Windjammers is a bit of a cult classic. Known cordially as Flying Power Disc in Japan, Windjammers was a long forgotten relic of the NEOGEO era. When DotEmu released the HD remaster of Windjammers in 2017, the Fighting Game Community (FGC) became enamored with it and the game saw success in the competitive scene. Fast-forward a few years and Windjammers returns with a sequel – but does it even remotely compare to the original? Here’s our Windjammers 2 review:
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed) PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, Stadia
Release Date: January 20th, 2022
If you’ve never played Windjammers, it’s basically air hockey with a few more steps. Similar to how Rocket League uses cars to play Soccer, Windjammers uses rejected American Gladiators to play frisbee. Just kidding, they are very 1990’s themed characters though. You’ll volley the disc back and forth trying to make the other player drop it or miss a catch, with no boundaries aside from a net in the center.
Windjammers 2 brings back all six of the original characters, and adds four new players to the mix – which ultimately aren’t too much different from the originals but have some new special throws that can be super annoying to deal with. One of these new characters throws the disc and it pulls a Glass Tiger from Punch-Out!! splitting and showing two discs before ultimately materializing in one of two spots.
There are two big changes for Windjammers 2: The first is in the art style. They’ve traded the NEOGEO pixel art and sprites for a more watercolor based comic book aesthetic. The result is a much flashier looking game that sometimes dazzles so much that it can be hard to keep track of the disc which results in sloppy player response.
The second big change comes directly to the gameplay. Windjammers 2 adds several new depth in order to fake opponents out. These new tactics include the slap shot, the jumping spike, and the drop shot. The slap shot, when timed correctly is a lightning fast volley return that fires the disc off in a direction that’s sure to make powerful opponents stumble.
The jumping spike is great for forcing the opponent to miss the catch or, when charged up, forces the disc to bounce and roll in a straight line into the goal. Finally, the drop shot allows you to skillfully plink a shot over that just barely clears the net.
Each of these shots can be changed and used to your preference, and timing is still the name of the game when it comes to how much power is behind each return. I like using the drop shot to force the opponent into the backline, then returning their volley with a slap aimed sharply at the corner of the goal for maximum pain.
Much like the fighting games, Windjammers 2 now also features a special gauge which allows you to either fire off your special move for a nearly guaranteed point or save it for defensive use and stop a lob that is about to score or that you missed. The meter charges quite quickly, so you’ll be using it every few volleys.
Online play is greatly improved in Windjammers 2 with the addition of rollback netcode. Even when playing against an opponent on 300 ping, it felt just as good as playing against someone sitting in the same room. While online play does feel nice, it’s kind of a bummer that the only options are normal and ranked matches. You’d think a game with a heavy multiplayer focus would offer more than just ranked or quick play, but here we are. Still, for $20 it’s hard to find much to complain about aside from the game being pretty barebones.
Single player sees a completely revamped Arcade mode, where now you’ll travel around the city to challenge other contestants. You’ll be offered your choice between two opponents, after two rounds you’ll play a mini game – similar to Street Fighter II’s method of bonus stages.
Eventually you’ll finally face off against your rival in the fifth and final round. Some stages are cooler than others, like for example Casino where the disc is styled like a poker chip and worth a randomly assigned point value instead of having to aim for higher scoring sections of the goal and the floor looks like a disco.
Ultimately, for $20 you’re getting exactly what you came here for. More of the same with some new polish and techniques to add depth to the basic gameplay elements, but very little else aside from the core experience.
While it looks nice on the Switch, I can’t help but be salty that Windjammers 2 isn’t on the PlayStation Vita, since that’s where I spent a majority of my time with the original and got to unlock trophies on the go.
If you liked Windjammers, you’ll probably like Windjammers 2 even more – but there’s not really enough here to rope in new fans. Windjammers 2 is very much a more of the same type of sequel, but that’s alright by me.
Windjammers 2 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided by DotEmu. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.