You know what’s awful? Having too many friends. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to destroy your friendships and clear out that schedule just a bit? Turns out there is! Just get some of your closest buddies in on some competitive multiplayer gaming and you’ll be sure to hate each other before long. If you need a game suggestion, perhaps Mario Party, Lethal League or the new territory-control-slash-murder-your-friends game Battery Jam will suffice for your needs. Let’s talk about that last one a bit.
Battery Jam might have a plot…maybe? If it did, I probably missed it in the chaos. See, this is a multiplayer battle game supporting up to four players, so things can get a little nuts. One note before we go further: you’ll absolutely want some friends for this one as while there are AI opponents, they’re not especially tough on even the highest difficulty. For all intents and purposes, consider other people a necessity here.
Anyway, each player controls a robot tasked with running around the arena claiming territory. Stepping on unclaimed land will claim it for your color. Naturally, the other players are trying to do the same thing, so you’ll want to take action to stop them. You’ve got a couple options for that: a stun shot that knocks the target out for a bit and the ability to raise and lower tiles on the ground. If you’re standing on a tile when it’s raised or lowered, you’re toast, so basic combat amounts to stunning your victim then running up and manipulating the tile they’re on to take them out. There are also explosive Boomboxes around that can be kicked into foes to lethal effect before going boom a bit later.
Killing opponents doesn’t keep them out of the game for long, but it does cause an explosion that swaps all nearby tiles to your own color. This is the primary means of stealing other players’ territory, so after the initial land rush, Battery Jam becomes a combat-centric game where you’re doing your best to jockey for position and blast the competition. It’s all quick fun that’s easy to pick up and a fantastic time if you get the right group together.
With shots and Boomboxes flying everywhere and four players desperately trying to slaughter one another, it’s a good thing that Battery Jam’s simple, clean graphics keep the screen from getting too messy. This sort of cartoon aesthetic is a favorite of mine since it looks good without going overboard on hardware requirements; I also appreciate that the robots are packed with personality, dancing around like idiots after a match. Likewise, the sound effects and music are simple but effective, allowing players to stay on top of what’s going on without being overwhelmed.
Thanks to the rise of services like Parsec that make it much easier to enjoy local games with non-local friends, Battery Jam‘s an easy recommendation. It calls to mind the old days of Bomberman or Micro Machines on the SNES – everyone can figure the game out and improve together while having a fantastic time. If you’re after some local (or pseudo-local) action, you can’t really go wrong here.