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Windjammers 2 has been a long time coming. Gamers have been begging for a proper sequel for more than two decades now, and thanks to Dotemu, this dream is finally a reality. We have been covering this game for a while, and everyone here at Nintendo Link was getting pumped for this long-awaited sequel.
But is Windjammers 2 the reimagining of the franchise that we have been begging for? Or is this simply a failed attempt at cashing in on nostalgia? Let’s find out!
For those unaware, the original Windjammers was a sports arcade game released by Data East on the Neo Geo arcade system back in 1994. The game mechanics are essentially the same as Pong or air hockey, where players continuously throw a Frisbee at the goal zone of the opponent attempting to score points,and they can even bounce it off the walls, too. As far as Windjammers 2 goes, this is essentially the same sports arcade game and premise with a whole lot more behind it.
This is an incredibly competitive game series, and this sequel is no different. One of the unfortunate problems right out of the gate, though, is that the learning curve is insanely high. For players of the original or even the 2018 remake, gameplay and controls will come a lot more naturally. However, if you are new to the series, you may need to take a pounding for a while before you begin to understand how things work. Unfortunately, the How To Play is a bit overwhelming and is not an interactive tutorial. It is just a bunch of text and images giving you the gist of the game and controls, which means new players will frequently be visiting this area of the menu.
But we all know that with any sport, practice makes perfect, and that is precisely what you need to do. There are multiple modes to tackle, but I found Versus against the CPU to serve as a great practice field to try out all of the different actions, maneuvers, and abilities. But be warned, even the lowest level CPU will put up a decent fight. Thankfully, once you begin to adjust to the gameplay, you will begin to raise the CPU level and become a real threat! This is when Arcade and Online mode should be jumped into, because this is where the real fun and challenge begin.
Windjammers 2 is at its most fun when playing locally, especially if everyone is still learning how to play the game. If all players are at an even playing field, it makes local gameplay stellar and a ton of fun, because this is one of the perfect one-on-one games on the market. It is tightly controlled, fun to pick up and play, and ultimately hard to master, which is the perfect kind of game to have in your library for those local tournaments with your buddies.
Online is a different beast, though, as the player base is a mixed bag. There can be people that are miles ahead of you in terms of knowledge and skill, and let’s be honest, no one likes to be pummeled in online competition. Quick Matches connect you with anyone trying to play within that lobby, so the balance may or may not be in your favor. However, Ranked Matches typically connect you with people along the same skill level, which can be great competitive fun if that is what you are looking for. If you are looking for a quick match during a break or to climb the ladder in Ranked, the online in Windjammers 2 is wonderful, plays smoothly, and offers something for everyone, because it even has a Play With Friends mode to connect with only those you know and enjoy at your own pace (Similarly to local).
Arcade mode is a strange mixed bag, though. I found rounds to be wildly different with little-to-no explanation. The CPU can be tough-as-nails at the lowest level at times, and it can be a pushover at the higher levels at other times. This made the journey through Arcade to be frustrating, but thankfully you get to choose between two opponents as you progress, meaning if you are having trouble with one, you can try your hand on the other. Despite, this mode was the least entertaining for me, because of its randomness. I am not sure if this is an RNG issue or if the coding within the CPU players is just off, but it just does not feel right.
In regards to actual gameplay, Windjammers 2 is quite complicated while also being simplistic. What I mean is that there is a lot that can be done on these little courts, and there are so many little control variations depending on defense and offense. Not only that, but you have a super meter that builds up as you play, which can be unleashed once it is full. Each character has their own special offensive movesets, and an important thing to learn while playing is what every character is capable of so you are not surprised when playing against them. Thankfully, all of the characters are balanced really well, and I never found a moment when one character felt significantly more powerful or weaker than another.
A couple of unique controls that take some getting used to are curving the disc and volleying. While throwing, you can move the joystick in such a way that affects the movement of the disc, and this can be detrimental in a competitive match. Volleying is something that happens quite often, but mastering it takes a lot of practice. Essentially, while on defense, if you time your catch perfectly, you can perform a super-throw back (Which can be curved) or you can toss it in the air for a mini-special move unique to the character you are playing as. Learning the timing for all of these aspects again takes a lot of time and practice, but the more you invest, the greater the experience and fun.
As far as graphics and audio go, Windjammers 2 is basically the perfect upgrade from the original. The menus are equal parts nostalgic and new, and the characters models and courts are incredibly designed and look amazing in action. I especially like the second color palettes for each character. Music is okay, and it definitely sounds like a Windjammers game. It just does not leave a lasting impression. Nothing bad, but nothing impressive. It just simply serves its purpose and does so decently.
Windjammers 2 is a tough one for me to recommend, because this is not a game for everyone. Competitive players who have a history with the Windjammers series will benefit the most from this wonderful sequel. Young players with a competitive edge will have a lot to learn, but they will get a ton of satisfaction learning the ups and downs of this one. However, players looking for a casual “party” experience will not find it here, even if the local multiplayer is loads of fun even at a low skill level. For the price, this is just not a game for the casuals.
For the Windjammers fans, though, this is exactly what the series needed to get back into the gaming-sphere. This is a hardcore and insanely fun esports experience with a great roster of playable characters and a wonderful array of unique courts to play on. The Arcade experience may not be the best because of the wildly unpredictable CPU, but everything else is a blast!
At the end of the day, this is Windjammers 2, and no matter how else I spin it, this is just Grade-A competitive fun.
Windjammers 2 Switch Review provided by Nintendo Link
Review also found on OpenCritic
Developer: Dotemu, PAON DP
Release Date: January 20th, 2022
Price: $19.99, £17.99, €19,99
Game Size: 530 MB
Fun, competitive sports gameplay
Lots of modes for both online and local play
Excellent cast of characters
High learning curve
Arcade mode/CPU level doesn't feel right
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.