Our Love of Fantasy Sports
This is more of a stream of consciousness that came from a team meeting, but something worthy of sharing.
Many titles have featured the classic "ping-pong" gameplay since, well, Pong itself. A constant back and forth motions, hurling the pixilated point from one side of the screen to the next is as addicting as it is casual. But there are tons of other elements in these style of games that leave many with their mark on the video game community. From the 80s classic NES Tennis title to the arcade volley release - Wind Jammers, games today still bring back that old approach to providing excellent competition with pick-up and play game style.
Hurling flying discs at competitors, fighting for the accomplishment of overall victory found its way onto consoles relatively early in the gaming market. The easy-to-learn approach of gliding across the screen, playing goalie, and sinking that match-winning shot became an addiction created from smooth gameplay mechanics, most notably found in the Neo-Geo title, Windjammers.
- Easy shifting from one side of the goal to the next.
- A clear view of the entire goal, both on your end and the competitors.
- A large enough arena to give the player time to react.
- A small enough arena to still provide a vibrant and turbulent competition.
- An easy learning curve to keep players hooked and coming back for more.
Other titles have tried to mimic this casual competitive mechanic -i.e... Gyrodisc: Super League, Power Disc Slam, and Disc Jam - but few have touched with the retro style of their predecessor. The touchy controls that seamlessly glide your challenger, stretching from one side of your goal to the next to provide a tenacious and precise structure only found in the simple arcade sporting titles of yesteryear. The 2D arena gives fewer worries for the player, leaving them to focus entirely on the core of the gameplay itself.
Strong features that occur in popular arcade-style sports games are the game-changing powerups. These little gems harness powerful, tricky, and many times absurd enhancements to the sport at hand. Real-life re-imagined sports with an added dabble of arcade fury gives the player a true sense of a fantasy environment. 3 on 3 NHL Arcade, Mutant League Football, and Mario Power Tennis are a few prime examples of over-the-top arcade mayhem. Using various items to powerup your player, increase your defense, or perhaps just make your offense that much easier is a light example of how unique powerups can change the pace of the game.
- Add occasional powerups and upgrades at crucial points in the match.
- Randomly generated enhancements to keep diversity and challenge to a maximum.
- Giving the ability to freeze shots
- Increase the speed of the ball or player
- Slow downtime, the ball or the other characters for a true shift of challenge
- Hazardous powerups to make things difficult during the heat of competition
- Leave a true arcade feel to the overall play of the game with outlandish opportunities and crafty abilities
The arcade features give players a new way to end the match victorious. Tons of different "Power Shots" is included in the Gamecube classic - Mario Power Tennis - are capable of throwing the game in any given direction. Mutant League Football provided game-changers with every hike of the post-apocalyptic football. Musically inducing shots, freezing enemies with fear (or ice), crumbling opponents with strengthened hits, or even turning yourself (or the ball) invisible to help give you a greater advantage - all huge in helping to bring the entire genre to life.
The art portrayed in the hottest arcade sports titles help give the title a sense of individuality. Quirky Mario characters shucking a soccer ball back and forth, undead monsters playing "professional" backyard style football or eccentric athletes with looks so over-the-top it hurts, provide a perfect mold of the developers own vision on the fantasy athletic world.
- Leave a memorable theme in the game's creative direction.
- Different characters each with their unique style and/or gameplay.
- Various arenas and levels with distinct assets setting them apart from others.
- The more abstract and illogical the characters, the better.
The world of Log Jammers combines these creative and compelling features found in the diverse world of arcade sports. The carefully crafted casual gameplay of the shooter/goalie position is a world away from most titles in this modern era but still manages to sit next to the most prominent competitive titles that release today. It's own roster of original characters, from Otter refs and different themed arenas to the colorful cast of athletic competitors.
The vibrant world of arcade sports is still very much alive and ever-so refreshing today. The classic features of fantasy characters, match-turning enhancements, powerful upgrades, and, of course, the addictive and simple playstyle of lobbing, chucking and heaving sports balls, discs of winds or axes remains a culture of spontaneous competition. Whether solo, two-player, or running an in-house tournament, otherwise simple features in arcade sports are sure to keep the competition growing.