Here at Indie Ranger, we’re hesitant to do full reviews of Early Access titles as features can change and bugs can be fixed on a day to day basis. However, due to a miscommunication on our end, we prematurely published a review of the Early Access title Log Jammers by Mega Cat Studios which can be found here. For transparency’s sake the original review will be kept up, but note that it does not reflect the state of the game once it launches. An official first look at the current state of Log Jammers can be found here.
Log Jammers from Mega Cat Studios is an axe-throwing sports game inspired by the game Windjammers by Data East and published by SNK. Players take on the role of various athletes, lumberjacks, and undead to compete in a fast-paced game where axes are thrown instead of balls or pucks. Originally a Kickstarter project in late 2018, Log Jammers managed to raise over $20 thousand and boasts the support of old-school Windjammers fans.
The rules of the game are simple, players are divided on one of two sides of the stage and their goal is throw an axe past their opponent to the edge. Functionally, it’s very similar to air hockey except the entire backside is the scoring zone. The sets are three-out-of-five and the first player to score higher than ten points wins the set. The game has more depth and strategy when considering that different parts of the scoring zone are worth different points. This generally means the edges are worth five points, while a large middle zone is only worth two. The game’s Cheerleader Mode allows for longer sets. Each side of the field will have five cheerleaders on inner tubes protecting the scoring zone. This means that players will have to first kill the cheerleaders protecting the scoring zone, then they can strike in a vulnerable spot for points. Alternatively, players can focus on opening up the scoring zone entirely by killing all five cheerleaders on one side. In either mode the goal remains the same—score greater than ten points and win three sets.
Ultimately while playing, the system’s depth felt undermined by the game’s own speed. When throwing the axe, most angled shots are easily blocked simply by luck. The momentum the axe has makes it likely that a bouncing one will simply hit your character if you wiggle in the right spot. Shots are made at an angle or thrown straight based on what key the player is pressing when they throw. Moving diagonally or vertically will result in a shot that will bounce off the walls. Moving horizontally will create a quick, straight shot. Although these shots are more predictable, they’re also more reliable in scoring—at least against bots—but that might be a testament to the game’s AI opponents being easy overall.
The bots are intimidating at first with their jerky and precise movements. Although, after a few minutes their actions become familiar. The bots tend to linger near the rope making shots easier. If the player feints one way before swooping in for a straight shot, they’ll hit goals easily. When playing against bots it feels more like luck and exploiting the game’s A.I., rather than skill.
Thankfully, these issues become insignificant when playing against friends. However, there aren’t any multiplayer features as of v1.0b, despite them being advertised on the Steam page. Log Jammers seems that it would be a more interesting game against human opponents. In addition to the lack of features, there’s a frequently occurring bug—which happened at least three times during this review—where bot opponents grabbing a power-up would be able to jump the median rope and get stuck on the player’s side of the field. This issue was corrected on the next point being scored when each player is reset to a home position, however.
Graphically, the game has an apologetically retro arcade vibe with neon lights and surfer dudes among the playable characters. With over the top character design and backstory, Log Jammers has a touch of whimsy that other sports games are lacking, and is a fun break from serious sports games. Musically, nothing particularly stands out in the game, but the easily loop-able retro jams aren’t particularly grating either. The title screen is an exception with a high-pitched tone.
Ultimately, Log Jammers is a small air hockey game that appears to emulate Windjammers but falls short in an effort to be more hectic and fast-paced. Log Jammers has small bugs, some power-ups offering no noticeable benefit, and gameplay that’s so fast it feels more luck-based than skill-based. Log Jammers is a single player experience that peaks after about half an hour. Once the computer-controlled bots have been figured out, the tournament mode becomes more tedious than fun. With multiplayer functionality coming Log Jammers in the future, it could prove to be a fun party game, but on its own is just a waste of time.
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