Today is the day, Windjammers 2 is finally out on consoles and PC.
The original Windjammers disc-throwing arcade sports game was released for the NEO GEO in 1994 (almost 30 years ago). The game was an arcade classic which combined sports and fighting games. In Windjammers, two athletes battled it out throwing discs at each other attempting to score points.
Windjammers is basically Pong or Air Hockey, dressed up a bit with two athletes, a court, beach or some sort of arena, more mobility, and different ways to score points. The game makes me think of some other sports too — Beach Volleyball, Slow Tennis, Dodgeball, Wrestling. It sort of feels like a future Olympic sport.
DOTEMU (Est. 2007)
Over the past few years, French Game Studio and Publisher Dotemu has become well-known for bringing back popular retro franchises through remakes, remasters and brand new updated releases — games like Streets of Rage 4, Double Dragon Trilogy, and the upcoming TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge.
Dotemu’s ultimate goal, which I totally endorse, is “to give every gamer access to yesteryear’s classic video games on today’s platforms.” They continue to do so in creative ways. It’s not only great for older gamers who grew up playing these originals. It’s also great to give newer gamers that experience for the first time.
After first remaking the original Windjammers game for current consoles and PC, Dotemu got the chance to create a brand new sequel, Windjammers 2.
This past week I watched a short documentary that went into detail on the making of Windjammers 2. Not too many newer studios gain the ability to work on a new version of some other studios IP (intellectual property).
The Dotemu team had the chance to “figure out” how the original developers created the classic Windjammers game. They were able to look through old code, documents, even hand drawings. They even gained access to some of the original creators themselves, which allowed them to create something new that captured the spirit of the original game.
You can watch the short “Making of” documentary right here.
Windjammers 2 • The Review
Now, let’s talk about the game itself. I want to start off by saying that Windjammers 2 is quite a simple game in that there’s only one thing to do and that is “to Windjam” — if that’s even the proper term for playing this made up sport.
There are three modes of play — Arcade, where you battle your way through the competition, and two multiplayer modes, Online (featuring ranked and quick play matches) and Versus (for local multiplayer).
Here’s a quick “How to Play” video tutorial:
When an older title or franchise gets the remake or sequel treatment years later, I’m always looking for something that gives you the same feeling of playing the classic game, while adding some of today’s tech and features.
For instance, while playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, I got the same feeling as playing the original Tony Hawk games as a kid. However, if I went back to the original PlayStation version I’m sure I would notice the huge differences.
Although I’ve never played the original Windjammers (1994), Windjammers 2 captures both the retro and new arcade-style of gameplay. It’s got that classic arcade one-on-one action sports flavor, while also playing like an updated version of the original. The animation style looks like an old school cartoon and something from today all at the same time.
Stages and Rounds
Although the gameplay can become a bit repetitive, like in any sports game (real and make believe), there are some things that make each stage stand out just enough. Each stage features its own unique scoring system, layout and rules.
In certain stages you’ll find obstacles in the middle of the court, which may or may not move when hit with the disc. Some stages give two points for a miss, while others give four or even five.
The Arcade mode features five total rounds with two bonus rounds. There’s also some bonus stages along the journey, including the Bonus Disc Attack and the Dog Jam. The Casino’s discs are numbered showing the amount of points they are worth.
Windjammers 2 features a total of ten characters to choose from. The original 1994 Windjammers had a cast of six, which are mostly present in the sequel. The total roster is made up of five of the original characters and five brand new characters.
There are only two player stats that matter when it comes to Windjamming and those are Speed and Power. Each character falls somewhere on the Speed vs Power meter. Even with only two metrics for choosing a character they are all slightly different. In the end you are looking to go for Power, Speed or someone who is more Balanced.
At first, I found myself looking for Quick and Speedy Windjammers, but my best matches were played with the Canadian H-Max, a Power Player. I even beat the Arcade mode (on Easy) with him.
Even though the players catch the disc and have a quick moment to calculate their next move, this is still a fast-paced sport. Once I became accustomed to the moveset, the different types of disc throwing (throw, lob, drop shot, slap shot, power move) and the sliding and jumping I became a better Windjammer.
Charging became especially helpful, which is when you toss the disc into the air off of your opponent’s shot before standing underneath and charging up for your next shot. I really recommend watching the “how to play” video above and/or looking through the “how to play” tab in the main menu. Both of these will make you a much better Windjammer.
It’s cool that Windjammers 2 features both single player (Arcade mode) and multiplayer (local and online) modes, but I would love to see some more, especially in the single player category. In just a few hours I beat Arcade mode (on Easy), but the Arcade mode is meant to be played over and over with different characters.
Even though the Arcade mode is short, it would be nice to be able to save your progress and come back to it later, instead of having to beat it in one quick playthrough. I would even enjoy a Season mode where you have to beat everyone, or even replay some characters in different stages along the way.
Earlier, I mentioned enjoying the bonus games within Arcade mode. It would be nice to be able to access these on their own through the main menu. New Windjammers 2 Mini Games can even be added at some point. A 2v2 might also be a nice addition, although I can see that getting too busy with too many players on the court.
While making my way through Arcade mode, I kept on gaining points after each match. I didn’t see a reason for these points though. There is no place to spend or keep track of your points. I don’t normally care about my high scores, but in an arcade-style game like this there should be some Arcade score display board.
Dotemu has done a wonderful job with bringing back the Windjammers franchise (first with the remake and now Windjammers 2). I believe that remaking the original Windjammers allowed them to get a look at the development side of the game and decide what to fix, change and keep for a modern sequel.
Although I’ve enjoyed playing through the Arcade mode in Windjammers 2, I don’t see myself playing through it over and over again. I do however see this as a fun multiplayer game. I’m excited to try out the Online mode this week once it’s available and people are online looking for matches.
Windjammers 2 is a game I can see myself busting out to play with friends. Even to put together an in-person tournament at a party or small gathering. It’s a really fun game, and I can see it living on for a while with some added content along the way.
Windjammers 2 is out now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox Consoles, PlayStation 4 & 5, Google Stadia and PC.
*myVGBC.com was provided a review code for Windjammers 2 by the publisher.