Review: Disc Jam | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Review: Disc Jam

James Law gets his tennis shoes on to play Disc Jam: a Switch game that succeeds in its simplicity yet fails to crank up the pressure.

Disc Jam is a multiplayer, head-to-head disc tennis game. It’s exactly what you think it is. It has been released on the Nintendo Switch, and since I am way too obsessed with the Switch and everything it does, I thought I’d check it out. I had played the PS4 version before, so I was interested to get back into it and find out if it’s actually any good.

Disc Jam strikes a great balance between being intuitive to play, but a monster to master

I hadn’t played much of the PS4 version, and it had been a while too. I was basically a newbie, I’d forgotten everything about it. This brings me to the thing I enjoy most about Disc Jam, which is how easy it is to learn. The concept is easy enough to get to grips with: get the disc past the opposing player. Points increase with longer rallies. First to 50 wins the round. The controls are simple too – you can run, throw, curve your throws, and slide for a bit of extra reach. After the initial tutorial, you’re pretty much ready to go play online.

Disc Jam gameplay

I started winning loads! ‘This is easy’, I thought to myself. ‘Everyone on Disc Jam is a big ol chump’. Then, the game cottoned on to the fact that I was getting cocky, placed me against opponents who knew what they were doing, and suddenly I was hitting a wall. This is where I learned by playing the game. It’s all very well knowing the controls, but Disc Jam strikes a great balance between being intuitive to play, but a monster to master. The more I played, the better I got. I learned tricks from my opponents, widened my arsenal of moves, attempted to taunt whenever possible. I worked out how to play at the net, from the baseline, bounce the disc off the walls to the best effect, release the disc at the perfect time for maximum power and more. I really enjoy this in a game – the feeling of progression when playing – and I was always improving. Even when I lost, I got a bit of insight into different playstyles and the like. There’s not a shortage of matches to play either, as you can play cross-platform with players on PS4 and Windows, which the Switch is able to match graphically in this title (at least to my non-technical eye).

So there we go. The game itself is simple, fun, and challenging. At its core, Disc Jam is really good. I would be remiss not to mention the gripes I had with it though.

When I lost, it was just a ‘meh’ moment, instead of being heart-racing, intense action

Despite the constant feeling of progression, there is little reason to keep coming back to Disc Jam after you’ve had a fair number of matches. There is something of a ranking system, but there is very little pressure felt when playing. There isn’t really a compelling league progression system like you see in sports games like FIFA, and your rank doesn’t present itself front and centre like in popular online games like Overwatch and Rocket League. When I lost, it was just a ‘meh’ moment, instead of being heart-racing, intense action. The only times I felt anything close to this whilst playing was for the wrong reasons. I had a not insignifcant number of connection issues and lag, which often booted myself or my opponent out of the game before it even began or turned good rallies into frustrating fumbles and undeserved points. This wasn’t super common, but it’s worth stating that I have had these issues on Disc Jam more than on other online Switch games, including ARMS and FIFA.

Disc Jam gameplay

As much as I enjoy the premise and gameplay of Disc Jam, I struggle to recommend this version. It just didn’t quite have enough to keep me entertained, and at full price, it isn't quite deep enough to be worth it. I’ll absolutely dust it off and come back to it every so often, but I can’t see it being a regular taker of my playing time in the future.

 

Correction: This article has been amended to correct a previous version which stated that Disc Jam does not have a single player offline mode. 

smooth, like ice, cold to the touch and it isn't very nice (@jamesmaclaw)



Published

2nd May 2018 at 9:00 am

Last Updated

3rd May 2018 at 12:40 pm



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