Windjammers was originally developed by DataEast for the NEO GEO MVS/AES/CD back in 1994 (aka Flying Power Disc in Japan). It is a sports game where characters throw a disc into their opponent’s net to score points. It takes the basic elements of the Atari classic Pong and adds its own twists and curves to its mechanics, essentially giving it the depth of a fighting game.
The game features an arcade mode, which pits you against each of the game’s six characters. Each character has their individual strengths and weaknesses, which includes traits such as a quicker movement speed, throwing speed, or throwing strength. The characters also differ in terms of sliding ability, dexterity, and throwing curve. A choice of six courts are available to choose from, with each having its own unique layout.
The main objective of Windjammers is to get the disc into your opponent’s net by performing a variety of unique throws with which to deceive your opponent. The action takes place in a variety of courts that differ in terms of size and the inclusion of barriers in the middle of the court. At each end of the court, you have a net with red and yellow colored zones. These zones determine the number of point you earn if you throw the disc into a particular section of the net that corresponds to either of these colors. The layout of these zones differs in each court.
The outcome of a match is determined by a best of three sets, with each being thirty seconds long. The first player to win two sets wins the match. In order to win a set, you have to score twelve points or a score higher than that of your opponent when the time expires. Throwing a disc into the yellow zone of the net is worth three points, while the red zone of the net will get you five points. You’ll also receive two points if your opponent fails to catch a disc that was lobbed in the air. If the score is tied when the time expires, both characters will win the set. In the event of a tie with two sets each, a sudden death is played where the first person to score wins the match.
Lobbing the disc is an fundamental mechanic that can be used to feint a throw in order to deceive your opponent. It also gives you the opportunity to charge a super throw while the disc is in the air. This charged super throw is unique for every character. It’s not possible to move the player around during possession of the disc. However, it’s possible to use the analog stick to throw the disc around in several different directions. The mechanics receive an additional layer of depth with the ability to throw the disc at a cure by performing a circular motion with the stick before throwing. Once the disc is thrown, you can freely move around your half of the court, forcing the opponent to position themselves to catch it.
If you’re not in close range of catching the disc, you can perform a slide in a particular direction, which allows you to cover distance more quickly. The key is to throw the disc back at your opponent as soon as you catch it, so as to hurl it back at a faster speed and make things more challenging for your opponent. Though, should your opponent catch it, they can return it to you at an even faster speed. Once the disc builds up momentum, it may even knock your opponent back with force and end up in the net. If you hold on to the disc for too long, it will automatically be thrown at a slow speed. Throwing the disc at the side walls will make it bounce around, giving it a trajectory that will make it harder for your opponent to catch it.
In addition to the main mode, there are also a few bonus mini-games, which include a Frisbee game where make a dog chase and try to catch the disc and a bowling game where you use the disc to try and knock out all the pin.
New to the PS4 and PS Vita versions is an online multiplayer mode, which takes the competitive aspect of Windjammers to an entire new level. The matchmaking options include quick, ranked, and custom match modes. As of writing, we were unable to test out the net code and matchmaking proficiency.
The return of Windjammers to existing platforms is more than welcome, given that it is a classic that was previously only playable on the Neo Geo platforms. With the addition of an online competitive mode, studio DotEmu has breathed new life into an already great game.
Windjammers Review (PS4/Vita)
Game Reviewed on: PS4/Vita
Game description: Windjammers is a fast-paced sports arcade game released by Data East on the Neo Geo arcade system in 1994 and later on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on June 22, 2010. It was recently ported to the PS4 by DotEMU.
Windjammers is a triumphant return of an essential classic from the 90s. The much-needed addition of an online multiplayer mode breathes new life into its competitive experience.