Review: Air Hockey Meets Volleyball in Excellent Windjammers 2

Screenshot: Windjammers 2

I’ve been playing a ton of retro games in the last year or so. I think part of it is recapturing my childhood, while another part of my retro game kick is discovering some truly fantastic games that I missed the first time around. Windjammers 2 is my first chance at playing this unique flying disc game, since I missed the original Data East developer Windjammers when it was in arcades back in the mid-90s.

Windjammers 2  is a game where you try to throw your flying disc to score points against your opponent.  Part air hockey and part volleyball, Windjammers’ flying disc game is simultaneously something I’ve never played  before and something that feels incredibly familiar. It’s like a mixture of volleyball and air hockey with matches that feel a little like a fighting game.  It has a low barrier to entry skill-wise, but it possesses a potentially high skill ceiling. I don’t think Windjammers 2 will take over Rocket League, but it’s definitely something to watch out for in upcoming competitive circuits, because it’s not only fun to play, it’s very fun to watch. While there’s an urge to just try to throw your disc into your opponent’s goal, strategy and positioning play a key part in success for Windjammers 2.

Screenshot: Windjammers 2

While the gist of Windjammers 2 is just throw your disc to score on your opponent, there are multiple ways to do that—or prevent your opponent from scoring on you. You can try to lob a shot over the net to score 2 or 4 points (depending on the arena) or try to get 3 or 5 points by sneaking your disc past your opponent—or shoving them into their own goal with a power shot. Each of the 10 arenas in Windjammers 2 are different thematically, but they also have different scoring zones. This requires you to vary strategies from arena to arena.

There are 10 characters to choose from, and each of these characters has their own balance of speed and power. Fast characters are more agile, while those with more power can unleash powerful shots. Each character also has a unique special move which can be unleashed once the power meter reaches full. There are also a variety of different strategies to employ—you can dive to grab discs, and fling them back with a charged up power-shot. You can try to trick your opponent or just outmaneuver and outposition them. Speed and reflexes play a huge part, but so does the ability to trick or psyche out your opponent. It’s exhilarating to pull off a perfect feint.

Screenshot: Windjammers 2

There are a few ways to play Windjammers 2. There’s an arcade mode that allows you to choose your favorite  character and have them face off against a series of opponents to become the next Windjammer champion. You have two credits to get through Arcade mode, but filling up your experience bar gives you another credit. You do this either by winning rounds, or scoring well in bonus matches. There isn’t much of a story, but it’s a way to practice your skills for what makes Windjammers 2 really fun: playing competitively, either online or in local versus modes. If you’re playing online you can play casually, or try out the competitive Ranked Matches.

Windjammers 2 is surprisingly great arcade game, and is already one of my favorite games of 2022. It has tight gameplay that most will be able to pick up and play—but with a skill ceiling that gives Windjammers 2 potential e-sports legs. Whether it takes off in the competitive scene or not, it’s still a great game for friends to play against each other locally—and it helps that it’s very fun to watch.

Windjammers 2 is out today for PC via Steam and on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 as well as Xbox  One.

 

A Nintendo Switch key was provided to us for the purposes of this review. 

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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, video game historian, and small streamer.
He is also the editor of the Games and Tech section but does not get paid for his work at 3CR.
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