Capsized is a 2D platforming side-scroller developed by Alientrap Games that was released for PC and iPad in 2011, and has now been ported by Koolhaus Games for Xbox Live Arcade. As an escape pod from a dying space ship crashes onto an alien planet, you’re left exploring a beautifully crafted alien world as a stranded astronaut in a space suit. Each level is essentially a complex 2D sandbox that offers plenty of physical interaction. The artistic hand-drawn visual style, rich soundtrack, and detailed physics stack up to make for a delightful treat. Thankfully, our puny astronaut is equipped with some fancy tools and weapons that gel well with the physics to make Capsized a truly unique experience rather than just another 2D side-scroller.
With a combination of all these tools and weapons, one can work magic through a level that most superheroes would be proud of.
The highlights among the weapons are the gravity hook and the gravity ram. Using the gravity hook, you can shoot and cling onto immovable objects, move small objects around to manipulate your path, or throw stuff at your foes and finish them off. The gravity ram is more like a punch in the face for the enemies up close, and it can also be used to launch yourself up in the air to compensate for heights that you can’t make using normal jumps. And it just so happens that the space suit is also equipped with a jet-pack. With a combination of all these tools and weapons, one can work magic through a level that most superheroes would be proud of.
The AI in Capsized is received no less attention. Your foes are mostly simple-minded aliens that attack you at sight or feel. While fighting these enemies, you’d have to weave your way through deadly traps, given ample freedom for exploration. You’re often encouraged with secrets and rewards for exploring the environment thoroughly. The levels are designed in a way that you have the freedom to approach any level in multiple ways, and more importantly, at your own pace. You can go all guns blazing or complete levels without firing a single round (there are Achievements for doing this). Capsized can be a slow, methodical platformer, or a fast-paced, reflex-based zip-zap adventure game, all depending on your approach. This makes it an enjoyable game to play in any mood.
Not only was the PC version’s aiming system superior, but the controls and feel in general were also much more native and enjoyable.
The only downside is that the aiming system is way too weak and feels disconnected. Since aiming is not only used for firing, but also for the general direction of control, such as the gravity hook’s push and pull, the weak aiming system ruins a good part of the fun. You’ll find yourself often stranded in the environment and going through awkwardly difficult situations because of this. There’s an auto-aim feature that tries to alleviate the pain, but it just doesn’t cut it. Having played the PC version of the game, I realised that this has more to do with the PC to console porting of the game. Not only was the PC version’s aiming system superior, but the controls and feel in general were also much more native and enjoyable as compared to the Xbox 360 version.
In addition to the campaign mode, there are also a few arcade modes, such as Bot Match, Time trial, Survival and Armless, which get unlocked by collecting a requisite amount of stars in the campaign. Bot Match is nothing but a death-match against Bots, while Time Trial is a race for Oxygen. Survival is a horde mode, whereas Armless lets you play levels by banning usage of all weapons. In addition to these, there is also a two-player co-op mode, which in reality isn’t quite as enjoyable as one would’ve hoped as it lacks finishing.
Nonetheless, Capsized is a fantastic retro-styled 2D platformer that’d be a shame to miss out on. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Rambo or a Mario, it offers creativity for almost every play style. That, in combination with rich attention to detail, lush visuals and creative physics, make Capsized stand out from the crowd. However, if you have the option to choose the PC version or if you’ve already played it on PC, the Xbox 360 version doesn’t offer much to justify the purchase.