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November 18 2017

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  Wind Jammers - ©Data East 1994 (Review 2)





Click here to view the image gallery for this game -->


Game Stats
Other:
Players:
1 or 2 players

Type:
Pong with a Frisbee!

Size:
74 Megs
Japanese Name:

Flying Power Disk

Released On:

Home/MVS/CD




Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
- Puzzle Bobble/Bust A Move (Neo Geo)
- Windjammers (Neo Geo)


Review Introduction:

A while back, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and purchased a Neo Geo 4-Slot ver.3 MVS cabinet for my game room. Of course, once the restoration process was complete (another story for a different day), I began tracking down games. After dropping a stupid amount of quarters into an old 2-slot at Roman’s Pizza as a child, in a time 5 dollars in quarters was mass riches, I had a few titles that were “must haves” for my cabinet. However, after procuring the pocket-robbers of my youth, I still had a few slots left to fill. I began searching for fun, unique, and most importantly, good games to rotate through those slots. Not only that, but I tend to lean toward games that I can play with my wife, who makes up for her novice status with aggression and passion (along with the occasional hip check from the Player 2 position…). With that in mind, let’s jump into the first game to be reviewed…Windjammers! Windjammers: You literally JAM the WIND!

Characters:

Okay, so maybe there is no actual jamming of wind in this title, but even if there was it would just be a fancy way of saying, “You play pong.” Two characters face off and throw a Frisbee (for our Japanese-speaking players this is the FLYING POWER DISK!) back and forth. There are walls and little obstacles in the middle of some of the courts off of which to bounce the disk, and you can throw the disk with spin and such, but that’s the gameplay. Each player has a sectioned “net” behind him/her and each section is worth either 3 or 5 points. You score by throwing the disk past your opponent and into one of those sections. There are also “Special Powerful Moves” which reward good timing and punish bad, and these serve as a fun wildcard element in matches. Don’t let the perceived simplicity of Windjammers throw you off though; this title takes a very simple premise and builds upon it to deliver one of the most satisfying arcade games that I have ever played. Trust me, just keep reading…

Accessibility:

See, this is where that simple premise really stands out. When I first purchased this game, my wife came into my game room, saw the game, and asked to jump in. After she found a quarter (kidding), I restarted the machine and she slid beside me. Now, for some reason still unknown to me, my wife absolutely despises “How-To-Play” instructional clips before games; she just wants to jump in and play. With that in mind, after watching the brief, if not overly detailed video (…yes, the joystick moves 8 different ways. You don’t have to show me all of them!), she simply asked, “Is that it? It’s just the “A” and “B” buttons?”

Again, the simplicity here isn’t a knock. My wife had an absolute blast from the first round and she never felt like she was overwhelmed by the controls. To put it in perspective, her two favorite Neo Geo games right now are Bust-A-Move and Windjammers. Besides being a testament to her taste in deceptively simple games with depth, I would say that the “pick up and play” factor of those two titles are comparable.

Style/Feel:

Have you ever used the term “tubular” to describe something? Did you acid wash your jeans while pounding Surge soda and arguing with your friends over your favorite MTV VJ? Do you remember when the most immediate threat to our children was Bart Simpson? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you are in for a blast from the past treat in Windjammers. “The early 90’s as depicted by Data East developers who obviously never visited California” would be the best description of the visual style in Windjammers. It actually adds to the fun. I like to pretend that the 90’s never ended and international relations are handled WITH DA DISK, KID. Seriously, it’s delightful.

Graphics:

The graphics are typical early 90’s Neo Geo fare so they are lacking when compared to later games that utilized more “Megs.” However, Data East made the wise decision to embrace the graphical limitations rather than fight them. Characters are rendered as cartoonish in appearance and everything is kept rather simple. Again, Data East created a fun game and made sure that factor remained the focus.

