28 years later, and Windjammers 2 is here. The long-awaited sequel faithfully recaptures a lot of the magic of its predecessor but falls short in several ways.
The concept of a Pong clone that incorporates tennis and hockey elements sounds nuts. Yet, Windjammers 2 is all of these things and more. 1994 saw the release of the original Windjammers title and its graphics have been updated to reflect the capabilities of 2022.
As with most sports games, its gameplay is the key to its longevity. Windjammers 2 features a variety of different arenas and a roster of athletes, but the game’s shortcomings become clear the more you play.
Windjammers 2 – Key details
- Price: €19.99 / $19.99
- Developer: Dotemu
- Release date: 20/1/2022
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Stadia
Windjammers 2 PlayStation trailer
This bike could do with some stabilizers
Windjammers 2 pretty much retains the identity of the first game as the formula of two players duking it out across an arena with a frisbee is unchanged. It’s the first to 15 points in each set, and it’s the first to two sets.
The goal behind each player is split into zones offering different point values, depending on the court, and each competitor needs to make use of the game’s selection of different shots to score. To be fair, there’s a hefty amount of them too: Lob shots, Curve shots, Straight Shots, Power Shots, and these can be intertwined with other gameplay mechanics such as Sliding, Jumping, and Reversals.
So there’s plenty of room to maneuver (literally), but the only problem is the game’s execution of its teachings. In that, it just doesn’t teach at all. Apart from a basic “How to play” screen that goes through each of the different movements and attacks, there’s no training mode or practice area to help absorb this whopping great deal of knowledge.
There are a lot of controls here, and you’ll find yourself mainly using the same few ones as learning in the heat of battle just isn’t advisable. A handful of brief mini-games like FIFA or Madden has would do the game a world of good to encourage new players, and reinforce the movements for veterans.
But, the core gameplay can be unbelievably engaging and gripping as you go to the end of the world to secure 2 points with a well-placed drop shot. We had a blast once we got to grips with some of the game’s main controls and looked forward to the rest of the adventure, but therein lies an issue.
The shallow end of a very pretty pool
Windjammer’s 2 content is lacking and rather barebones. There is a simple Arcade ladder scenario, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer. If you’re not interested in multiplayer, then you may feel shortchanged.
Granted, there are 10 characters with differing speed and strength stats, including returning ones, and 10 courts, but you’ll have pretty much seen all of the content within about an hour or two. You pick either Easy, Normal, or Hard, and have to win each match until you become the champion.
Some of the arenas are dynamic and change the way you play, although that can be a detraction from the gorgeous environments. One, in particular, was great fun as it was a Casino stage that constantly changed the points values of the disc and scoring zones.
The quickest/weakest character feels miles apart from the slowest/strongest character, so there is a welcome layer of depth and strategy required. Mastering these can help reach each character’s end-game movie, too.
Despite being 2022, make no mistake, this is a classic Arcade ladder game mode with no save function and limited credits, where you’ll earn more for delivering high-quality performances on your run. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea nowadays, but it’s hard to be overly mad when the graphics and music are constantly pumping with amazing retro vibes and beautiful cel-shaded graphics.
If you’ve played Streets of Rage 4 you’ll be instantly familiar with Dotemu’s work and style, all without losing readability in the middle of a match.
Windjammers 2 feels more like a callback and reimagining of a classic for veterans and returning fans of the brand. It doesn’t feel wholly inclusive of new players, and how much gameplay and entertainment you get from it will be entirely dependent on you.
On the other hand, it’s an easy game to jump into once you know what you’re doing, and the artistic values are complimented so well by its soundtrack. Windjammers 2 isn’t a must-own game, but one you will have fun with.
Reviewed on PS5