Windjammers is a Neo Geo classic. Back in 1994, it gave people a chance to fling frisbees at one another in a competitive fashion, attempting to get one into a goal for points. But for those who have never played it before, the appeal may not be easy to understand. It could look a lot like Pong, what with the two people acting as paddles, the frisbee as a ball, and the various goals. But there’s much more to it than that. It’s a very advanced game, one which works best locally so you can use what you’ve learned, the various moves, and your knowledge of your opponent to your advantage.
Part of this is the range of movement and moveset the six characters possess. Each one has different speed and power ranges, which influence how fast they can move around the field and the strength of their throws. After all, a well timed and executed strong throw can force an opponent back and into their goal even if they catch it. Every character can receive or slide when going for a catch. When taking a shot, you can go with a standard one that you aim, move the analog stick at the same time for curved shots, a lob, or even a Supersonic shot if you time the reception right. If you’re standing under the disc and charging, you could use a Super Custom, Super Spin, and Super Lob.
Knowing how to properly use each character and their skills involves quite a bit of finesse. Running around like crazy isn’t going to help. Getting excited and constantly sliding could cause you to overshoot when a disc is in the air and you should be standing still and charging. You need to understand how each one moves, taking into account speed and range of all movements. Especially on the six different courts, as each one has its own goal sizes and unique properties. The Clay and Concrete courts have barriers that cause frisbees to bounce awkwardly off of them, altering their trajectory. The Stadium has a zone with a five point zone that gradually grows if one of the players gets successive shots.
Playing Windjammers well means being able to put up a good front. You want to put together a good back and forth rhythm. Maybe lull someone into a false sense of security. You could try and lure them to a certain area of the court. Maybe avoid using a certain sort of throw, then suddenly pull it off. You need to have different strategies for every character and court, knowing how to make the most of any situation. The minigames help with this, as the dog minigame helps you work on moving a character. Bowling helps with your aim and strength of a throw.
Being able to knowing and read your opponent is also rather critical. Having online multiplayer is great in Windjammers. It works well, and I haven’t had any trouble finding quick or ranked matches. But there is something about being in the same room as someone to play. You get to hear their feedback as you play. It’s almost like a card game. People may have tells you pick up on when you’re in the same room. You can read their responses to your actions, hear if they’re about to prepare a certain sort of attack. I feel like it is best when everyone is in the same room, but those who don’t have that luxury will find the online multiplayer working rather well.
There’s a lot to Windjammers. It may seem like a superficial sort of game. After all, it’s building on a Pong formula. But there’s just so much to it. The six characters and six courts require you to really think about your actions and movements, as well as be aware of what your opponent may be capable of. It’s about knowing the sorts of shots you have access to and how to properly use them. It’s only after spending a lot of time getting to know everyone that you might find yourself in a good place to start climbing the ranked charts or trouncing your friends.
Windjammers is available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.