After a brief beta period, Disc Jam has now launched on PS4 as one of March's PlayStation Plus titles. However, is it worth adding to your instant game collection?
If you already read our preview of Disc Jam, you'll know that it's a frantic combination of air hockey and tennis with a load of powerful special moves to boot. The aim is simple: Throw your disc past your opponent(s) or get it to land on their side of the court to score points. The longer a rally goes on, the more points are at stake. The first to fifty points wins the round. Win two rounds and you win the match. It sounds pretty simple and it is but that's okay because Disc Jam is a load of fun and very addictive.
Disc Jam's appeal comes from its super-fast gameplay which is full of outrageous shots, last-ditch saves and nail-biting rallies. Matches are short but full of action. With so little downtime, each one feels like a blast and there's always that urge to have just one more match when you're done.
This makes Disc Jam easy to pick up and play but its advanced techniques ensure that you'll have to invest a lot more time to master it. These techniques include changing the path of your shots, tapping a button just as you receive the disc in order to return it faster, and blocking shots with your shield which (if charged up fully) lets you pull off a powerful super throw. Some of these skills are easier to perform than others and can be very tricky to get right in the heat of the moment.
Other simpler moves like passing to your teammate and the lob and curl shots add more variety. Put together, they ensure that matches can be just as much about strategy as lightning-fast reflexes. The controls aren't perfect, however. Curving your shot with the analogue stick can feel awkward and doesn't always work the way it should. Sometimes, the game flat-out doesn't seem to respond to button presses. Also, when playing against one opponent, the lob move can feel a bit too easy to score points with as making the disc land just over the top of the net is often impossible for them to reach in time.
You can play Disc Jam in either singles or doubles modes. Personally, I find doubles much more fun as four players at once makes for an unpredictable and exciting dynamic. There's also an offline two-player mode but for some reason, it's only available in split-screen even though you're both visible on the same screen anyway. Unfortunately, there's no single-player component and Disc Jam's dearth of modes and features means there's very little variety available. There are only four characters to choose from and just one arena. The characters have slightly different attributes. However, choosing which one to play as essentially comes down to whether you want faster mobility or more power in your shots.
I have to give High Horse (the developers) some slack here because they're only a two-man team so it's unrealistic to expect a glut of features but even so, what's here feels very barebones. Whatever the case, they still need to address some of the matchmaking and connection issues. It can often take a long time to find a match even though Disc Jam has just come out to a huge user base on PlayStation Plus. Also, I sometimes got disconnected from the servers after finishing the match with no way to reconnect other than restarting the game. There's quite a bit of lag to deal with, too, in spite of this being greatly improved with the latest patch.
Despite its paucity of modes, Disc Jam is still incredibly addictive and fun to play. High Horse are promising additional features in the future including characters and arenas so here's hoping they turn Disc Jam into the more complete product that its gameplay deserves.
- + Addictive "just one more go" gameplay
- + Easy to pick up and play yet its advanced techniques make it difficult to master
- + Requires strategy as well as quick reflexes
- - Lack of modes and features
- - Performing some moves is often hit and miss
- - Connection and matchmaking issues