Despite what the title may suggest, Battery Jam has more to do with jam than batteries. And no, I’m not talking about your Thanksgiving leftovers. This is a multiplayer jamboree (see?) that works so well on Nintendo Switch.
The idea behind Battery Jam is simple enough. You have a time limit to turn more tiles into your color than your opponents. Whoever owns the most tiles wins.
On paper, that sounds easy enough. However, it’s the variety of ways you can attain victory that makes this more complicated. For example, gray floor tiles can be run over to turn your color. An opponent can sink the block, turning it into lava, and dash over it to convert, though. This tactic can also be used to sink an opponent converting the surrounding tiles. Same goes for if you raise a tile, which effectively propels a character off of the stage. That includes you if you’re not careful enough!
Another element at play is the boomboxes. These will appear on stage and can be shot at to send in one of four directions. After a short while, they will explode, turning all surrounding tiles into lava. Another strategic use of a boombox is to fire it at an opponent, effectively smashing them. This not only takes them out of commission but also turns the boombox into your color. The exploding boombox will then turn surrounding tiles into that color.
Smash and grab
Battery Jam is a surprisingly deep experience despite its party-like genre. What seems like a simple-enough game turns into a fast-paced strategic brawl once you learn all the nuances. It can be daunting at first trying to keep track of everything happening at once. That includes keeping track of where your character is at all times. Once you train your eyes, though, managing through the chaos becomes easier.
One knock I will make is the lack of game modes available. The default game involves claiming the most floor tiles in your color either in a free-for-all or team setting. There are match settings that allow you to make adjustments, such as with win stipulations, teleporters, number of boomboxes on screen, and more. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the experience a whole lot, and you’ll find yourself likely sticking with the default game. Having a single player tournament, different game modes built in, or a stage editor would have been appreciated.
Despite those limitations, Battery Jam is still a very enjoyable game. It can be really hard to put down, especially if you have some competitive friends over. Not too many games these days can boast having a fun couch multiplayer experience like this. Even if you don’t have three friends, bots can be set with 5 different levels of difficulty to choose from. Otherwise, jam out with your friends and play this.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
David has been involved in games media since 2012 running his own blog, YouTube channel, being a founding member of RETRO Magazine, and now as host/producer of ARGcast – Another Retro Gaming Podcast. He also dabbles in voiceover and is occasionally a stunt double for Jude Law.