What do you get when two former Call of Duty developers create a competitive sport league? You get something akin air hockey with lasers or tennis with explosions… and I can’t say that I’m mad about that! This is our review of Disc Jam for the Nintendo Switch.
Like a number of titles migrating to the Switch’s indie hits parade, Disc Jam had previously been released on PC and PS4 in 2017 with great success. After spending some time with the game, it’s not hard to understand why!
Disc Jam has wacky roster of characters, it’s matches are high paced, and even losing can give you the satisfaction of watching your character rag doll across the playing field from the Michael Bay-levels of explosives packed into every disc!
So, what is Disc Jam?
The best way that I can describe it is this: Disc Jam combines rules and the court from tennis, the pacing from air hockey, and a Frisbee disc and mashes them up into a best-two-out-of-three game set. A match is won when one play reaches 50 points or greater. Points build as players volley back and forth, starting from five point. They are then scored when the disc makes it to the opposite side of the court without being blocked or if the disc lands on the court without being caught. Extra points are awarded for blowing your opponent up or for scoring on the initial serve.
Matches are played as either singles or doubles and can either be played locally or online. Online matches are currently in a pre-season state with a ranked league preparing to launch into its first season with cross platform play. If this type of competition isn’t your jam, there is also a mode called Ghost Arcade which matches you against AI built from collecting real-world player data.
If you are looking more for couch-based competition or cooperation, you have the option to play offline. In the local play mode, you can play splitscreen or host a wireless matchup on your local network. This is one place where the Switch shines as the console for this game!
As far as the actual gameplay goes, the formula is fairly simple. However, your style of play can be nuanced. While there are basic methods of throwing a disc, such as curved throws or directional bounces, there are also more complex moves involving thumbtack rotations. These moves put spin on the disc, causing it to bounce more erratically than a standard toss. You can also lob the disc onto the other side of the court. If it lands without being caught, it will explode and you will profit! Add in blocking, sliding, and super returns – an ability executed by charging one of the throw buttons and catching the disc – and you have a formula for some pretty zany matches.
Speaking of zany, let’s talk about the character roster for a minute. Disc Jam has six playable characters, each with their unique advantages and disadvantages. Stanton, Disc Jam’s musclebound mascot, is an explosive thrower and fast slider, but is a slow mover. Makenna looks like she’s fresh out of a roller derby rink. She is a more technical thrower, but not very powerful. Haruka is literally a ninja; she is incredibly fast but her throws are lighter. Then, there is Lannie, an athletic gal, and Gator, a mustachioed man from somewhere between the Bayou and the Brickyard. Both are good all-around competitors, but without any standout advantage. This leaves Kahuna: the Polynesian Powerhouse. Kahuna is not very agile, but he has the hardest throw in the game.
Each of these characters have customizable colors and poses that can be unlocked as you play. This is where we get into Disc Jam’s less-than-savory side. As you play matches, you earn the game’s currency: Jamoleons. Jamoleons are used in the Prize Machine to unlock cosmetic items, poses, taunts, and profile portraits. Each round with the prize machine will cost you 1000 Jamoleons for one prize. Unfortunately, the rate at which you gain this currency is rather slow. The “solve” for this problem is that the currency can be purchased in the Nintendo shop. The conversion rate for USD to Jamoleons is $.99 for 4000, $4.99 for 25,000, $9.99 for 60,000 and $19.99 and 130,000. This decision sours the Disc Jam experience with unnecessary microtransactions.
If you do happen to spend money on Jamoleons or find yourself with a double, you are rewarded with red tickets instead. These tickets can be used within the customization menus to purchase the desired cosmetic item. The amount of red tickets returned will be comparable to the rarity to the item.
With a buy-in of $14.99, Disc Jam presents an entertaining and challenging competitive sports game in the same vein as Rocket League. While it has an easy point of entry, it takes a while to full master. The action is intense and games can just as easily be turned over if the throws are right. The microtransactions do muddy the waters a bit, but if you don’t mind waiting for those cosmetic rewards, they won’t impact your enjoyment of the game. If you are looking to get into a new competitive e-sport exploding onto the scene or if you’re looking to have some fresh and friendly couch competition, Disc Jam just may be worth looking into.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Rocket League, WindJammers
OVERALL SCORE: 8/10
- Easy points of entry, cost- and skill-wise
- Intense action with quick match turnaround
- The Prize Machine gives ticket upon doubles
- Slow Jamoleon gain makes microtransactions more tempting for completionists
- Play against AI requires an internet connection