Disc Jam – Pong Revolutionized

It’s extreme frisbee, it’s Pong revolutionized, it’s air hockey all in one, played on an entirely different atmosphere and pace. Disc Jam, the 2017 title courtesy of High Horse Entertainment, is an arcade game of air hockey combined with tennis.  

It’s extreme frisbee, it’s Pong revolutionized, it’s air hockey all in one, played on an entirely different atmosphere and pace. Disc Jam, the 2017 title courtesy of High Horse Entertainment, is an arcade game of air hockey combined with tennis.  

The two-man team consisting of Jay Mattis and Timothy Rapp are known for their art, animation and engineering, expertise that could very well separate good games from great ones. Disc Jam, although small in content, packs quite a punch with addicting combos and versatile characters. 

Fixed at a third-person perspective, with a long vertical camera angle to boot, players must continuously rally a disc, or a frisbee if you prefer, between one or two other players. The goal is similar to tennis but, of course, with a few twists and turns.

On your mark

Players must try to score on the opposing side by either launching the disc all the way to the end zone or by lobbying it on the ground. This, in turn, means that all players must do everything they possibly can to keep the disc afloat and out of harm’s way. Mere child’s play in concept, for sure, but extremely hard to execute.

The game is meant for casual gamers and those who instantly want to pick up a title without the hassle of learning all the mechanics. With that being said, however, the level of play can rise significantly when given a decent amount of time to practice angles and learn the character’s tendency.

Players have a variety of different throws including spin shots, curve shots, alleys and bankers. The many ways a rally can unfold can lead to intense, palm sweat-inducing plays which may leave users in sudden awe, disbelief, excitement and even frustration. The sheer joy of coming back and winning from a 40 point deficit, or continuously tricking the opponent with your web of cradle shots should be enough to keep the majority of the game’s population intact and eager to play.  

Although unpredictability is a staple and ongoing theme most sports genre games have, there was one noticeable flaw that deterred some players from Disc Jam. In its early stages, Disc Jam, understandably so, offered a slim cast of four characters to choose and control from. As you may have guessed, each of those characters possesses different attributes that tend to certain playstyles, which is an absolute must-have to maintain balanced matchups. The game has since added the heavy-set Kahuna and Lannie, the all-arounder.

All in the wrist

The disc is enveloped in a spiral of purple pixels, an indication that a quick throw is coming your way. Almost as if it were a glitch in the game’s mechanics, the disc travels so quickly, bouncing every which way before it reaches its destination—your end zone. Tracking the disc is one thing, but to move your character accordingly is a challenging yet rewarding task. The only hope for players on the receiving end of a purple throw is to anticipate which side of the court the disc will land ahead of time, in other words, calculate how the disc will bounce off the sides.

Guessing as the sole option is not in Disc Jam’s best interest, especially when it’s aimed to be a balanced sports game. Fortunately for the studio, the game actively listens to the feedback from their players, allowing the developers to make the necessary adjustments before users protest with pitchforks and signs. 

All roads lead north

As mentioned before, Disc Jam is, more or less, catered towards casual gamers and perhaps even for mobile fans as well. The vibrant colour schemes and an assortment of wacky characters to choose from strikes a similar resemblance to the looks of Fortnite and Rocket League.

However, unlike those aforementioned titles, Disc Jam, will probably be reserved to just couch play. With laggy servers and a player base that is shrinking exponentially, It’s safe to say Disc Jam will not be a staple game in households worldwide, heck not even in North America. 

On the bright side, the game is rather young and the developers are still pushing out new content even today. Their latest update was the introduction of instant replays from various different angles and enabled LAN tournaments.

High Horse Entertainment has the privilege that big-name studio companies have lost years ago, and that is interacting with their player base on a personal level. The studio receives tons of feedback from their players through Twitter and Discord primarily. Users have the opportunity to express genuine changes or quality of life improvements to one of the developers actively available throughout the community. It is a grassroots type of relationship that gamers and developers should appreciate before it’s gone.

The game definitely needs some touch ups here and there, but nothing that screams out like total bust. As the game continues to mature, the rest of the community can rest easy knowing Mattis and Rapp are still involved in the project.

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Wrence

Wrence Trinidad is a current Bachelor of Journalism student at Toronto's Humber College. His favourite genre is slice-of-life and comedy but is willing to watch anything that even remotely resembles Japanese animation. He hopes to provide different perspectives on certain shows and to spark friendly discussions amongst fans of all geek culture. His username on MAL, AniList and Kitsu is surprisingly just his first name, Wrence.

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