Windjammers is an extreme flying disc-themed sports arcade game released in 1994, and was Data East’s second title for the Neo Geo arcade machine.
Up to two players compete against one-another in an arena battle to score as many goals as possible, while a countdown timer ticks down. (The countdown can be set from anywhere from 1-99 seconds per round, and comes set default to 30 second rounds.) With lightning-quick gameplay, the Player needs fast reflexes to catch the flying disc, and stop the other player (or the CPU) from scoring on any one of their nets. Similar to a fast game of air hockey, this game moves really quickly!
Each Player selects from one of eight characters, each who exhibit their own special talents in-game by the means of their own signature throws. There are two character choices for every ‘level’ of Player – Beginner, Medium and Expert.
For the Beginner, the Player can select either Hiromi Mita from Japan or Beeho Yoo from Korea. (Beeho Yoo can be replaced by Steve Miller from the UK with a quick change to the BIOS settings. The character artwork remains the same, however, the voice of the character is changed.)
Hiromi Mita has very high speed, very low power, and uses the “Fire Snake” signature throw, which causes the disc to erupt in a flame wave, which then snakes up and down the court towards the goal.
Beeho Yoo (or Steve Miller) has high speed, low power, and uses the “Sideburner” signature throw, which, using either an up or down direction, causes the disc to travel and bounce off the side walls, where it will then accelerate as it gets nearer to the goal.
For the Medium skill level, the Player can select either Jordi Costa from Spain or Loris Biaggi from Italy. Each of these characters has medium speed and medium power, making them fairly evenly matched against one-another.
Jordi Costa uses the “Rocket Diagonal” signature throw, which will cause the disc to make small, quick zig-zagging motions across the court, these zig-zags increasing in size as the disc travels.
Loris Biaggi uses the “Thunder Loop” signature throw. When the disc is tossed using this throw, it makes large circular motions, bouncing violently off the walls, and does loops until it hits the goal.
For the Experts, the Player can select either Gary Scott from the United States or Klaus Wessel from Germany.
Gary Scott has low power, high speed, and uses the “Missile Throw” signature throw, whereby the character whips the disc at the walls, where it will bounce up and down very quickly and with a lot of strength.
Klaus Wessel has very low power, very high speed, and uses the “Blitzkrieg” signature throw, which causes the disc to travel in a very specific path – flying up, forward, down, and then forward – and in a repeating pattern. While the speed is a bit slow, don’t be fooled! The force behind this throw is strong, and catching the disc can be very tricky!
There are six courts available, each with their own appearance and unique characteristics:
The Beach Court is the smallest court available, and has a 5 point zone in the center and two 3 point zones on the edge of the play field. The Lawn Court is the second largest court available, with a 5 point zone in the center and two 3 point zones on each of the edges. The Tiled Court is the second smallest court available, with a 3 point zone in the center and two 5 point zones on the edges. The Concrete Court is the same size as the Lawn and Clay courts, except it has two barriers located close to the walls. When the Player throws a disc and it hits a barrier, the disc will bounce off at an angle, making it more challenging for the defending Player to catch. 5 point zone in the center and 3 point zones on the edges.
The Clay Court is the same size as the Lawn and Concrete courts, except with two barriers located in the centre of the arena. There is a 5 point zone in the center and two 3 point zones on each of the edges. The Stadium Court is the largest court available, with a 5 point zone in the center and two 3 point zones on each of the edges. In this arena, the central 5 point zone increases in size every time the Player scores more than once in a row, giving the Player with less points a greater opportunity to catch up.
Once you’ve selected your character, the game starts and doesn’t let up. Each Player has to score 12 points to win their set, or have the greatest number of points when the timer runs out, and the Player needs to win two out of three sets to take the round. The exception to this rule is if both players are within three points of each other. (For example, if Player 1 has 11 points and Player 2 scores a goal giving them 12 points, Player 2 doesn’t automatically win.) Game play continues until one Player has a lead of over two points.
The Player controlling the character holding the disc cannot move, but must either throw (Button 1) the disc, or lob (Button 2) the disc into the air. The Player controlling the defending character can either block (Button 1) or slide to catch (Button 1 + the directional stick) and intercept the disc. While powered up, the Player’s character can throw using their signature throw (Button 1) or throw a rolling lob (Button 2) shot that will launch the disc over your opponent’s head, to land in front of their goal and (hopefully) to roll right in!
When you’re playing defense, blocking helps to set you up to throw the disc using your character’s specific signature throw. When the disc is coming at your Player, pressing Button 1 to block and your disc will be deflected into the air, with a crosshair appearing on the play field to show where the disc will fall. Get to this spot quickly, and your character will start posing – signifying that they can now power up to use the signature throw. Once you’re in the crosshairs and posing, tapping Button 1 will power your character up, and then when you catch the disc, let it fly to unleash your special move!
Points are scored in various ways. The Player can score three points for a goal on a yellow area, and five points for a goal on a red area. If a Player drops the disc, the opposing Player scores two points. The final way is to fire a powerful enough shot that you drive your opponent back into their own goal! (This is dependent on how strong the throw is, and how close the opponent is to the net.)
If you’re able to win two rounds, you’ll get to the Bonus Round. The first Bonus Round is called “Dog Distance”, where you’re going to play fetch with Man’s Best Friend. A woman on the beach will toss a disc, and as soon as it is received, the Player must press Button 1 quickly to perform a fast throw, and thus, giving the most distance. Once aloft, the Player is then put in control of the dog. Avoiding all obstacles in the path, the dog will run after the disc as it travels up and then starts falling. Once it has dropped close enough to be in range, the Player will press Button 1 to have the dog jump and catch the disc before it falls on the ground.
The next Bonus Round that appears later is called “Flying Disc Bowling”, and is exactly what you would expect. The Player presses Button 1 to throw the disc at some pins and tries to knock down the ones that remain standing for a ‘spare’. After two tries, the pins are reset, which is very similar to actual bowling rules. Control of the disc is exactly the same as in-game, so the Player is able to throw quickly, or throw curves, to help get the best score.
If the Player is able to progress through all 8 levels, which get progressively more difficult if played against the CPU, then they are crowned as the winner of the game, and are applauded by the crowd. The day ends, and the Player is presented with the Data East logo against a beautiful sunset, before showing the final screen.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced arcade game that is pretty easy to play and where the action doesn’t stop, then Windjammers will definitely give you a good run for your money. Pit yourself against the CPU, or find another Player to go up against for two-player action that won’t disappoint! So, pop in a quarter, power up your signature throw and get ready to score goals in Windjammers!
Special thanks to Malenko, from the Arcade Controls forums, for recommending “Windjammers” for our Retro Rewind Friday. If you have a game that you would like to see Gameroom Designs showcase, Submit a game for Retro Rewind Friday!