug. Captain Kaon attempts to recapture the gameplay of retro games like Thrust and Gravitar. Developed by Engage Pixel, Captain Kaon doesn’t hold your hand. It’s control scheme screams “retro” as you control axis and thrust, making for antique flying. But when you pull off when you set out to do it can feel satisfying. Captain Kaon is a game made with love for people who love 80’s twin stick shooters, but doesn’t offer much for anyone else.
The missons revolve around you navigating your ship through the map as you destroy enemies, doors and compounds. The controls take a lot of time to get used to, so thank whoever that smashing into the ground or walls doesn’t damage your ship. As you complete missions you will secure sectors of the planet, rewarding you resources. These can be spent to auto-complete new missions as well as being prerequisites for later ones. You can force the previous completed sectors to give you more resources, but this is met with resistance from the miners, resulting in defense missions. Gameplay is pretty lackluster, and maybe fighting the controls is supposed to part of the experience, usually it just turns into having no fun. Not that there isn’t fun to be had in Captain Kaon, it’s just few and far between.
The graphics are retro inspired I guess. It looks to me more like a New Grounds flash game, or something I would find on a sketchy website after googling “fun free games”. Animation is smooth and the explosions are what you’d expect. I think the art direction is trying to cash in on an era of nostalgia that I was not a part of, so maybe that is why I don’t really have a feeling either way. Never did I think the game looked bad, but it never looked good either. I guess it’s the definition of blah.
The story is classic 80’s fare as well. I’m going to literally copy and past what is on the steam page, because that is the story.
The overcrowded Earth has found a new home among the stars, a clutch of habitable worlds in the Regulus sector. But this new paradise did not last long as a strange alien force began a relentless assault on their colonies. This threat to human expansion could not go unchallenged.
In response the Earth has sent the finest ships in the Interstellar Navy to defend the colonists and protect its interests. Left behind are the old and the out of date, led by the flagship Argus. A small fleet of relics to defend our only home.
Hot headed and insubordinate, Captain Talia ‘Kaon’ was facing a court martial when war broken out. Hoping this new conflict would give her the chance for salvation, she instead found herself left behind. With the Argus operating on a skeleton crew, she has been assigned as its sole gunship pilot.
In the midst of this uncertainty the miners of Ceres revolt against Earth rule, refusing to supply the fleet with the deuterium fuel it sorely needs. Without it the fleet in Regulus will be unable to fight and the Earth will become vulnerable. Only Captain Kaon can fly her gunship through the twisting tunnels beneath Ceres surface and fight the revolt.
Man that sounds cool, but none of this is really shown through the game. Most of the time playing you’re not even thinking about the story as you struggle to fly the ship.
Captain Kaon isn’t a terrible game, it’s just not good. Terrible controls, or maybe me just sucking, gimped the game. Even so, there isn’t a fun gameplay hook baked in. Luckly Captain Kaon is priced accordingly, coming in at $6.99 USD. If you need to get your 80’s nostalgia, twin stick shooter trip then look no further, but remember there is a reason they don’t make games like this anymore.