As a person who wasn’t really into the arcade scene when the original Windjammers was released in 1994, I didn’t quite understand the muted but frankly unmissable hype for a sequel arriving nearly 30 years later.
However, throughout my playtime with Windjammers 2 I have learned to love this addictive gameplay loop and the ‘one more go’ mentality it happily instilled in me.
It’s worth mentioning here, in self-deprecating fashion, that I am not very good at windjammers at all. However, this hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of my favorite go-to options for couch play with friends and family over the past week as I have spent my time evaluating it.
Unfortunately at the time of review I could not find any online matches to view and experience the net code or player base health, the options were there and menus available but even with crossplay on, I could not find a single match.
Windjammers gives me vibes of a competitive arcade fighter mixed with pong wrapped in an ultimate frisbee/volleyball hybrid deathmatch. If that sounds bonkers that’s because it intends to be; it is an arcade game through and through and the sound design is just top-notch at not only being a callback to the original game, but capturing the vibe of the early 90s. This also bleeds over into a visual feast of thick lines and comic colours mixed with throwback pastel pallets in the art of the levels and the ten playable characters, each representing a country in a ‘winner-takes-all’ competition on stages each with varying modifiers and points limits.
Simple to play, hard to master
On the surface, Windjammers 2 is a simple enough game to pick up and understand. The difficulty lies in reaching the ceiling of mastery needed to compete with the higher-level AI. As a guy who had never played the original I was getting shown the front door by even the easy AI on tournament mode and VS mode, however, I was more competitive with my friends who wanted to play as we were more in our zone of competition.
The basics are thankfully fairly simple to grasp. You have an indestructible frisbee, throwing it with considerable force into the enemy red goal for 5 points or the yellow for 3.
You can also lob and spike the frisbee like a volleyball and if you make the enemy miss you will make up some consolation points between 2-4 depending on the arenas rule set. As the arenas are caged in similar way to Rocket League, you don’t have to worry about the ball going out of bounds. Instead, the frisbee will ricochet like a mad pong ball towards the enemies side of the arena.
The skill lies in the little nuances of control. Directional spins will add a curve to your throws and lobs. If you stand under an enemy lob you can generate power, with a spike button that instantly slaps the frisbee at speed in the direction you’ve hit it. You can also jump and catch the disk mid-air for a violent spike or roll out which will send the frisbee screeching at the goal like an F1 car tire. To defend this you will need to manoeuvre your character around the court and catch the disc and throw it back or spike it.
In story mode, it’s a best of 3 sets with the first to 15 winning a set -In versus mode, you can adjust these modifiers to your hearts desire.
I can tell you in my roughly 5-10 hours with the game that the AI will expect you to have at least picked up on the basic nuances which can lead to some punishing volleys and set losses, which may give you hastened match defeats and leave you feeling pretty glum. However, if you stick with it or play friends who are at or around your skill level there is a lot to love here. For couch based fun with friends, there’s a lot of powerful gameplay to enjoy here with Windjammers 2.
Speaking of power, each of the 10 characters has a super move, for every perfect catch, spike, throw or lob you will build up your power gauge and unleash these stylistic and devastating finishers. These are a fun addition to the game and if saved and utilized at the right time they can provide satisfaction and easy points. Super moves can be defended but not as easily as the regular ones.
There isn’t much more to say about Windjammers 2. It’s easy-to-learn / hard-to-master gameplay loop is thrilling when you have it worked out but can snowball quickly and crush you easily if you step out of your skill level.
The art, sounds, and music are aesthetically pleasing and a joy to look at and listen to. I recommend Windjammers 2 for fans of the original and new players looking for a fun and challenging experience. Windjammers 2 is available Day One, on Xbox Game Pass.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series S|
|Available on||Switch, Playstation 4|5, Windows PC, Xbox One|
|Release Date||January 20th, 2022 on Xbox One|
|Rated||E for Everyone|