06th Mar2018

‘Disc Jam’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Rupert Harvey


Released on Windows and PS4 a year ago and out now on Switch, Disc Jam is a vibrant, solid, playable future sports game which does enough in spite of its gameplay quirks and lack of variety to be recommended for those looking for a fun local or online multiplayer experience.

Let’s get it out of the way: it runs splendidly on Switch. The graphics are crisp, with the Unreal Engine delivering smooth 60fps gameplay in 1080p docked and 720p handheld (the text can be a bit of a strain in handheld mode.) The art design is a bold, garish futurism which makes the game look like a partner piece to Nintendo’s own Arms. The music is fairly bog-standard, riff-inflected electronica, although I found it pleasingly reminiscent of the urgency of much Commodore Amiga music.

The game involves two (or four in Doubles mode) players lobbing a disc over a net in order to slam it into the end zone behind the opponent. Get in the way of the opponent’s shot and you’ll auto-catch, and then you’ve a microsecond to decide whether you try to hurl it straight past, bend it, bounce it off the walls or toss it into no-man’s-land behind the player. Time your return just right for a “Perfect” and the reward is a speedier throw; and you can raise your power bar for a virtually unreturnable super-shot.

In the absence of Windjammers on Switch, this is as close as you’ll get to SNK’s classic. The gameplay has been switched vertical, but other than that we get the same skidding around, flaming power shots, cheeky lobs etc.


There’s also a hint of Rocket League in its bonkers future sports style, as well as in gameplay which is easy to learn but hard to master. This the more immediately accessible game – it’s elaborate Pong, really – but this accessibility also draws attention to its flaws. Simple flinging back and forth is fairly solid, but hit boxes can be frustratingly temperamental: sometimes forgiving; sometimes eyebrow-raisingly off. With Rocket League, being bad at the game is funny, but Disc Jam has you scratching your head as often as it leaves you laughing.

Local play (2-4 players) is the ideal way to play, but there are times when you’ll want advancement as a solo warrior. Put simply, other than Training there is no offline single-player mode. This is an online-only game – either via wi-fi or local console wireless – which may limit its appeal as a portable game.

Once connected, it’s easy to find an online match, thanks in part to cross-platform play with PC. On day one my matches were quick to connect and lag-free. Day two, however, was afflicted by unplayable lag, forcing me to ditch the live matches and venture into the Ghost Arcade.

Ghost Arcade is a neat idea. It purports to take real players’ uploaded play data and use it to produce a unique bot version. How much it emulates the style and skill of a real player is debatable, although each opponent does seem to have their own strengths and weaknesses. When latency-free matchmaking fails, Ghost Arcade is the best way of earning Jamoleons and making progress.


Jamoleons are the currency of Disc Jam. A random prize (AKA loot box) from the Prize Machine costs 1000 “J”. Matches will garner you around 100-200 J depending on how well you do. But J can also be bought for real-world money – 89 pence for 4000, currently. All of the customisation options appear to be cosmetic (skins, colours, poses etc), and raising J is pretty straightforward through normal play, so in terms of monetisation of a game you’ve already paid for, it’s not too pernicious.

Disc Jam is a reasonably fun and well-made arcade experience, and a fine port. The online aspect is highly variable and the lack of variety in game modes is disappointing (the only target practice you’ll have is during the tutorial, and you can forget about tournaments or a campaign). But as long as you know the limitations going in – and the potential joy if you have three buddies to fill the court – it’s a worthwhile purchase.

Disc Jam is out now on Nintendo Switch.


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