You ever play one of those games that offers incredible fun and competitive gameplay? (I’m leaving out Rocket League as an example because half the internet is using that comparison.) Well, that feeling can be felt in bunches with High Horse Entertainment’s Disc Jam. Additionally, tennis, hockey, and volleyball fans will absolutely get a kick out of this title. Let me explain.
Disc Jam is essentially a tennis/air hockey hybrid. One or two players are on each side of a net and have to hurl a disc past the other gamers on the other side of the net. If you do then a goal is scored and points are rewarded on how many volleys there were. Also, the disc blows up and anyone alongside it will get sent flying. Fairly simple yea? Of course, your opponents won’t just let you go ahead and score. They’ll position themselves to catch your throws, run around, and send them right back. How hard they do so is dependent on how quickly they released the disc and what direction they aimed it at.
There’s a circle surrounding every person’s feet and once someone catch’s the game disc, the meter within the shape will start to deplete. The sooner you get off your toss, the more oomph you’ll get. Naturally, an object flying faster is harder to catch or block. Do this enough times consecutively and the pitch will get really speedy. Also, you can tilt the left analog stick in any way as you push X or L2/R2 to throw. This will obviously select the disc’s direction. But that’s not all the L3 button can do. Instead of just tilting it in a direction, you can move it in in semicircles. This will cause your hurl to gain momentum and curve. So what started out going left, can easily end up on the right side of the field. There’s also a lob option which tosses the disc high up in the air with a slow descent. If your opponent(s) are out of position and you timed it right, they won’t be able to recover and catch it. Furthermore, it should be assumed that the walls surrounding the field can be used for redirects and misleading bounces as well.
Now that we got the basics and core gameplay of Disc Jam down, let’s talk about more advanced techniques. Surprisingly the game’s training modes don’t tell you about a pass option. If you’re playing with a partner, pushing circle will deliver a somewhat slow pass. However, this ability can catch a lot more people off guard then you think. Especially if you passed it right to someone in front of the net. Thankfully, there is a counter if you position yourself right. Holding X will form a shield that the disc bounces off of. One of two things will then happen. If you’re close to the net, it will harmless flop to the other side. Think of it like a spike in volleyball. If you’re away from the divider, it will pop up into the air and the player that blocked it will have to regrab it. When you can time this right a super throw will be available and that unleashes a devastating toss. The throw will be incredibly fast, be covered in fire, and follow a pattern depending on what you had equipped. Lastly, there’s a slide button that’s pretty self-explanatory.
So that is the sport of Disc Jam. A tennis court with hockey and volleyball rules but with increasing point variables. Each team has to get to fifty in a best of three match. The point divvies are decided by two factors. One, if you score on the first serve (or ace) you get ten points added to your team’s scoreboard. Two, however many volleys there were (how many times the disc exchanged possession over the net) plus five will be the number added to your score. So if both teams touched it a total of five times, the players that would score receive ten points. Don’t worry about keeping track either. The middle of the game net provides this number for you. All of this comes together in an unbelievably fun way. Things can get really hectic, fast, competitive, and all in less than ten minutes most of the time. Yea, consider your addiction fulfilled. Sports fans will undeniably find something to like here.
OK, I believe I did a satisfactory job explaining the rules of a made up sport. Time to describe what is built around this and unfortunately, there isn’t that much at the moment. As I mentioned there’s two training modes, but the only other singleplayer experience is free play and that equates to throwing the titular disc against a wall by yourself. There are offline modes in the way of of 1v1 or 2v2 splitscreen though. Online is more or less of the same. Multiplayer matches are hosted in 1v1 or 2v2 formats in both public and private matches. It holds together well and offers plenty of fun, sport-like moments. Sadly, that’s all there is in the way of structured material. Luckily, it’s made up by way of some prime customization options.
First and foremost, the four different characters to control. You have the body builder Stanton, who is lacking in speed but excels in power, Makenna, the fast boxer who can throw some wild curveballs, Haruka, who is more or less a goddamn ninja playing this sport, and Gator, the all-around stat wise choice. Each of them play to their abilities well and I believe most gamers will find their niche in whatever playstyle suits them. Their customizable appearance and playercards are where the real enjoyment is at. Emblems, player tags, skins, taunts, victory poses, discs, and super throws are all interchangeable once you unlock them. Some areas have a better selection than others, but mostly every choice has flashier and flashier options. Like my lovable Stanton painted in solid gold or G.O.A.T. spelled in fire. Turns out as you play matches, you earn money. Every time you reach 1000Js (the in-game currency), you can take a pull on the prize machine. This nifty bugger will pop out a case that explodes open and reveals your next unlockable.
Regrettably, this insanely fun sports mashup is missing something major for such a game. There are no stats for you to view anywhere. No tracks of wins, losses, goals scored, saves made, etc. Something that is seriously needed in a title such as this. Then there was the overall lack of game modes. Don’t get me wrong as this game can be played for straight hours, it’s just that only having 1v1 or 2v2 online will get old after a few months. Also, there’s no ranked playlists yet either. Mercifully, the developers and some volunteers are currently rectifying this by holding daily/weekly tournaments over on Disc Jam’s Discord server. Still, the aforementioned issues really need fixes or new content down the line.
Athletes in general will find something to love with Disc Jam. The gameplay and controls are marvelously well designed that will bring out the competitive spirit and sport adoration in any fan. Matches are relatively short, intense, and bring what many arcade experiences fail at. Just something about throwing a metal disc is so much fun. Nevertheless, that doesn't excuse only having two online game modes and a lack of stat keeping. It's a good thing that a team is throwing tournaments so often. In the end though, as a PlayStation Plus title we could have gotten worse. If you enjoy sports definitely download this game.
Review Disclaimer: This review was conducted using a PS4 digital copy that was bought at the expense of the reviewer. This does not affect the content of the review or the final score awarded. For more information, please read our Review Policy.