Log Jammers is an upcoming arcade sports game from Mega Cat Studios that, if the name didn’t make it obvious, is another take on ultimate Frisbee. Players pick from a choice of avatars, all with slightly varying stats, then battle it out against either AI or a friend online or on the same screen.
After spending some time with the demo, it’s clear the game developers have a lot of love for the genre. Although a few design choices could hold it back from being truly great, it’s heading on the right path.
Taking the ultimate Frisbee gameplay design (itself really just pong with a little more nuance) and overlaying it with a goofy horror vibe, Log Jammers has players attempting to launch axes, rather than a disc or ball at each other.
The main goal being to launch said axe past your opponent into their goal area, which is broken into two separate scoring zones. Hitting the large yellow area in the middle will net you 2 points, while smaller red portions of the goal in each corner are harder to hit, but net you a cool 5. It’s fairly easy to launch a bouncing axes across the area and land it into the 2 point zone, but the 5 pointers require you aim a little more directly at them, meaning it’s easier for your opponent to block and return the shot. Each game is a first to three sets, with a set being won after either player scores 11 points.
The gameplay in Log Jammers is pretty much what you’ve come to expect if you’ve played any games in the genre, it’s fast and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Power-ups floating across the middle divide most rounds. The arena areas themselves feel a little too small for the player sprites, making the game feel a touch claustrophobic. Either expanded arenas or slightly scaled down character sprites would do this game the world of good.
The game also doesn’t do a good job of explaining mechanics, or what power ups are meant to do. I would occasionally catch the axe with a ring appearing around my character, signalling that it was being launched back immediately, but I never once figured out how to do this on purpose.
The demo also only allows you to play as one character against a selection of three others. While I understand why the roster is so limited for a demo, being able to choose who I controlled, rather than the middle of the road lumberjack would have really opened the demo up, showing off a little more.
The visual and artistic design of the game, however is great. Using modern sprite work, which seems to be in vogue at the moment (see Dead Cells and Hyperlight Drifter). Building on the fact you are throwing axes at each other, the game has a goofy horror vibe throughout. Characters include the aforementioned lumberjack; a sunglasses wearing skeleton, a zombiefied bear and a few 90s sporting cliches for good measure. Speaking of 90s aesthetics, the music is a complete throwback. Lofi, Sega Genesis style hip hop with midi scratches, it’s fun but ultimately a little forgettable. Everything works well to create a bizarre world, one that I am looking forward to seeing more of in the full game.
Overall, Log Jammers looks to have its heart in the right place, however the limited size of the arenas tends to make the gameplay feel a little too chaotic at times. This can make winning feel like it requires more luck than skill. This could end up being the death of an arcade sports game like this. Hopefully by the time of full release Mega Cat Studios work out some of the kinks, as more fun couch co-op games is never really a bad thing.
Honestly though, the coolest thing about this game? The developers have made a NES version, which you can buy as a fully boxed cartridge. If NES carts aren’t you’re thing you can always back it on Kickstarter.