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Windjammers

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Released: 1994

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Neo Geo

Publisher: Data East

Developer: Data East

We’re not going to lie, we’ve been kind of preoccupied with arcade thrills lately – between Darran’s purchase of a cabinet and Nick’s quest to build a custom Neo Geo set-up, it’s not hard to see why. So last night, Jon and Drew were introduced to one of the greatest arcade sports games of all time, Data East’s Windjammers.

Watching them play back and forth in a heated rally really drove home why the game is so good. At its heart, this game is little different to Pong. You take control of a single player and try to chuck a frisbee – sorry, a flying disc – past a single opponent to score points. First to 12 or the highest scorer at the end of the set wins, and you need to win two sets to win the match. Simple, right?

Of course, that’s not the end of the story. For a start, there are sometimes obstacles on the court, changing the disc’s rebound, and scoring zones are worth differing numbers of points. Then there are the tricky things you can do – curved shots by rotating the stick as you throw, or drop shots your opponent won’t catch. Anticipate your opponent’s shot well and you’ll be able to charge up a super shot, with a powerful and unusual trajectory.

Like all the best arcade games, Windjammers is simple to learn and hard to master – and it’s an excellent competitive game as a result. Factor in some gloriously Nineties graphics and sound and you have a genuine classic.