Thank you Chequered Cow Games for sending us a copy of the game!
Power Disc Slam from Chequered Cow Games can be considered a spiritual successor to the Neo Geo classic Windjammers. With its unique premise of combining tennis with a Frisbee, PDS provides a fresh twist on these games.
Power Disc Slam starts with a lengthy tutorial when first loading up the game. You are taught the basics and how the controls are set up. This unfortunately is where I hit my first problem. The game wants you to arc the disc by sliding the control pad in a way that never seemed to register and ended up throwing the disc normally. I struggled with the beginning tutorial for nearly 30 minutes before finally getting lucky and having the controls register properly. Outside of this, once you finish the tutorial you can start playing for real.
You serve the disc like in tennis and your opponent will attempt to stop it from hitting the wall behind them which acts as the goal zone. Upon throwing the disc back at you, you must press the 'A' button to flip it into the air. Standing beneath it will charge your character up and by pressing 'A' again before the disc hits your character you can activate a power shot. Otherwise, standing in front of your opponent's throw will automatically grab the disc from the air. For some odd reason the slide action is also mapped to the 'A' button by default. Thankfully an update added in new control schemes and it can now be used by pressing the 'X' button which previously had went unused.
There are different modes that can be selected from the main menu and are separated into single player and multiplayer. From the single player menu you can choose between Arcade, Free Play, Cup, Survival, and Mini Games. I was unable to experience the multiplayer aspect for myself, but I can guarantee this game would be more fun to play against another human rather than just the A.I.
Arcade is the standard pick up and play mode. You choose from one of eight characters and then a random opponent and court is selected. You can also choose from one of four difficulties, but due to a programming oversight the A.I. is actually designed to always be incredibly difficult or very easy no matter which difficulty level is selected. Once that's out of the way it's on to the court to slam some discs! In Arcade you must score 15 points before your opponent. The goal zone on certain courts may have red and yellow areas to aim for, but some will be a single solid color. The yellow zone is worth 3 points and the red worth 5. If you beat your opponent you simply move on to a new opponent and a different court. Depending on how well you grasp the controls you will either put up a decent fight or lose right away.
Free Play eliminates the randomness from match setups and allows you to choose which opponent to go up against and the court to play on. You can also increase the match lengths and points needed to win making this a great mode to practice on. It's also a great way to better familiarize yourself with the different courts.
Cup is basically a tournament made up of 7 rounds. 2 players face off and the winner moves on to face the winners of the other rounds. You start in the novice rank and by besting it can move up the ranks. Due to the highly unforgiving A.I. it's safe to say that things must get incredibly frustrating once Master mode is unlocked.
The next mode is Survival and is fairly similar to Arcade. You choose a character and must face off against the other seven characters on a single court one after another. This became my favorite mode simply because the court didn't change between opponents. Once 15 points are made the next opponent comes out and you repeat.
Last up are the mini games, of which there are six. These all play very differently to the main game. Score Challenge simply has you trying to score as many points as possible in a time limit by throwing discs through rings. Moving Targets has you trying to hit moving targets to get a high score. This one expected precise controls, but that wasn't happening from me. Avoid and Score has you avoiding being hit by discs shot at you and you must throw them back through rings to score points. This one also demands precise controls. Disc Block Bash is basically Breakout but much more difficult to get the hang of. Run and Collect has you running around the court grabbing fruits and avoiding discs being shot at you. This is actually my favorite mini game simply because you don't have to return the discs to get points. Rally Challenge has you rallying against an opponent to toss the disc through small rings. This one was fairly boring to me because you have to wait for the opponent to throw the disc back. Each mini game also has anywhere from eight to twelve additional levels to choose from. Level 1 will be easy and allow you to understand what you're doing whereas the higher levels will challenge you substantially more.
Graphically, Power Disc Slam is a decent looking game. Character models are extremely jaggy and polygonal which comes off as low quality, but seeing as the Chequered Cow staff consists of only one guy, they aren't really too bad. The court designs are varied and each look great. There's also some pumping music to be heard and I enjoyed it as I played the game.
Power Disc Slam isn't for everyone, and even for those it's meant for the controls may turn you away. I highly advise anyone interested in the game to practice in Free Play to better understand how the game works. With the amount of content packed in it's really hard not to recommend just to try it out. There's a whole lot worse out there in the eShop carrying the same $5 price tag.