Developer: Alistair Aitcheson
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Slamjet Stadium is just a little bit special. I won’t quite call it the game the iPad was made for, because that’s quite a meaningless statement. It is, however, a fantastic example of the kind of innovative gaming that could only really work on a touch based tablet.

A cross between Amiga classic, Speedball 2, and Air Hockey, Slamjet Stadium is an incredibly colorful, violent and fast paced sports game. Offering two versus two battles, players must flick the ball into the opposing goal. It sounds simple but it’s a frantic race to get there first, and try to avoid a frustrating own goal or two.

Controls take a bit of getting used to, involving pulling and dragging back in order to launch the player towards the ball. At first, it’s immensely easy to do this badly, thereby scoring an own goal (something that I did on my very first go!), but it’s a system that rewards practice and perseverance. Slamjet Stadium is meant to be frantic and a more finely tuned control system would belie its intentions. A series of environmental hazards that can emerge, such as a black hole that sucks players in, add to the wacky experience with power-ups also possible to activate. These can add a fierce gust of wind to the arena or freeze the opponent, amongst other things, and can quickly turn the tide of battle.

Players can compete in one of three single player tournaments: Amateur, Pro and Ultimate, carefully honing their skills as they progress. It’s possible to replay any failed match, so the campaign itself only really takes around an hour to finish, with the real fun coming from local multiplayer.

Playing against a friend can turn quite dirty in no time. All gloves are off and it’s possible to win through destroying one’s opponent rather than scoring a goal. It’s evil but there is more satisfaction to be gained from knocking an opponent into a saw blade or black hole, and it’s all the sweeter with them sitting opposite.

I’d love to see a major update in the future that could add more structure to the single player but, in its current build, Slamjet Stadium is still a heck of a lot of fun. With a variety of achievements to aim for and its hugely vibrant exterior, it’s tough not to be beguiled, even after an initially shaky start getting to grips with those controls.

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