There a few sure-fire ways to identify a true gem of a multiplayer or endless iOS game. Just ask yourself a few questions: Has it been on your device for more than a month without being deleted? Do you play the game at least a few times each week? Is the game consistently entertaining? Are you still learning and developing your skills? My answer to all of these questions in relation to Disc Drivin’ is not just yes, but a resounding, HELL YES. I’ve had the game installed for over a year, played over a thousand matches, check in almost every day and yet still, after all that time, have never felt bored, nor mastered every element this deceptively simple-looking game has to offer.
Disc Drivin’ is a non-traditional, multiplayer only (2 to 4 players) racing game / digital board game. It actually has more in common with the 1995 release ‘Pitch Car’ (an actual, real life board game) than it does with any modern video game racer. When your turn comes up, simply hold your finger over your disc and slide in the direction you want it to go. The speed and angle of your ‘flick’ will determine the trajectory. You can even put inside and outside spin on the disc, which affects how it takes corners and skips off walls. Matches are first to three laps and take place in one of twenty five unique tracks that float in the sky above a variety of nice looking backdrops, including a forest, desert and ice world. The visuals are pleasing, if not revolutionary, and have a solidity that goes a long way to providing a convincing experience. The sound effects, though minimal, also add to the illusion of physicality. Your disc scrapes across straight-aways, clacks off your opponents like a cue ball, slashes through puddles of water and skids over oil slicks. Environmental hazards, along with ramps, shortcuts, player controlled power-ups and some wonderful physics, all come together for a compelling, never-the-same-thing-twice experience. Even after hundreds of games, I’m constantly surprised by the wild, unexpected things that can occur. Whether your disc ends up underneath an opponent’s, rolls perfectly on edge for a great distance, only to teeter off the side of the track or impossibly crosses the finish line by the smallest of margins, you can’t help but smile. It’s this unpredictability that keeps me coming back day in and day out. No matter how skilled you are or how many games you’ve played, there is always something new to discover.
Let me be clear: when I speak of unpredictability, I do not mean randomness. Disc Drivn’ is a skill-based game. If you plan ahead (using the handy-dandy overhead camera and the replay button, which shows your opponent’s last move), hit the correct angles and time your powers perfectly, your disc will obey your thoughts and commands with precision. The element of unpredictability comes not from poor design, but from your opposition. Once you master the controls, you’re able to focus your attention on your competition and enter the high level meta game – where the game really shines. Don’t be surprised to see an opponent quietly slip past and stop just in front of you, blocking your perfectly calculated next move, place a bomb in an unavoidable location, or jump a tight gap to gain the lead. There are six powers at your disposal: ‘speed’ ‘burst,’ ‘instant stop,’ ‘oil slick,’ ‘bomb,’ ‘ghost,’ and ‘jump.’ Each is quite powerful in the right hands but also counterable; for instance, ‘ghost’ allows you to move through nasty traps and other discs unscathed. You gain access to your choice of power-ups when your power meter fills completely. Using a power drops your meter back to zero, though it is possible to use two or even three power-ups in one turn, which makes you look like a total bad ass (unless you fall of the edge right at the end, which has the opposite effect and nullifies your turn). You gain meter via sliding, jumping and hitting other discs. Hitting an opponent drains some of their meter and knocking them off the side empties it completely. Positioning, powers, meter management and risk/reward all play a huge role in the meta-game. When you start to fully understand how it all works and memorize the intricacies of each track, a masterful game reveals itself. Disc Drivin’ is one of the all time great iOS multiplayer experiences.
What I liked:
Endlessly entertaining, balanced gameplay. Four player asynchronous multiplayer and in-game group chat.
What I’d Fix:
I would love the ability to record replays.
The ‘jump’ power allows for potentially huge, makeshift shortcuts. Always be on the lookout.