There is a reason Data East’s Windjammers is a cult classic. Itself an incredible improvement on the classic Pong, what made it so timeless was how you could test your mettle against your fellow human being. The two man team of ex-Activision staffers who make up high Horse Entertainment clearly understood that purity because Disc Jam is a love letter to both Data East’s Frisbee throwing antics and Midway’s Discs Of Tron.
The Switch release coincides with the game’s biggest update since the initial release on PC and PlayStation 4 with the most prominent new feature being the welcome roster addition of Lannie, a South American volleyball player who joins the otherwise small roster of available choices. You will not be surprised to find that each available character has different stats such as running speed and disc throwing strength, but none too unbalanced to brake the standard singles (1v1) or doubles (2v2) gameplay.
On the subject of gameplay, the tutorial mode does a fine job of explaining you the basics of as well as some advanced tactics on the craft of disc jamming. There are all kinds of subtle trickery you can apply to your disc throws in order to fool your opponents such as curved shoots and charged specials but timing, quick reflexes and the way you received the disc also play a big part of the strategy. A few minutes spent on the tutorials will certainly give you a decent what’s what of the game mechanics and you should definitely use them before jumping online.
The game supports online cross-play with PC players but not PlayStation 4 owners, which is becoming an unfortunate trend that hurts the online communities on both sides of the arena. Making the most out of Switch multiplayer design philosophy means that you can play up to four players on the same console or even have up to four consoles linked up in local LAN mode. This is vital to Disc Jam since it lives or dies by the availability of human opponents and due to the Switch’s unique portable nature you can’t always fully rely on having Internet opponents at any given time.
The game’s performs admirably on the Switch in both docked and portable modes, not surprising since it was built using the Unreal Engine. However, the competent graphic and aural offerings feel somehow sedated considering the fast action going on on the court; this is perhaps because we have been spoiled with Rocket League’s extravagant visuals and excessive over stimulation on all fronts. It is unfair to expect the same level of polish from a two man team, but we feel the game would benefit from a TRON Legacy style neon aesthetics makeover.
Disc Jam neither insults or excels in Switch game’s library and what it does, it does so in solid fashion. It is fast, fun, easy to pick up and hard to master, but as previously stated elsewhere on this review it lives or dies by its community; Will the current install base of Switch users turn Disc Jam into a runaway, enduring online success or the game future will be best remembered for it’s fast paced bouts with your friends on local multiplayer? To this question we do not know the answer and it will be up to the developers to continue to support their product with new features that will keep the game future proof. But the solid foundation for a great competitive eSport is already in place. Pick this up without fear if you know you have friends with whom you'd like to compete. Otherwise you might want to keep a lookout from the sidelines to see how it all plays out.