Once in a blue moon a game comes down the pipe that completely changes the landscape of gaming and redefines a genre, like Super Mario 64 did for 3D Platformers or World of Warcraft for MMORPGs, but sadly in the case of Bread Machine Games’ Slam Land, the lack of any sort of unlockables and little character options keep this unique party game from reaching those earth shattering heights.
Slam Land is a four player couch fighting/party game, where you and your friends must compete in five different game modes to gain the favor of a benevolent blue giant. Right off the bat Slam Land sets itself apart from most fighting games with its intriguing premise; let alone the fact that it isn’t even really about fighting, instead the goal is to pick up your friends and or objects and dunk them into several different glistening portals.
There are five modes that are just different enough to keep the overall gameplay loop of dunking things fresh and fun. These being Peanut, Horse, Trash, Quick Slam and Slam Tour. But if we’re being honest the inclusion of Slam Tour as a game mode is kind of a stretch, it’s just a playlist of the four main game modes, of which Quick Slam is easily the weakest link. Where the other modes offer a creative take on the dunk mechanic and actually require some strategy, the standard Slam doesn’t really do anything noteworthy. In Slam your only objective is to best your friends and dunk them. Where Peanut forces you to hold onto the Peanut for as long as possible before dunking it to rack up points. And Horse where you have to dunk the horses with the correct letters to spell out the word horse, but the kick to it is that the letters seem to spawn randomly. I’ve had matches where I dunked four out of the five letters but never managed to snatch the fifth. These three games kept me playing for quite some time, but without any sort of incentive system I found myself only being able to play for small sessions before my interest began waning, especially when playing against NPCs. The inclusion of some character customization or a trophy system à la Super Smash Bros, would improve Slam Land greatly.
But what really stands out is Slam Land’s art style. Its assumably hand drawn art is beautiful and whimsical, which does a lot to add to the wacky world that Bread Machine Games has created. The one issue I have with it is the color pallet; due to the vibrant nature of the colors used on both the characters and the background it can be incredibly hard to keep track of your character at times, especially when the stage transitions and the camera zooms out. In a game like Slam Land where precision is key, losing your character for even a moment can easily amount to a defeat.