An arcade and Neo Geo classic has finally made its way to PS4! Find out what we thought about DotEmu’s version in our Windjammers Review.
|Release Date||August 29, 2017|
Windjammers is one of those game that if you haven’t played it, you’ve at least heard about it. It’s a cult-classic that originally debuted in 1994 in arcades and on the Neo Geo home console. It’s been many years since then and fans had been clamouring for a return of the series. There were some licensing issues (the fact that no one knew who held the rights to the game), but DotEmu was finally given the green light to port this game to the PS4 and PS Vita. So let’s take a look on how well this game has aged.
Windjammers is very much a similar game to Pong in a lot of ways, but with a much faster pace and more extras are thrown in. Players can pick from six playable characters that look like they just came out of a late-80s beach movie and battle one on one. You can score 3-5 points based on where the disc ends up in the net. Getting 5 points is usually harder and that spot is usually more well-defended. Most games are first to 12 with a best 2 out of 3 format. These matches are also under a 90-second time limit, but I don’t think I ever came close to that with the frantic action that takes place.
Windjammers has an incredibly simple control scheme consisting of two face buttons and either the analog stick or D-pad for movement. Square or X will throw the disc normally or make the character slide around when empty-handed. Circle or triangle is used for lobs which throw the disc up in the air for the opponent. If they miss a lob and it hits the ground, you get 2 points. The game sounds incredibly simple, but trust me when I say it can get difficult when that disc gets going back and forth.
Windjammers would be fun if that was all there was to it, but there are even more advanced moves that add a little more variety to the game. If you time the throw perfectly, the disc travels at supersonic speeds. There are even curve shots that I haven’t quite mastered yet. It’s sometimes hard at such a quick pace to get the exact shot you want.
The characters to choose from are also unique in what they bring to the table. Two characters are fast but can’t throw hard, two are slow but powerful, and two are more all-around characters. Each character also has a custom super throw that can be used when standing under a disc that has been knocked into the air. These throws are very difficult to react to and result in getting you some points more often than not. It can also be used for a faster lob shot which I’ve been the victim of a few times. It’s definitely hard to keep up with these techniques, but every once in a while it’s fun to pull off a cool super throw that ends up in the opponent’s goal.
I loved that this game brought me back to the 16-bit era with the way the visuals popped off the screen. Windjammers is full of bright colours, big vibrant menus, and a good soundtrack reminiscent of the early-90s. All the characters have distinctly different looks and there are quite a few stages to play on from the sandy beach to a concrete court with bumpers. There’s plenty of variety to keep things from looking too similar.
The game modes present in the game are pretty limited with Arcade and Online being the main ones. Arcade is a ladder mode versus the other 5 AI characters to become the champion. After 3 losses, you’re done in this mode. There’s also an infinite version that goes on infinitely, as the name suggests. The difficulty is really easy on easy and medium modes but gets much more difficult on hard to prepare you for Online. You better be a good player if you go online or you’ll get slaughtered. I went 0-5 in about a half hour and that was enough for me. There are a couple of mini-games in Disc Bowling and a weird game of fetch with a dog where you’re jumping over things to get the disc. They were relatively pointless and did little in the way of adding alternative gameplay.
Windjammers is a faithful recreation of a classic game and for that, it does well. The addition of a ranked online mode is a great thing for the game and I’m sure it will be incredibly popular. This game has infinite replayability and it’s really fun to play this when you only have a few minutes to spare. This is a cross-buy with the PS Vita, so it’s really a no brainer to grab this at such an affordable price if you own both systems even though there isn’t a lot of depth to it. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes fast arcade action they can just pick up and play. That’s exactly what you can expect out of Windjammers.