I’d like to apologize in advance for this preview because I am going to engage in a lot of hyperbole for DotEmu’s upcoming Windjammers 2, the sequel to a game that remains a personal favourite of mine. Featuring a unique mix of frisbee, tennis, and far too much neon, the original Windjammers became a cult classic over the years thanks in no small part to how different it is from other sports arcade games. It’s fast-paced, easy to pick up, and has a surprising amount of strategy to it. Hell, it was even featured as a side tournament at EVO 2018 last year.
Which is why I’m happy to say that within a minute of sitting down to play a demo for Windjammers 2, I was falling in love with Windjammers all over again.
For those who haven’t played Windjammers, which has since been ported to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Vita, the objective is simple. Two players face off in a small arena, throwing frisbees at each other in order to hit one of the coloured goals behind their opponent. Of course, the disc can bounce off walls, and the changing speeds at which the disc is thrown is more than enough to throw even veteran players off. Defending is as simple as walking into a frisbee, but there are a number of shot types that affect how the frisbee moves. Each round lasts a minute, and the first person to win two rounds wins.
While Windjammers 2 lacks the pixelated quality of the original, it retains its focus on creating the most 90’s aesthetic possible. Big hair, flashing neon colours and some very strong lines define the action in the sequel and ensures that action pops no matter what you’re doing. Returning characters, such as my personal boy Klaus Wessel, look fantastic in their reinterpretation. The hand-drawn art style looks great in HD, like a modern adaptation of Windjammers while still retaining the look that made it stand out.
Thanks to Windjammers’ formula being just as fun to play today as it was in 1994, DotEmu didn’t need to do much to keep the gameplay intact. Jump shots, curved shots, and drop shots all return, and are just as fun to pull off. The biggest change in the gameplay is the addition of an EX meter that can be built up during a match. When activated, each character will throw the frisbee in a way that frequently bends the laws of physics, such as making sharp 90-degree turns or pulling off a sharp angular attack. Coupled with the variety of options that you have to counterattack, and you have a game that is both deep and really fun to control. It’s snappy, though thanks to the fact that it’s not on an arcade machine or on a CRT, there is a small amount of lag in between inputs.
But that’s unavoidable when you have to take into account an internet connection and wireless controllers. For the entire time that I was playing, no matter whether I won or lost, I always wanted to immediately dive into another match. More than anything else, that’s the part of Windjammers that DotEmu has best recreated here. The over-the-top, fast-paced nature of Windjammers has been its strongest appeal. And based on what I’ve seen here, I’m looking forward to playing Windjammers 2 far too much when it launches later this year on PC and the Nintendo Switch.