Sound:

Since the graphics were going to be limited, Windjammers went all in with the music. The character select theme will live in your mind well after you’ve stopped playing. There is also a bit of spoken audio which, at the time, was one of the things you’d brag about to your console-playing friends. The music fits perfectly with the feel of the game and surprisingly doesn’t time-stamp the game. You’d figure that a game as “1990’s” as Windjammers would cop-out with popular styles from that era, but the tunes are unique enough to be their own thing. This was a nice touch that has allowed the game to not age as severally in that music department as it might have. As a lot of retro games age, not taking anything away from the game is as important as adding something. The music accomplishes that here.

Replay Factor/2-Player Appeal:

I’m combining these two aspects in my game reviews because I feel that these factors are intertwined when it comes to Neo Geo MVS titles. The game itself, as a single player experience, is a delight; the difficulty ramps up a good deal as your move forward, and the mini games of a dog catching the disk and disk-bowling add an additional element to high score pursuit. Where this game really shines though, is the 2-player battles. My wife and I started in on this thing and time simply got away from us. The matches are relatively quick, so you never get bogged down and have to grind out matches. The actual speed of the gameplay keeps you on edge and the matches fresh. This is definitely a game that should be experienced with a second player. Because the gameplay and controls are so simple, the distance in skill between players diminishes pretty quickly. This leaves a two player experience where winner and loser will leave happy.

Fun Details / Special Mention:

  • Obstacles in the middle of some courts, but not all, make for an additional challenge. It’s the courts with and without obstacles play differently and you have to change strategy accordingly.

  • The referee turns her head to follow the disk. This help to flesh out the world a little bit and makes it seem like a more organic game, as opposed to just pong with characters for paddles.

  • The disk bouncing off the walls, which shake and rattle when hit, makes the most satisfying sound in the world.

  • The characters, though divided by player skill level, are actually pretty balanced and your choice should depend more on play style than level. Admittedly, some special moves are more effective than others.

  • Price vs. Experience:

    In my opinion, even the high cost of admission shouldn't deter a Neo Geo fan away from picking up Windjammers. This is one of those instances where the price is high because the game is actually fun. The game is simple, but it is just so much fun. It is a great addition to any “Big Red” cab or CMVs.

    Final Thoughts:

    Damn this game is fun with a second player. That’s what I really want to focus on in this section. I would completely buy this game even if I only had myself to play it with, but the accessibility and simplicity of Windjammers all but guarantees that you will always be able to find someone to play it with. Do yourself a favor and take a trip to the strange world of a 90’s California as envisioned by a Japanese game developer. If you are the type of gamer who realizes that a game can lack in depth as long as it is genuinely fun to play, then Windjammers is for you.

    Overall Rating: 8.5/10

    Overall 2-Player: 9.5/10


    Author Profile:

    Dillon Tripp graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program at Old Dominion University and is the Director of the Writing Center at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, TN. Tripp is an avid Neo Geo fan and specializes in MVS and the Neo Geo Pocket Color, as well as game/arcade modification and restoration. He lives in Jackson with his Russian wife (who is better than him at Bust-A-Move) and two cats (who aren’t very good at Bust-A-Move). If you are looking for a writer or just want to say “hey,” please contact me via personal message. Thanks for reading!

    Outside Links:
    Related Reviews:

    Reviews @ Neo-Geo.com:


    Review by Dan Elektro

    Above links open in a new window.
    - Flipshot
    Another Pong style game!

    - Bang Bead
    The sequel to Flipshot and VERY rare.


    Back to Neo Geo Reviews -->


      Comments
    #1 | LIFE_IN_2D on July 11 2015 06:17
    Very entertaining review. Welcome to the site. BTW, all women love Puzzle Bobble and Windjammers. Have you shown your wife Magical Drop III?
    #2 | MiniGoat_King on July 18 2015 22:44
    Thanks man. Yes, I have! She isn't quiet as huge of a fan because of how fast paced it happens to be. However, I believe she will come around after playi enough Smile
    #3 | priest on July 21 2015 09:11
    Thanks for this review, 'goat' Smile
    #4 | MiniGoat_King on July 21 2015 17:09
    But of course! "Meeh." Smile

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