Windjammers 2 is the latest arcade classic to be revived by developers Dotemu
Windjammers 2 review
Developers Dotemu has been on a quiet roll giving retro classics a new lease of life, they just seem to have found the right formula.
After the success of Streets of Rage 4 and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, they have added another sequel to their roster.
Windjammers is the latest classic to receive the Dotemu treatment and returns in the highly anticipated Windjammers 2.
It’s been twenty-eight years since Windjammers first hit the arcades and instantly became a fan favourite for its high-speed tactical gameplay.
Surely enough this Neo Geo classic has lasted the test of time, as there simply isn’t another game like it, so it wasn’t a surprise when it found itself ported to modern consoles.
But the real question is how do you top an almost near-perfect game that has aged like a fine wine.
Windjammers 2 has received a drastic update to its entire art style, with Dotemu replacing its pixel graphics with a fresh hand-drawn aesthetic.
The game looks fantastic with this animesque art style that really brings each character to life and emphases all their attacks.
Each level has also received this fantastic facelift with stunning crowd animation and brazen colour palettes.
Dotemu have given Windjammers 2 an incredible overhaul that still retains all the charm from the original arcade classic.
The audio in Windjammers 2 is more or less identical to its predecessor with all the trademark sound effects returning from the announcer to the crowd cheering.
The game even retains the sound effect of the disc crashing into the goal. Everything sounds much clearer now.
Each character comes with voice acting and they shout out their special moves making Windjammers 2 feel so much like a frisbee anime.
The adrenaline-filled soundtrack returns with remasters of the original music and all-new tracks designed by the original composers.
The original gameplay returns with a plethora of new moves to mix into your tactics.
The most notable of these new mechanics are firstly having the ability to jump and perform a smash shot that’s basically almost undefendable.
Also, there’s a new drop shot that will punish players for spending too much time in their goals. But the biggest new addition is the Power moves that can be activated once the power gauge is filled to the max.
This will allow players to either perform a defensive power toss or an offensive special attack. This extra depth adds much more to an already extremely tactical game.
A few major downsides are that the game has a poor tutorial which comes in the form of stills and the omission of a training mode is frustrating as these are crucial for any competitive game.
There are ten players to pick from with six returning from the first game, finding a main character to play as will come from a lot of trial and error playing against the computer as there isn’t any other way to test them out.
Each of the characters feels very unique and cater to different styles of play. I still go for Garry Scott as he still packs a heavy punch without being too sluggish.
But I feel newcomers like Jao Raposa will become fan favourites as he can traverse the entire field with his lightning speed.
Windjammers 2 also features ten stages with four new ones to add to the mix. Some of the features special include gimmicks such as the Casino stage which has a special roulette that will randomise the points scored.
I feel the new levels add much more creativity and flair to each matchup and really add to the overall strategy during each match.
Windjammers 2 comes with three modes- Online, Arcade and Versus. Arcade will see players take part in the Windjammers championship which features tournament-style matches.
There isn’t anything to unlock other than seeing each character’s ending animation. It would’ve been nice for each character to have an actual story with some character skits.
Versus mode allows players to jump right into competitive action against the computer or friends. The online mode features three different types of play, Ranking, Quick Play or just with friends.
Ranking will match players against opponents of a similar level, with a win allowing you to climb the ranks. Quick Match will pit you against random players who are online at the time.
The only cross-play is between Xbox and PC which is great, but hopefully, other consoles can get in on that action in the future.
Online mode worked pretty well, I didn’t find any input lag and very few frame drops which was great.
But overall the game is really lacking content, the three modes are basically the same but repackaged in different sections.
Another glaring omission is that mini-games can’t be played outside of the Arcade mode like the original, which is a big miss as it would’ve added the extra variety to the lifespan of the game.
Windjammers 2 is a great follow up to the original arcade classic and worth the wait. The major improvements to the overall aesthetic are fantastic and a testament to Dotemu’s stellar work.
The gameplay has retained all its charm while adding excellent mechanics that improve the competitive play.
However due to the lack of content, Windjammers 2 longevity will be determined by how big of a community can be built around its online play, so I hope Dotemu releases some extra content through DLC to keep Windjammers 2 fresh in everyone’s minds.
Windjammers 2 is out now for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia and PC