Windjammers 2 is a game I have been waiting a very long time for. The original never came to PC and quite frankly, I didn’t want to play it on console. Mainly because there was a noticeable bit of input lag that tends to come with games on console vs PC and this is most prevalent with Fighting Games. So, was Windjammers 2 worth the wait? I would say a resounding yes. Why, you ask? Well, read on and I’ll show you why.
Off the bat, you’ll notice Windjammers has an extremely pleasing and fantastic art style. It has what I’d call a very 80s style to it. All the characters scream 80s along with the whole vibe with the crowds and music. This goes straight into the character design too; all the characters seem like they’ve been ripped from an 80s TV show. Personally, I find them fantastic. The colour palette is great and I have nothing negative to say about Windjammers 2 visually bar one thing…If you’re playing on PC, you will find no graphics options. The game seems to be 720p, based on windowed mode, and then scales with resolution. If you don’t have integer scaling, this means the game can look very blurry, and even with integer scaling it still is a little bit. This is the only thing I find disappointing about the visual package. I didn’t assume we would get 4K sprites or anything of that nature, but I did expect some internal scaling to higher resolutions. It’s a minor blemish on an otherwise fantastic visual package.
Games consist of 2 sets and each map has 3 and 5 point zones as well as point zones for misses. The first person to get 15 points wins the set. Matches tend to be quite quick and I had a lot of matches in an hour. There is an arcade mode with easy, medium, and hard difficulties in addition to an online mode with ranked play. Online mode has quick match options, playing with friends, and so on. Ranked matches give you around 32 points per win and once you reach a certain number of points you rank up. There are also have win streaks and the higher the streak, the more points you get per win. Don’t worry though, if you have a losing streak the penalty is not as significant. In my opinion, the ranking system is very well designed. Controller-wise, it seems to detect DirectInput and Xinput controllers out of the box with no help from Steam. Although, it only has UI for Xbox controllers.
There is no real tutorial to Windjammer, apart from a visual manual, and it does become immediately apparent as you get deeper in that there’s a surprising amount of depth to this game. There are fully-charged shots, timed shots, and so on, on top of lobbing and throwing. There are also special shots done by a fully-charged meter which are unique to every character, some of which are very hard to read. Just like a fighting game, you need to get used to match-ups. It’s obvious early on that just blocking and pressing A to throw will not win you any serious games. Timing is key. And not only that, movement and positioning are essential as well as learning to read your opponent. Every character has their own speed and power stats, in addition to their specials, and this helps each character feel unique mechanically and not just visually.
Windjammers 2 also has a variety of unique stages that further change the game. Course sizes are different, the points scored for misses and the 5 and 3 point zones are completely different, and there are even courses with obstacles that move when hit in the middle, allowing for ricocheting that you would not get on any other court. This really helps in keeping Windjammers feel fresh with every match. The courses are sublime and I cannot praise them enough. It will take some time to master every course, match up, get movement and reads right, and so forth. I will be spending a lot of time with Windjammers 2.
Now, a key thing with a game that requires quick reactions and reflexes, is the network code. It lives and dies by it. I am happy to report that the rollback netcode, despite my experience in the PS5 beta, is very good. I would give it an A-. I have had one occasion where I did not seem to see a throw, but that was an extremely rare occurrence within the hour. Matches with 268 ping players felt incredibly smooth and not laggy in the slightest. In regard to cross-play, the game has none, although while I was playing on Steam I was paired with Xbox players, so there’s that. This means you can play with people in the same network ecosystem.
The soundtrack is another thing that screams 80s. The tracks are all perfect for the game. There is a decent range in genres and everything feels unique and has a nice beat and feel to them. I wasn’t expecting too much from the soundtrack, but it has really surprised me. It is genuinely good. The voices for the characters are serviceable and what you would expect from a game like Windjammers and its vibe. The sound effects are adequate, but the OST is the king of the show audio-wise. In fact, I think they should be offering it as a separate purchase. There were definitely times when I was busy doing other things where having this soundtrack in the background would’ve been very fitting.
Windjammers has launched with an RRP of £15.49 but has a 10% discount until January 27th bringing it down to £13.94. At this price, given the quality of the overall package and the fantastic addictive gameplay that has enough going on to never get fatiguing, or dare I say boring, buying this is a no-brainer. It is legitimately one of my favourite MP games in recent years and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you watch the trailer and are interested, or want to give the 2-hour Steam refund a go to see if it’s for you, I highly recommend you do so.