It’s funny how we’re seeing a renaissance of Neo-Geo games on new consoles as of late. The Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One alike are getting ports of classic games like Magician Lord, Spinmaster and others, thanks to a newfound push by the team at Hamster. Perhaps they realize that classic games, no matter what platform they get released for, will still find an audience in this day and age.
And that’s also something DotEmu is counting on. Mere months after releasing Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap for a new generation to enjoy, they’ve gone and resurrected the classic Neo-Geo sports game Windjammers, which basically acts as a “battle Frisbee” sort of game, as you attempt to score goals while making stylish catches and using every defensive tool in your arsenal to keep the score in your favor.
The game was heavily overlooked with its initial release, but DotEmu recognized the competitive potential of it, and decided to give it a second chance on the market. Honestly, I’m glad they did. Even though I’m not quite as good at it as other disc masters on the market (is that what they’re called?), it’s a fun old-school treat that’s even better if you’ve got a good player to go up against.
So, the general idea of the game is to throw a “battle disc” (because Frisbee already got used once) back and forth until you score a goal. You can actually add some pizzazz to it, bouncing off walls and using souped-up speed to try and get it past your rival. Think air hockey, but with a lot more finesse and personality. (Oh, and rocket speed.)
An Old-School Jam
The graphics still look like something out of the vintage Neo-Geo era, so don’t expect a hi-res makeover like The Dragon’s Trap got. That said, the top-down perspective works wonderfully for it, as you can see all the action that’s happening. It’s also a nice touch to see the disc fly in and out of the screen as it’s deflected, adding a layer of depth to an otherwise 2D perspective type of game.
The audio’s not much either, but there’s fun background music here, and the announcements are pretty spot-on. We wouldn’t blame you if you prefer to blare some “battle music” in the background tho.
Where Windjammers really stands out is its gameplay. This game is pretty damn old, but the fact is it feels fresher than ever, thanks to its brilliant battle tactics and building challenges. Even if you think you’ve gotten the hang of the basics, you’ll get introduced to a player or two that mean serious business and will have you rethinking a few strategies in an effort to get better. That’s the thing about the game – it’ll seem frustrating at first, but then it suddenly clicks and you feel like you can master anything that gets thrown at you. And even then, you’ll be pushed to try even harder.
The game’s arcade mode is just a portion of the fun, though. Windjammers also offers ample multiplayer options. Your best bet is local, since playing against a friend is a ton of fun, and you can literally taunt one another as you score goals and eventually build up your skills.prevnext
A Frisbee Game With Strength
There’s also online multiplayer, but it’s spotty. Some matches we played were smooth, but others were a bit janky and actually led to a disconnect. We understand DotEmu is trying to work more on this – especially when it comes to building up the competitive side of the game, esports wise – but we hope it gets patched soon. This is something that deserves the best servers money can buy.
While Windjammers has a steep learning curve and spotty online play, it still clicks in a fun old-school way. The gameplay is surprisingly deep for a Neo-Geo game, and has a lot to offer if you’re willing to learn. The presentation is retro-ized in the best way possible, and the local multiplayer is a trip. And, on top of that, it’s fun to take both with you and on the go, as the game supports Cross-Buy. And we could always use more Vita games.
I encourage players to check this game out, even if it doesn’t quite top their list when it comes to competitive efforts. After all, no harm in trying something new, right? Or old, rather. The Neo-Geo lives!
RATING: Four out of five stars.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.prevnext