Windjammers (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 13.08.2019

Review for Windjammers on Nintendo Switch

Originally released for the Neo Geo in 1994, Windjammers (originally titled Flying Power Disc in Japan) took the classic Pong formula, and added a level of flare and speed that frankly should not have worked nearly as well as it did. Despite being blatantly designed for competitive play, the world simply wasn't ready for Pong's natural, bombastic successor, prompting Data East to quietly put their Power Disc action to rest. Until now, that is. Nearly 25 years after its release, Windjammers makes its triumphant return, complete with online play and a flame that won't be put out anytime soon.

When directly compared to other competitive arcade titles from its era, Windjammers doesn't quite pale in comparison to, say, Street Fighter II Turbo, which also released in 1994. There isn't quite the same degree of depth present in Data East's Frisbee battler and while that may have more or less sealed the title's fate at the time, it doesn't cheapen the experience by any means. What's lacking in mechanical depth is more than made up for with an emphasis on high octane action, though.

Even when playing against easy CPUs, the disc flies fast, requiring quick reflexes at virtually every turn. Gameplay is very much twitch-based, especially on higher difficulties or against skilled opponents. There isn't much a character can pull off with their innate set of skills outside of a fairly easy to toggle super move, but it's exactly this limitation which allows each round to truly thrive.

Although all of the six characters have their own stats and parameters, they all play by the same rules. The disc can be flung, curved, and thrown overhead whenever it's in play; dashing plays a major role in the moment to moment gameplay, often being necessary to catch the disc; and each character has their own unique super which can do anything from trail on the sides of the arena or lunge straight into opponents to knock the disc into one of the three goals.

Rounds end after someone reaches 12 points, but gaining points isn't as simple as firing the disc behind the opposition. Rather, there are three goals at any given time. The uppermost and lowermost goals are typically easier to target, but only award three points. The centremost goal, coloured pink for convenience, is difficult to hit, but bestows a competitor five points. Along with the scoring system, allowing the disc to fall at any point awards the opposition two points.

Screenshot for Windjammers on Nintendo Switch

The longer the disc is in play, the faster is generally becomes. While on-stage obstacles can slow the disc down, the more chaotic moments come when both players are firing the disc back at one another, building enough speed to eventually loosen someone's control. Between dashing and curving the discus, each round creates its own rhythmic frenzy.

Just as much as characters affect how the disc will move as per their stats, so do stages. Different stages feature different obstacles. The basic beach is the most traditional, offering nothing in the way of stage hazards, simply allowing the disc to travel between two competitors. Other stages might place a barricade in the centre, however, that can be used to spike the disc quickly or simply build up momentum.

Of course, it is worth noting that Windjammers is at its best when played with others. A feat that may be difficult to pull off as the title isn't particularly popular. As is the fate given to all obscure competitive titles, the online scene is more or less already dead. It isn't impossible to find a match, but the servers aren't exactly thriving. Once the sequel releases, whatever online play is left will likely fade out completely.

That said, it is a good thing that DotEmu added online in the first place. Finding a match is thrilling, and there's an addictive quality to tossing the disc back and forth. Even against CPUs, there's plenty of fun to be had on a mechanical level. Windjammers isn't the next big thing to break into the competitive scene, but it is a charming take on the Pong formula - which is really all it needed to be.

Screenshot for Windjammers on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Fast, frantic, and far more addictive than it initially lets on, Windjammers is a wild reimagining of Pong, with a well-rounded competitive edge. While there isn't too much depth in terms of what players can pull off, the core mechanics make each round a thrill, emphasizing fast paced action above all else. As expected, the online scene is far from thriving, but playing locally or just with CPUs more than gets the job done. Windjammers is a welcome reminder of how chaotic the arcade scene was in the early '90s.

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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