Windjammers Review: The Resurgence of a Retro Sleeper Hit

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Game: Windjammers
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), PS Vita
Publishers: SNK, DotEmu, SNK Playmore
Developers: Data East, DotEmu

The golden era of arcades was brought on due to publishers/developers such as Capcom, Midway, Data East, SNK etc. Those two aforementioned companies offered a bevy of quarter munchers that covered each and every genre of gaming. One of their combined efforts is an addictive sports themed title that still maintains a hardcore fanbase – Windjammers. To the surprise of everyone, that retro title has been given a new lease on life by getting rejuvenated for release on the PS4/PS Vita. What lies here is a retro experience that’s easy to play and deeper than it appears at first glance.

Windjammers’ concept is pretty cut and dry – two players go head to head and compete in a more hyperactive rendition of frisbee. In order to score, a player must throw the frisbee into their opponent’s goal within the 3- or 5-point area. Once the action really gets going, the depth of this game becomes more evident. Each character has access to a super move, which can be called upon to nab an easy score. There’s plenty of varying shots to utilize in order to throw off your opponent, plus the bouncy walls of the court play a huge part in how you’ll catch/defend passes. The crazier moments arise when the frisbee catches on fire or when your character makes a last-minute save that leads directly to a flashy frisbee pass. There’s an Arcade Ladder to blaze through against the CPU, plus local/online matches that offer the more exciting moments of Windjammers.

Windjammers

DotEmu

One of the treats of Arcade Mode that does a good job of breaking up the action are minigames. What this re-release does is make those two minigames readily available right from the main menu. Flinging a frisbee to man’s best friend or knocking down pins with that same frisbee are the types of activities that lead to the statement “Just one more game…”

Besides the minigames, Windjammers brings new players into the fold with a tight Tutorial Mode and local/online multiplayer matches. What would have made the return of Windjammers great rather than good is the addition of new modes or minigames. 2v2 matches or even a beat ’em up variation that lets you attack with your frisbee would have been awesome to play. The mechanics of this frisbee battler makes it wide open for a host of welcome game variations. The online component itself could be even more of an amazing time if it only worked a bit better. Properly defending passes and pulling off better throws becomes much harder due to all too prevalent lag issues.

Bottom Line

Windjammers

DotEmu

Windjammers returns from the 90’s with the same addictive experience that managed to keep it alive to this very day. The bright visuals, fast-paced matches, fun minigames and classically designed athletes bring the retro feels to everyone who’s ready to give it a whirl (again). Its simple sports concept yields shockingly deep mechanics that create some of the best moments of any multiplayer game. The online matches don’t run as smoothly as they should, plus the lack of new game types or minigames is a hard pill to swallow. Even though this Windjammers re-release is pretty barebones, it still provides a good time for everyone involved.

Score: 7/10

Pros:

  • The mixture of fighting game mechanics and frisbee play presented here is addictive
  • Having instant access to all the minigames is a nice touch

Cons:

  • A few extra modes would have been a worthy addition, but sadly that’s not the case
  • The online matches’ connections are too spotty at times

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