It was a cool surprise when DotEmu brought the Neo Geo classic WindJammers to consoles back in 2017, especially since it launched with online play that allowed players to face off in epic showdowns. Sure, the game might have come out in 1994 originally, but it certainly aged well and still proved fun to play – and come on, who doesn’t want to beat their pals in manic disc-throwing action? It was deemed popular enough to earn a sequel, and, just like DotEmu’s take on the Streets of Rage series, Windjammers 2 feels like a more modern and stylish take on the game that’s still just as fun to play.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Windjammers 2 is one of those games that’s easy to pick up and play, but very difficult to master. The goal of the game is simple: you face off against rival opponents in one-versus-one action, with each player trying their best to launch a disc into the opposing goal or into an unreachable area. Of course, each player will be doing their best to defend said goal by running and leaping their way across the court, though a stylish array of powerful and tricky disc throws can make defending a tricky task.
Taking advantage of those special shots is imperative to your own attacking success though, with players able to launch in the air to hit a smash shot, lob opponents when they get close to the net, play a slap shot to try and trick them or pull them closer to the net, or even just curling shots that’ll follow the edge of the court or simply swirl from one end of the court to the other. There are a LOT of different options when it comes to your attacking play and it brings a heck of a lot of variety to the experience.
Learning the controls for each one and when exactly you should play them isn’t always easy though, with Windjammers 2 featuring a learning curve that can see players suffering when facing off against experienced foes. The action can be quick-paced and manic with not a lot of time given to react to your opponent’s shots, so you’ve got to be as responsive as possible to try and predict their moves. Of course, you can also force play a little by trying to lure your opponents into traps with smart positional play, but the pace of the back-and-forth action can put a lot of pressure on each player to act quickly.
“No match is ever lacking in excitement and tension, and whilst some may not be as tactical as others, there’s plenty of room for strategical nuance and playing your opponent into traps.”
Players will also fill up their EX-meter as they hit slick shots or make sharp defensive saves, with a full meter allowing them to hit a super shot that brings with it visual pizzazz and a whole lot of power. Whilst it is possible for skilled players to defend these super shots, they typically result in a point for the attacking player, which can be a big help in a tight match. When your opponent does manage to defend it, though? Expect to feel some rage.
Between the variety of shots you can play, the mish-mash of smart offensive and defensive play, and the game-changing EX-meter, there’s a really fun time to be had in Windjammers 2. No match is ever lacking in excitement and tension, and whilst some may not be as tactical as others, there’s plenty of room for strategical nuance and playing your opponent into traps. There’s a definitive difference to be seen between good and bad players, but when you play someone of equal footing to you, it always makes for one brilliant showdown.
Visually, Windjammers 2 looks wonderful, with the cartoon-stylised visuals and vibrant colours certainly popping on the screen and fitting the vibe of the gameplay perfectly. It looks sharp and runs smoothly on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode too, which is always a plus. Each of the ten playable characters are well-designed too with a good mixture of old and new faces (plus they have different stats to vary things up gameplay-wise), whilst the court variety offers plenty of cool places to battle across. The courts themselves can change things up from a gameplay perspective too, whether that’s with certain areas offering more points or simply changing in size to give players more or less room to work with. It certainly looks a whole lot different to the original game, but it’s a style change that feels modern and befitting of the Windjammers name.
“Visually, Windjammers 2 looks wonderful, with the cartoon-stylised visuals and vibrant colours certainly popping on the screen and fitting the vibe of the gameplay perfectly.”
Whilst the core gameplay experience is super slick, Windjammers 2 could feel a little lacking when it comes to game modes. You’ve got the single player mode that sees you working through a variety of areas to take on opponents, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer. Whilst this is technically enough to enjoy the game (and multiplayer is a real blast), it would have been nice to perhaps see a more fleshed-out single player experience just to keep players more involved outside of selecting their opponent. The lack of a proper fleshed-out tutorial is a shame too, especially since it can take some time to properly learn the ins-and-outs of the gameplay. Whilst these sorts of omissions certainly don’t make Windjammers 2 a bad game nor do they affect the core experience, it would’ve been nice to have had them.
But hey, I imagine the game will have a strong online community, so I expect Windjammers 2 to keep players coming back for more either way. My experience online has been pretty slick so far too, and whilst I’ll admit I’ve had a few beatings, there have also been some tense back-and-forth showdowns that could have gone either way and kept me coming back for ‘one more game’. It’s really, REALLY addictive, whilst the convenience of playing on the go with my Nintendo Switch means that it has quickly become my go-to game for quick bursts of action.
Windjammers 2 Review
Windjammers 2 is super addictive, with its slick blend of frantic and strategic action ensuring no showdown ever feels boring. It looks the part too, with the stylish visuals and varied arenas making sure the game is packing plenty of punch when it comes to the looks department. It’s just a lot of fun to play, especially in multiplayer where the action can feel really frantic and non-stop.
It was a little disappointing that the single player mode wasn’t a bit more fleshed out, and I really do think the game would’ve benefitted from a proper tutorial that goes through the ins-and-outs of the gameplay. But still, whilst these omissions are a shame, they don’t stop Windjammers 2 from being a fresh and enthralling take on the classic formula of the original.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC