Windjammers 2 Review – Incredible Gameplay and Not Much Else

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GAME INFO

WindJammers 2

January 20, 2022
Platform PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox
Publisher Dotemu
Developer Dotemu

Windjammers 2 is finally going to come around! It’s the sequel to the NEO GEO title and it’s been almost 30 years in the making. Dotemu has promoted this game constantly and given it a great push that caught the eyes of the FGC. Is that attention warranted? Well, let’s start this review off because while I do have a lot to say, it may not be on the subjects the usual gaming audience might focus on.

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So, let’s go right away and say that this is gonna be a very focused game because outside of it there’s not much of substance going for it. Windjammers 2 is a multiplayer-oriented experience and if you’re looking for anything deeper like a story mode or multiple sub-games, you’re going to be disappointed.

Windjammers 2, for better and for worse, is going to be an arcade game where you basically play a highly competitive version of volleyball mixed with air hockey. When it comes to the variety of content, that’s really all there is to it and I believe that the game knows that it’s basically going to be there for the competitive crowd or players who want to focus on challenging each other.

Now, that’s not to say that there’s not a single-player element to it. Windjammers 2 has an Arcade mode that allows you to test your skills against several AI-controlled opponents. The challenge goes from fairly decent in the Easy and Medium difficulties to SNK-Boss type of difficulty in the hardest at the later stages where the AI pretty much is only defeated by jank.

So, how do you go beating the AI and the eventual opponents you’ll find? By using Windjammers 2’s true core, the gameplay. I recommend using a controller for this experience as WindJammers 2, in my opinion, is a fighting game with the dressing of a sports game. In it, you use motion inputs (half circles) and button combinations to dictate how you’re going to throw your disc, the angle of your throws, or even if it has a curved effect or a spinning circle effect.

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Winning in Windjammers 2 boils down to learning how to outsmart your opponent with the techniques you have at your disposal. As Gary Scott said, this game is rather easy to get into but it becomes a battle of wits between you and your opponent once both of you are on the same page. Really, that’s a great thing because the gameplay aspect is so refined that every time you lose an exchange, it feels like you were outwitted and not slighted.

Players have several techniques available to them once it gets down to the match exchanges. On the defensive, you can throw the disc airborne and smash it to the ground to punish players who constantly hang back. You could go for a spin shot which essentially makes the disc spin in circles to confuse opponents, or you can just throw the disc straight.

The real meat of the game lies on the super meter. Believe it or not, I found the supers that players have access to pretty easy to counter. I played several matches against CPU and other players and found out that the real meter usage comes from using it defensively. Sure, you can use the super to be flashy, but if your opponent knows exactly what the super does, they can very easily catch the disc or throw the super right back at you.

When used defensively, that super meter becomes an AoE disc launcher that essentially opens you up for whatever you want to do in the offensive. You can even use it when you miss a catch so your enemy doesn’t score on your goal.

Windjammers 2 offers a wide variety of stages to play. Every stage layout is important as the scoring rules change with each stage. So, I believe tournament players will make sure to pick the stage that fits certain characters better. I will go into more detail about characters and their preferred stages in another article.

For now, I firmly believe that the competitive community is going to ban Casino. The stage is your standard fare, not much bigger than the other courts you have access to. However, its main gimmick is that the amount of points you get is always determined by RNG in every exchange. So, if I score on your goal and get 8 points, there’s a chance that the next score might be a value from 1 to 8. Every competitive player hates RNG, so there are reasons 1-9 why the stage will be banned in my opinion.

Other stages can include some additional gimmicks like obstacles in the middle of the court or they can be bigger or smaller. Depending on your character choice, these stages might be easier or harder to get through. A heavy-weight character will always benefit from smaller stages while a lightweight will benefit from playing in larger courts.

Before wrapping this review up, I have to talk about the graphical and sound aspects of the game. Every character is well animated and the game is pretty flashy. The special moves are pretty lively, the color scheme is pretty vivid, and the music is engaging enough that it keeps me wanting to keep playing on particular stages even if I am at a disadvantage with certain characters.

As far as I can tell, the game is very well-balanced. Initially, I thought that the biggest advantage would lie in the speedier characters. Thankfully, I was proven wrong when I played against other players who essentially stuck to maining heavyweights. Oh, and of course, you also have access to rollback netcode in this game, so you will not suffer any of the problems that delay-based netcode offers.

Unfortunately, my recommendation is only limited to players who are going to be playing this game either competitively or in multiplayer sessions against their friends. Windjammers 2 doesn’t offer much in terms of content variety for the single-player and it doesn’t have any other activities besides Versus.

So, if you are going to get this game, get it while knowing that you will very likely only be playing this whenever your friends are looking for something to play. This game is easy to understand for any first-timer and will bring a lot of hype matches once everyone is on the same page.

Reviewed on PC (code provided by the publisher).

7.5

The game is excellent in terms of gameplay mechanics, graphics, and music. Unfortunately, there isn't much variety anywhere else to warrant a higher score. This game knows that it's essentially here for versus matches and as such, will only be engaging for players who are going to play against each other locally or online.

Pros

  • Rollback Netcode
  • Incredibly fast-paced gameplay mechanics
  • Easy to get into but hard to master

Cons

  • Not so much variety in terms of content
  • Some supers are a bit janky in execution
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