Windjammers, what a niche game. Not many people know about this 1994 Arcade title that was ported to the Neo Geo. Windjammers is a sports game that’s similar in a way to Sanrio World Smash Ball!, in that it involves throwing a disc back and forth on a horizontal field/court into your opponent’s goal. The game has a bit of a cult following, and is still played competitively at popular video game events. The game seems simple enough, but does that mean the game is still fun today?
Let me start this off by saying that I have only played the arcade version of Windjammers once. It was at like 5am at Magfest and I was really drunk, and quite frankly, I don’t really remember how the game felt control wise, but I remember enjoying the game enough. The version I’m going to go off of is the PS4 rerelease of the game. The goal of single player Windjammers is simple, beat every opponent. You can pick one of eight characters, each with different speed and power. This adds variety to the selection. Do you want somebody who’s quick but not the hardest thrower? Do you want a tank? Do you want an average Joe? The choice is yours. There are several different courts to play on. There’s a grass field, a clay court, a beach, tiled, and more. No one court is the same, with them varying in size. Some courts have gimmicks as well. One court has pegs that bounce the disc a different way than the direction you threw it in. The other has an ever changing goal color sizes. What does this mean? Well, the yellow parts of the goal in Windjammers give you three points when hit. The red parts, usually smaller and harder to hit, give you five points. The first character to get 12 points wins a match. Two match victories wins a set, and you’re onto the next character. You have the option to throw the disc directly at the other side of the court or lob it up in the air. Lobbing the disc lets you throw it all the way across the court, but it gives the other character the chance to charge their super move.
Each character has a supermove that can force the disc into the opposing goal, sometimes even when the opponent catches it. These supermoves are activated by waiting under a lobbed disc for a certain amount of time. These moves are fun to pull off. Windjammers is really mindless fun, and I’ve had many a good time playing it. I have no issues with the gameplay. The controls of Windjammers are okay. Using a PS4 controller to move on a vertical court with a fast moving character while having to react quickly feels a bit awkward in 2018. You have the ability to throw the disc incredibly fast if you throw it as soon as you catch it, but the super fast throw only works when it wants to. The moving controls are bit awkward, and it’s hard to pinpoint why. It almost feels as if the characters have a sort of invisible momentum to them with no resistance. This is probably a mental thing, but it kinda grates at me when I play the game. The controls are a bit iffy, but also I’m playing a 24 year old game on a PS4, so it might just be the port.
The graphics of Windjammers are great. The game is colorful, vibrant, and the disc and characters really pop. The game is absolute eye candy to look at, and still looks great today. The music is great too. The soundtrack is very upbeat and has a mid 90s vibe to it. The soundtrack and graphics are most definitely the parts of the game that have held up the best.
Windjammers is still a fun time, and even though the controls aren’t great, I still enjoy playing the game. The gameplay is fun, the graphics are beautiful, and the soundtrack packs everything together in a nice sports package. Windjammers has aged well for the most part.