Many of you might be familiar with a game called Kan Jam, where you work with your partner to get a flying disc inside a can at the other end of the playing field. If you haven’t played it, you really should. When I first heard about Disc Jam on Nintendo Switch, I thought it was probably a digital version of the real-life game I have enjoyed many times with friends. Yeah, I was wrong… very wrong, in more ways than one.
Disc Jam is, instead, closer to a game of Pong where you can grab the disc for a brief time before throwing it back at your opponent. You can bounce it off the walls or throw it with a slight curve. If you time your catch and release perfectly, you can throw the disc even faster. You can also tip a disc in the air to give you time to power up your throw. Once your power meter is charged up, you can throw your Super Throw, which is one of three special disc throws: The Pythagoras (makes sudden right-angle turns), The Spiral (makes a circular motion), or The Zed (zigs and zags at regular intervals). Each of these, of course, make it harder for your opponent to catch the disc.
The overall idea is incredibly simple, but it becomes more complex when you factor in timing your catches right and throwing the disc in the correct direction to make your opponent miss it. Also, the longer you rally by each person not missing the disc, the amount of points you get goes up. So outlast a long rally of throws, and you will get a ton of points. The first to 50 wins.
Since this game is based on one-on-one or two-on-two matches, you need an opponent. If you choose two-on-two, you also need a real-life teammate, as you cannot team up with a computer player. You can choose to play someone locally on the same system, play the computer, or you can go online to find a match. In all my efforts, I have yet to find a matchup online, even when I chose to find players from any system and skill level, as I am assuming there are not many people playing Disc Jam. Therefore, I cannot address what it is like to play online. I did, however, like how they have an option to play in a Ghost Arcade, which matches you up against computer players built from real world player data. This made me feel more like I was playing others online, but it still wasn’t the same.
Apparently, there are also seasons you can play. They are even advertised on the main menu of the game. It states, “The thresholds to reach each league have been adjusted and your initial seeding for placement matches this season will be based on your skill rating from pre-season.” This sounds great; however, I see no way to join, and the main menu has always just talked about season 1.
All of my experience, therefore, was spent playing the computer or a local opponent. Playing a local player was much more realistic, as I felt like every time I played the computer, they could cheat by knowing where I was about to throw the disc. This initially made me become more competitive, as I really wanted to beat it. But then I eventually just stopped, as there was no way to overcome a computer who saw every input from my controller and knew exactly what to do. I don’t know if this was the case, but it sure seemed like it many times when they knew exactly where to go each time I threw it. I did like that you could play with another Switch owner in local wireless play, but I was unable to try it, as I do not know another Switch owner who has the game.
The graphics are decent, but it could be much better. It’s not bad, but it would have benefited from another round of enhancements. You can still see several “jaggies,” which makes it look like an upscaled Wii game than a full HD game on a new system. Similarly, the music is not bad, but it is never something that I get stuck in my head and find myself humming later in the day. In fact, after playing the game several times, I found the music was quite repetitive.
There are also only six characters to choose, and some of them must be unlocked. They range from all-around to speed to strength-focused, but since there are not many of them, I think most players will end up finding their favorite and just sticking with him or her most of the time. You can, however, change up each characters skins, taunts, victory poses, and more, but in order to do that, you must use one of two in-game currencies. This keeps you coming back for more, but it is interesting that they did not even allow you one other option for free. Nonetheless, each of these customization options are simply cosmetic, so they will not affect your character’s skill level, which made me care even less about them.
The game also has Jamoleons, an in-game currency you can purchase more of from the Nintendo Switch eShop. Jamoleons can be used to buy more characters or in the Prize Machine for a random prize, like a new character skin. I did not buy any, as I did not see a reason to sink any real-life money into this game — for reasons I mentioned above. If I did want to purchase something, I decided to just earn it by playing. I recommend others do the same. The other currency are tickets, and I really don’t know how to get those. I have spent several hours with this game, and I have yet to earn or find a way to earn tickets. So even if I wanted a new taunt, I couldn’t get one unless I bought enough Jamoleons and lucked into getting one in the Prize Machine.
In the end, I had a moderate level of fun with Disc Jam. It’s an interesting concept, for sure, but I found it was limited by poor execution in the graphics, options, and modes. If the seasons actually worked, or if I could find them, that would be great. If there was more of a reason to want upgrades, that would help. If there were tournaments or other features that made local and online play better, that would certainly make it better. Instead, we’re left with just an okay game that will definitely entertain but not very long.
Game Title: Disc Jam
Rating: E for Everyone
Version: Nintendo Switch
Obtained: Code from developers/publishers for press purposes