The App Store has grown into such a large marketplace that sometimes you just can’t tell the difference between indie games and big-company titles. With Slamjet Stadium (out now, $2.99), you definitely know it’s an indie game as soon as you see the start menu. It’s a fast-paced, frantic game that no big developer would ever approve of, but that’s what makes it so great. We don’t see developers just go for their idea very often anymore. Slamjet Stadium is a good reason for more to do so.
If you wanted a simple description of the game, that’s easy — it’s air hockey on steroids. The best steroids you can find. Rather than hitting a puck back and forth across a table, you have to fling cars against a ball as you try to roll it into the opponent’s end. There are power-ups and environmental hazards that double the fun, including local multiplayer, which makes the game even more frantic.
The controls are fairly simple but difficult to get used to. You must tap on a car and drag your finger back, releasing to essentially ‘fling’ the car towards the ball. It’s a bit like pool or snooker; hit the ball at the right angle and it may roll in the right direction. You may find yourself scoring a few own goals more often than not, but that seems like a right of passage in Slamjet Stadium. After a few rounds, it should feel like second nature. Even if it doesn’t, the game is still incredibly fun and should be even more hectic — something the developer was clearly aiming for.
Visually, the game has its own unique style. I like that. Everything is cartoony and lively. You can choose to play as one of six teams, each with their own appearance. They don’t have any real advantage over each other, which is a shame as the game lacks variety in terms of gameplay. It would have been nice to choose a team with specific abilities to make you think before each game. The campaign also restricts Slamjet Stadium to a simple quick-session game. You can play through any of three single player tournaments: Amateur, Pro, and Ultimate. You can replay any failed match, limiting the total playtime to around an hour. That’s why there is local multiplayer, I guess.
If there is any variety in the gameplay though, it definitely comes from the power-ups and achievements. Whacky things can occur mid-game, such as black hole that sucks players in. Special power-ups are served on a first-come first-served basis, so attention and quick reactions are required. My personal favorite is ‘Rage Mode’, where your cars turn into a death machine and bash everything and anything you fling them at. Another cool power-up is ‘Mines’, where a set of mines are placed around your own net, protecting it from the ball or opponent from coming near it.
iFanzine Verdict: Slamjet Stadium is an incredibly fun game. Its whacky graphics and intuitive power-ups make it one of the most frantic games on the App Store. Although the gameplay is limiting and the controls take some time to get used to, it’s still a nice reminder that there are indie developers who just go for their idea.