Review: Windjammers 2 (Switch)

A sequel that manages to outdo the original!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 02/16/2022 15:13 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great reimagining of the visuals that still evokes the extreme feeling of '90s entertainment; tons of possibilities with mix of new and old abilities; special moves dazzle but can still be overcome, keeping matches fair; competition is excellent and will keep players coming back for more
Poison Mushroom for...
Solo play isn't quite as compelling; lack of modes might make playing along less engaging over time

Neo Geo is a name synonymous with quality video games. Among the many beloved pieces of software that graced SNK hardware over the years, Data East’s 1994 gem Windjammers is a standout. Think PONG, but with a mix of one-versus-one competition on par with a fighting game thrown in for good measure. Characters try to launch their flying disc into their opponent’s goal all while performing a variety of over-the-top throws. The original Windjammers did this to great effect, but somehow developer Dotemu has stepped things up with Windjammers 2. The new art direction injects a lot of energy into the proceedings, while new abilities, in particular being able to jump, have made the action more varied and frenzied than ever. It took a while to get to fans, but the wait has been more than worth if for Windjammers 2.

When Dotemu ported the first Windjammers to Nintendo Switch in 2018, the developer did an astounding job of preserving its gorgeous pixel art while bumping up the fidelity to contemporary levels of crispness and fluidity. For Windjammers 2, Dotemu has decided to go a slightly different direction by jettisoning the pixels and replacing them with assets that look more like hand drawn artwork. Not only is the look sleek and detailed, but it also manages to retain the ’90s feel of the original. Windjammers has all of the trappings of the extreme that are so entwined with ’90s movies, games, and comics, so it was a great decision to retain the same vibe for Windjammers 2.

There are a total of ten characters to choose from, six of whom are back from the original game, and all of them provide a solid mix of play styles to experiment with. Not just in terms of speed and other stats like that, but also special abilities. Characters have an EX gauge that fills over the course of each match, and when utilized players can unleash powerful, eye-grabbing moves to overwhelm the competition. As strong as these specials are, what’s even better is that it’s possible to get a read on them and deflect a shot right back to an opponent. This means that matches in Windjammers 2 never feel unfair, with skill and practice rewarded. Matches frequently become riotous affairs of speed and visual spectacle.

Players also feel more mobile in Windjammers 2. Leaping up to spike a shot downward is a delight. So too is the new slap shot ability, where the disc is lightly flung past the net in order to compel your opponent to scramble forward and try to hurl it back. All of these new moves and abilities result in matches where the player is more acutely aware of every inch of the playing field, trying to take advantage of all available real estate in order to come out on top. Although the first Windjammers is still a thrill to play, Windjammers 2 successfully builds upon its foundation and delivers greater nuance and variety than its predecessor.

If there’s a downside to Windjammers 2, it’s that competition is at its peak when playing another person. This is true of many competitive games, but the real beauty of what can be achieved with the game’s roster of characters is on fullest display when another human is in command. Whether played locally or online, multiplayer here is solid and the ultimate draw of Windjammers 2. That said, solo play is still fun, but with limited modes to choose from, to get the most out of Windjammers 2 players are going to want to bring in another person to challenge.

It’s not often that a classic like Windjammers is able to make a comeback such as this. Obscure software has a tendency to fade into the abyss over time, but Windjammers 2 has taken the fine work Dotemu did with the original game and expanded upon it both intelligently and exponentially. Windjammers 2 has bold, exceptional visuals and an expanded suite of moves and abilities that turn each match into legitimate thrill rides. Solo players won’t get quite as much from the gameplay here, but when played with others Windjammers 2 truly shines. This is the rare sequel that tops what came before it—definitely consider it the next time you head to the eShop.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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