PAX East Preview: Windjammers 2

Windjammers originally released in arcades in 1994, but ever since its initial release it has seen enhanced ports to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch bringing online play and a revitalized competitive scene to the forefront. A port of a relatively obscure arcade game isn’t out of the ordinary especially in today’s gaming climate, but I never thought I’d be seeing a sequel. Enter Windjammers 2, Dotemu‘s resurrection of the cult classic disc throwing duel.

Windjammers 2 is a competitive couch co-op game that blends elements of other back and forth games like tennis but introduces elements akin to fighting games. Not only is the sequel faithful to the original, but boasts impressive hand drawn art, a cast of  new and returning characters, new game modes, and introduces new mechanics that add deeper levels of nuance and strategy.

In each match of Windjammers 2 you play both offense and defense, trying to score on your adversary’s net while defending your goal on their throw. Beyond the basic mechanics of throwing and blocking, and returning techniques such as diving and special moves, players have access to some new tactics to outwit your rival. One of these being the option to jump up in the air and spike the disc down on your opponents side when the disc gets flipped up in the air. This allows for more input options in key moments of attack and defense which bring Windjammers 2 even more closely aligned with fighting game elements. Add on the introduction of a super meter and the ability to unleash a powerful move on your opponent or a monumental stop for your side and the meta of Windjammers 2 keeps on expanding. With these inclusions, Windjammers 2 is poised to find itself reveled by its core audience as well as new fans.

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Upon having some hands on time with Windjammers 2 at PAX East, it played eerily similar to the original touting tight controls and addictive gameplay. The pressure was on to not lose to Mike, Joe, or anyone from Dotemu. Aside from what I already knew about Windjammers the new abilities brought the added depth that Dotemu was surely trying to accomplish by incorporating new moves. These new mechanics open up this sequel to have a broader competitive scene for veterans and newcomers alike. Also, varied ways to casually crush your siblings or friends on the couch or via the internet.

Aside from the newly introduced mechanics, Dotemu is planning to bring additional modes and a dedicated story mode to Windjammers 2. What was playable at PAX East was limited, but the thought of having a larger swath of content to dip into to not only hone my competitive disc tossing skills but enjoy on my own is mouth watering. It will be interesting to see if there’s an intriguing narrative tied in to flesh out the lore of the game’s world.

Visually, Windjammers 2 differentiates itself from the original’s pixel art by bathing itself in a colorful, hand drawn art-style that somehow manages to still capture the essence of the original while looking like a wholly modern game. Always a fan of pixel art, but do appreciate when studios take different approaches and nail them– Dotemu did just that. Not that the chosen art-style is anything monumentally new, it is still beautiful and wonderfully crafted.

If Windjammers 2 keeps its promise of having a fleshed out single player experience, offers a balanced competitive aspect, and functional online matches I can see this sequel to the cult classic performing extremely well. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open for when a release date officially drops, until then I’ll be practicing up on the original on my Switch.

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For all things Windjammers 2 and indie game related, keep it locked to Pass The Controller– and for a deeper dive on all things video game and nerd culture related be sure to listen to the Pass The Controller Podcast with new episodes airing weekly. To continue the discussion further with us and our community join the Pass The Controller Discord server.

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