A Mighty Wind

HIGH Coming back from twelve points down to win a set.

LOW Losing eight straight sets in a row during the championship round.

WTF How is it fair to have a teleporting trick shot in official competitions!?

Windjammers 2 is the sequel to the 1994 Neo Geo Arcade cult classic, Windjammers. Twenty-eight years is a long time between entries, but thankfully Windjammers 2 delivers a strong follow-up.

The premise is relatively simple. Players take control of a single character and toss a disc back and forth, attempting to get the disc into the net behind their opponent. The basics remind me of air hockey, with a larger goal and a larger variety of shot selections.

Windjammers 2 includes not just directional throws, but also lobs, slapshots, and even special power shots. These special shots differ from character to character and include things like zig-zags, swirling tornado-like shots, and even a throw that teleports from one edge of the court to the other. However, these are limited, as players must fill up a power gauge before unleashing a tough-to-stop throw.

The courts in Windjammers 2 are like a volleyball court with a soccer net in each endzone. Points are scored with each successful disc thrown into the net and assigned varying point values – larger yellow areas earn three points, while smaller red areas earn five. Points, usually two, are also earned when an opponent allows the disc to hit the ground. The first side to get 15 points wins the set, with two sets winning the match.

Fans of the original Windjammers will be glad to know the original six characters make a return, with four additional contenders presented in colorful, cartoony, hand-drawn goodness. Besides unique throws, players have varying stats for strength and speed. I tried most of the characters, but like many fighting games, soon found the one that fit my play style and stuck with them.

Once in the groove, players will try to complete classic arcade-style opponent ladder, with a slight twist. Instead of competing against a set order, players get to choose between two different opponents each round leading up to the championship. I really enjoyed this option, as it allowed me to avoid characters and courts that I tended to do poorly against.

Arcade mode also includes two mini-games to help earn points towards a continue. One involves catching discs fired from an automatic machine while the other sees players trying to throw a disc as far as possible while a dog runs to catch it. Those extra points and continues are vital, as Windjammers 2 can be tough as nails.

The difficulty here is my only real complaint. Even on Easy Mode, completing Windjammers 2‘s arcade mode can be an arduous task, complicated further by limited continues. It took time and I eventually won the championship, but not before one attempt where I lost eight straight sets in the final round! This steep difficulty curve may be a hindrance to attracting future casual fans.

Thankfully, in addtional to local two-player matches, there’s also a solid online component for players wanting some human competition. Options for quick, ranked, and matches against friends are available. A counter on the menu shows exactly how many others are currently online, so players will know immediately if there’s enough action to stick around for. I was able to jump into various matches quickly and the competition ran smoothly without lag.

Strong multiplayer options help lessen the frustration of a high learning curve in the arcade mode, but no matter a player’s skill level, this is a game that fans of fast-paced arcade action shouldn’t miss. Arriving a quarter century later, Windjammers 2 is a fantastic sequel.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by and published by DotEmu. It is currently available on XBO/X/S, PS4/5, Switch, PC, and Stadia. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 7 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game’s arcade mode was completed one time. Zero hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E. There’s no official ratings description, but this one is safe for gamers of all ages. When losing a round, close-ups of characters appear bruised, kind of like a boxer who has been punched in the face, but nothing beyond that. No blood, no foul language, no drug or alcohol references.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not offer subtitles, but the small amount of story (delivered upon winning the championship) is told completely through visuals, with no voiceover or text. Menu text cannot be altered or resized. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable. Actions (throws, lobs, dashing, etc.) can be remapped to various buttons. Directional movement is confined to the left joystick or left directional buttons.

Brian Theisen
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