Data Jammers combines three of my favourite things. Digital Eel, Motorways and a Kenta Cho circa 2005-6 aesthetic. Honestly, if you really want to know the way to my heart, it’s not flowers, it’s things that go brum brum vroom in cod-neon colours.
Obviously if you can make some flowers that go brum brum vroom in cod-neon colours then maybe we can talk about that but until then, Datajammers it is.
brum brum vroom in cod-neon colours
There’s a whole load of obligatory silly plot guff but the game essentially boils down to, as my good chum Lewie puts it, “going along a futuristic motorway really quickly”.
And that’s pretty much what you’ll be doing for most of Data Jammers. You’ll be going along a futuristic motorway really quickly. Of course, that the motorway bends and twists and splits off in the most hypnotic and curious of ways leaving you often dazzled at how criminally difficult this place would be for SCS to build a new Eurotruck Simulator game around is also a thing.
Of course, there’s the obligatory enemies too. It wouldn’t be a neon-soaked arcade game without enemies, right? (This is videogames, Rob. I don’t think you need to even ask this – Ed)
At first you’re just kinda avoiding a bit of traffic and the odd dumb enemy that comes drifting down lanes towards you but level by level Data Jammers introduces new hazards to dodge, electronic scorpion shaped things with their stingy eye on doing you in through the face, holes in the road (with traffic barriers because even in the future, safety first), traffic cones, pushy zoomy things and all the other things you’re sure to find on the future information superhighway taken way too literally including bosses that amazingly aren’t rubbish like most bosses. Admittedly, they’re not the highlight of the game either but I’ve seen worse.
What strikes me though is that everyone else in the game is in a car or robo-vehicle of some kind and you, the player, are bouncing around this high speed way-too-literal information superhighway in what looks like some sort of rubber ring. I know you’re an elite commando (because videogames) but treating this dangerous, twisty turny future roadway like a swimming lesson? Well now. There’s no need to show off.
who needs boats when you’ve got a rubber ring
Digital Eel are clearly channelling Kenta Cho here and like a lot of Kenta Cho’s earlier videogames, it also feels like the kind of alternative universe arcade game that should have always been but never was.
It’s the same sort of territory that Yak explores in TxK to a large degree albeit less obvious a homage to a specific work. Data Jammers is more the Spy Hunter that came out in a world where vector games didn’t disappear down the plughole and Spy Hunter was made by someone who didn’t make it rubbish and without boats because who needs boats when you’ve got a rubber ring, yeah? And I dunno, there’s something about the ridiculous motorway/data stealing stuff that feels very 2000AD:The Videogame too, which is kinda OK really.
In some ways, it’s another videogame future we forgot to explore and someone finally went “you know, maybe…” a few years too late and in others, it feels like the kind of thing that could only be made in these here modern times. It’s very eighties and very now. I like that.
Whatever. It turns out that riding a twisty turny futuristic motorway in a rubber ring is kinda really cool anyway so I’d recommend Data Jammers just for that alone. That it looks and sounds pretty smart too? Well, that just seals the deal really. Go play it.