Don’t worry, fris­bee happy

Games Master - - REVIEW | REVIEW ROUNDUP - Robin Valen­tine

Orig­i­nally re­leased nearly 25 years ago for Neo Geo, this pseudo-sports game is… well, it’s ba­si­cally Pong, with more bells and whis­tles, and this re­mas­ter doesn’t seek to add much more than cleaner menus, on­line mul­ti­player, and a place on mod­ern con­soles. Yet, in its sim­plic­ity, Wind­jam­mers finds that rarest of qual­i­ties: time­less­ness. Played head-to-head with a friend, this Fris­bee-toss­ing take on take on vol­ley­ball is a joy, with no nos­tal­gia fil­ter re­quired. Thanks to the resur­gence of pixel art and lo­cal mul­ti­player in the in­die gam­ing scene, it weirdly feels more mod­ern than ever – ac­tu­ally more so than later im­i­ta­tors such as Disc Jam.

Ac­ces­si­ble con­trols and a bril­liantly easy-to-un­der­stand con­cept en­sure any­one can get up to speed with Wind­jam­mers in min­utes; hid­den depths and a spirit of fierce com­pe­ti­tion will keep you com­ing back time af­ter time. A fight­ing-game-style ros­ter of char­ac­ters, each with their own spe­cial moves, are in place to pro­vide va­ri­ety, but what re­ally keeps things fresh is the drive to outdo your op­po­nent. Be­fore you know it, you’re fever­ishly de­vel­op­ing new strate­gies and mind games, and fight­ing to ex­e­cute them in the split sec­ond the fris­bee crosses the net.

DotEmu, the team be­hind this re­mas­ter, has done the game jus­tice, but kept a light touch. Every­thing runs smoothly, it looks great on mod­ern TVs, and has a smat­ter­ing of ba­sic op­tions. On­line, how­ever, is a dis­ap­point­ment: buggy, of­ten barely func­tional, and hand­i­capped even on launch by a low player base, it’s hardly worth start­ing up, let alone en­gag­ing with enough to work your way up its crude rank­ing sys­tem. For­get the in­ter­net, then – Wind­jam­mers’ arena is the liv­ing room, and there it shines just as brightly as it did in 1994.

Mini-games help vary up the ar­cade mode. You can even play fris­bee with your dog. Aww!

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