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PAX WEST HANDS-ON: Wind Jammers 2

It’s been quite some time since Windjammers 2 was first announced, but at PAXWEST 2019, Windjammers 2 was ready to play at The Arcade Crew booth. The team is working hard to deliver the nostalgic and fondly remembered 1990’s sports game, and I had a special opportunity to check the game out for myself at PAX WEST.

Windjammers 2 is the sequel to Windjammers. originally released in 1994 by Data East for the Neo-Geo Arcade. A futuristic sports game, Windjammers played similarly to Pong, tennis, and air hockey. In Windjammers, players throw a special disc across the stage attempting to score into each player’s nets. Each character can move around to deflect and throw the disc, as well as use fiercely powerful attacks, known as Power Moves.  Featuring the hallmark visual style that SNK and Neo-Geo were known for. Windjammers became a smashing success in 1994. Following the rise of 3D games and the launch of Sony PlayStation also in 1994. Windjammers disappeared until resurfacing in 2010 on the Nintendo Wii Store. In 2017, Windjammers made a surprise release on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, striking a nostalgic chord with players. In 2018, Windjammers was released on the Nintendo Switch, bringing Windjammers into the forefront of Nintendo Switch players around the world. With Windjammers 2, the classic returns, with new moves, new levels, and breathtaking animation.

A demonstration at how the developers enhanced the graphic in the newer version (left) compared to the earlier version (right).

The first thing that struck me was how incredible the animation looked. it struck a chord between old and new, a game that is both nostalgic for the past but new for a new generation of audiences. The bright colors and eye-popping illustrations of familiar characters truly emphasize that Windjammers 2 is plugged into a very different time in the worlds of video games, where mascots and the visual appearance of your character was the ultimate way to stand out among the crowds. The edgier your character was, the better it could stand out as this was the “Attitude era” of our culture. As with any game; however, the gameplay is what matters most, and Windjammers 2 is shaping up to be one of the sharpest arcade sports games once again.

The gameplay felt incredibly responsive and sharp as I was able to move and throw my disc with ease, using the walls and angles to score multiple points against my opponent. The visuals never felt overwhelming or distracting, leaving the gameplay front and center. For me, it felt like old times again with the difference in feeling that Windjammers 2 was much faster than the original. The original Windjammers was a fast game, but Windjammers 2 felt significantly smoother, making for a sublime gameplay experience that was incredibly engaging to play and to enjoy. Me and my opponents spend a few rounds playing and experimenting with the mechanics and the various ways that players can move the disc. I was able to use the Power Move a few times, and in Windjammers 2, it looked more eye-popping than ever before.  The arena itself was even more animated, with audience members cheering and moving to the excitement of the game. Windjammers 2 felt as energetic and kinetic as the original making it feel more polished. Overall I’m exited for this game, an I look forward to it’s release later this year.

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