PAX East Preview: Windjammers 2

Back in the ’90s, the Neo-Geo was home to arguably the best arcade games money could buy. The main reason the console never took off was due to its prohibitive price: $650 for the console. Games weren’t much better, costing anywhere from $200 to $300 per cartridge. This was because the machine was basically an arcade cabinet, but clearly a kid making money from chores couldn’t afford SNK’s console.

This high barrier to entry created a scenario where a lot of otherwise amazing games went overlooked for decades. One such was the fighting game/sports title hybrid Windjammers. After becoming something of a cult classic in the years since its release, an eventual PS4/Vita port (that would find its way to Switch) introduced the game to a new generation looking for some kooky ’90s action.

Either because of word of mouth or the success of that port, a sequel was announced during one of Nintendo’s Direct streams in 2018. Developed by DotEmu, this new iteration would expand the roster, give the game updated visuals, and even introduce brand new moves for players to master. Fans of the Neo-Geo original were likely ecstatic at the chance to jump back on the court and throw Frisbees.

PAX East 2020 won’t be the first time this is playable to the public. In fact, Windjammers 2 was present at PAX last year. In the time since its reveal, we’ve learned that DotEmu isn’t looking to simply recreate the original with more stuff. This sequel is an evolution of the original formula with art inspired by the cabinet designs SNK used in the 90s.

As such, initial looks at the game might make you think this is more of a spiritual successor than a true sequel. When you get into playing it, though, you’ll feel right at home. The original’s simple control scheme isn’t being tampered with too much and all of the crazy special moves are back. This still feels like an amazing marriage of fighting games with sports titles.

What a sequel could hope to achieve is simply expanding the roster and catering to more audiences. With the gaming market having expanded significantly since the ’90s, there’s no reason for Windjammers to stick with such limited content.

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