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What do happen if you combined volleyball, ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, and strap explosives to everything? An army of lawyers out to sue the pants off you, that's what.
Oh, and you'd also have Disc Jam.
Disc Jam is an arcade sports title that's easy to learn and a lot of fun to play. The unholy combination of sports I listed above really is the best way to describe Disc Jam. You play in a rectangular court that's divided down the middle. You throw a frisbee (oh, I'm sorry, disc) back and forth and score points by throwing it through your opponent's goal line or getting them to fumble the disc. You can bounce the disc off of walls, do curve shots, or throw it straight up in the air to force your opponent to catch it. If your opponent throws it out of your reach, you have a handy slide that can carry you almost all the way across the court. Once a point is scored, the disc FREAKING EXPLODES, blowing your opponent out of the arena if they're standing too close. As awesome as that is, it has absolutely no effect on how the matches play out. One might argue that having an injury system could help to make the game more deep, but this is an arcade sports game. It's not supposed to be deep, it's supposed to be fast.
You also have a shield you can use to essentially spike the disc directly back over the net. The match ends when one player reaches fifty points, which sounds like it would take a while but doesn't since the game likes to award 10+ points for every goal or fumble. Sometimes it would give more, sometimes less, and I'll admit I couldn't quite figure out what influenced them.
There are four people you can play as. A normal, all around athlete, a ninja who's speedy but doesn't throw very hard, a muscle man who's slow but can throw hard, and a lady who the game claims "is very technical and can throw curve shots (wait, can't everyone do that?). I stuck mostly with everyman guy, since his skills can be applied all over the game.
You can pull off fancy trick shots by "adjusting your aim" after catching the disc, but they're so difficult that you're just as well off ignoring them entirely. Don't worry, your opponents won't use them either. "Super shots" are also also available, and you charge them by standing underneath a falling disc long enough for a meter to charge. These can either be used to unleash a super fast (and super easy to block) straight forward shot, or a zigzagging shot that's almost guaranteed to score a goal. Most matches will be bouts of normal throws, tosses, and catches.
Everything is not perfect, though. One problem I have with the game is the shield. I hardly ever used it. Sure, sometimes you'll have the chance to spike the disc, but your best move is usually to stay toward the middle or back of the arena so you'll have more time to react to your opponent's throws and catch them. If they had left the shield out entirely, I probably wouldn't have even noticed. The problem stems from the fact that the shield button is the same button you use to throw the disc. Disc Jam has a feature that, the faster you get rid of the disk after catching it, the harder the throw will be. Apart from missing my opponent's shots, this was my biggest failing in the game. Naturally you always want to throw the disc as hard as you can, but if you hit the button just a nanosecond too soon you'll activate your shield instead and bounce the disc right off you. This will, more often than not, result in you fumbling the disc and your opponent scoring. If the developers insist that we need the shield in the game, that's fine. But the game only uses two face buttons: X and Square. Why not assign this to another button?
Games can either be played either 1v1 or 2v2, but since I never felt like I could fully rely on my teammates I stuck mainly to 1v1. Disc Jam is a multiplayer game through and through. There's no single player at all, except for the tutorial that doesn't even allow you to play a practice game. While there is a splitscreen option, my entire experience was online (a sad byproduct of having no friends). And for what it is, it works pretty great. The online gameplay was almost flawless... almost. Lag does pop up occasionally, and you'll definitely notice it when it does. I would throw the disc, and then celebrate as it CLEARLY went into my opponent's goal. Rather than exploding and starting the next round, though, it would hang there a couple of seconds-- and then suddenly it would be back on my side, my opponent would be somewhere entirely different, and they'd score a point before I even had a chance to move. Admittedly, this only happened a couple of times, but they did happen, and you have no idea how infuriating it is to essentially just hand your opponent free points because the game screwed up. But, again, it happened so rarely that I could usually just shrug it off and challenge them to a rematch. That's a testament to how fun Disc Jam is: I enjoyed it so much when it works that I can forgive it when it doesn't.
Disc Jam is a game that knows exactly what it wants to be: a shallow, fast paced, easy to learn multiplayer sports game, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you prefer your sports game to have strategies and statistics, go play Madden or The Show. If you want a single player campaign or a fantasy tournament, you won't find it here. If you don't have any friends close to you and dislike playing online, this definitely isn't the game for you. If you're just looking to jump in, play a few matches on the internet, and have some crazy stupid fun, you'll probably enjoy Disc Jam just as much as I did. It won't hold up well against a AAA title like Rocket League, but that doesn't mean there's not still a ton of fun to be had.
Also, I got Disc Jam for free because of the PS+ deal. If you're reading this and it's still March, you can get it for free too! If not... sorry.
I give Disc Jam for the PS4 an 7.5/10!
Author AND a gamer! Read my books for free here: http://www.bolanderbooks.com/
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