Windjammers 2 is so damn good. It’s a stylish distillation of competitive spirit that brings out the best and worst in everyone, a nail-biting exercise in patience and reflexes where only one person can walk away victorious.
The winner will be elated beyond belief, while the loser will only be further determined to prove their worth and step back onto the court. 27 years after the original game’s release, a sequel is here, and it is every bit the successor I had hoped it would be.
The original Windjammers is older than I am, but its legacy across niche competitive communities has kept this quaint little game alive and ignited enough passion for an official sequel from Dotemu.
Coming from the same team behind the immaculate Streets of Rage 4, Windjammers 2 is a successor in the purest form, taking everything that made its progenitor so special and building upon it in small, subtle ways that never once dare to change the formula. This is tight, responsive sporting action every step of the way, and it shines.
Those expecting Windjammers 2 to reinvent the rules of this game or push it into new echelons of ambition will be very disappointed, but the simplicity feels by design. You have Arcade, Online, and Versus modes alongside a basic tutorial which offers commands for all the throws, reactions, and movements you’ll need to utilise with each character. While each athlete has their own distinct special ability, the act of succeeding in Windjammers 2 is seldom determined by whom you pick, but more about how you approach the rules of the game and use them to your own benefit. Some characters have increased speed and lessened power, while others move slower and throw at a much larger velocity. There are trade-offs to be made, but it all comes down to pure skill.
The basic court has three zones sitting behind the player, each representing 3, 5, 3 points respectively. Your goal is to hurl the frisbee (windjammer?) into the opposing goal by any means necessary. Making it past your opponent is the key to victory, while you must be constantly reacting to their own unpredictable mixture of throws and tosses. They can also just lazily let the disc drop to the ground, earning a paltry 2 points so long as it lands on your side of the court. Win two sets of 15 points and the match is yours.
Like I said, it sounds incredibly simple, but that’s the beauty of Windjammers 2 – its approachability allows each and every match to become an intense showcase of skills where every little action counts. Put a foot wrong and the game is forfeited, meaning you need to be an elegant dancer on the court or risk losing it all. Each court – of which there are plenty – can sport a selection of different score zones and other properties, such as different layouts that cause the frisbee to chaotically bounce off nearby walls before scoring a point. Arcade mode does a great job of presenting this variety, each new encounter a subversive challenge of classic Windjammers while maintaining all the core tenets.
All six characters from the original game return in Windjammers 2 with updated outfits alongside four newcomers. I have to get this out of the way, but everyone in this game is incredibly sexy. Maybe it’s a French thing or just a hallmark of Dotemu’s visual identity, but it has such a sharp, cartoonish style that exemplifies the assets of its roster in the most striking of ways. Yes I’m simping for a frisbee game, but if you play it and don’t do the same I’ll be very impressed. Flirtation aside, all the designs kick ass, combining with a banging soundtrack and bright, enthusiastic colour palette to make Windjammers 2 an experience that oozes charm from every orifice. It’s nice to see a game that knows what it wants to be and pulls it off with virtually no shortcomings.
Windjammers 2 is launching on Game Pass, which makes its apparent value a little harder to determine. By design, this is a lightweight package with only a handful of modes. You can earn experience and rank up by tackling Arcade mode with different characters, but the real fun sits in online play and local multiplayer where your skills will develop and be tested against curious friends and hardened veterans alike. I can’t blame those hoping for something more substantial, but for me the meat of this game lies in its mechanical complexity and endless replay value. Matches are so ferociously short that you’re always wanting to jump back in for one more shot at winning, losing yourself for hours on the court with no wish to escape.
Dotemu has created a nostalgic slice of competitive sporting excellence with Windjammers 2. It might only offer a handful of modes, but its wide roster of characters, tight controls, and admirable dedication to what came before it meant I was entranced the moment I picked up a disc and hurled it into the air. This is one of the finest local multiplayer games in recent memory that is easy to learn yet devilishly hard to master. It’s also very sexy.
A review code of Windjammers 2 was provided by the publisher.
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