Windjammers 2 shows a great way to update a Neo Geo classic

For the previous years approximately, I’ve encountered a constant issue reviewing timeless Neo Geo video games. It constantly begins with something interesting — normally, a statement that a video game I enjoyed maturing is being ported to a brand-new console. And it usually ends in frustration, with the memory of my experience beating the video game itself.

Prior to I get too far into this, let’s caution a couple things. For one, this doesn’t use to all Neo Geo video games. A handful — usually, those that go heavy on animation, like the Metal Slug series and Garou: Mark of the Wolves — hold up magnificently. For another, I still think about an excellent quantity of the system’s library to be a few of the very best creative accomplishments of the ’90s.

However when I return to a good part of the early Neo Geo lineup, I understand just how much the phenomenon was a huge part of the point at that time. Now that we’re 20 — or, sometimes, 30 — years out, putting huge characters on the screen isn’t as remarkable as it as soon as was. So I’ve been itching to see a few of these video games remade, or to see follows up that upgrade their visuals along the lines of the instructions SNK went with King of Fighters 12 and 13, instead of its present 3D method.

With Windjammers 2, developer Dotemu is scratching that itch. Using a sharp yet simple art style that’s similar to that of video games like Streets of Rage 4 and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, Windjammers 2 strikes a near-perfect balance of updating Windjammers enough that it looks modern yet comes across a lot like how I remember the 1994 original in my head. I suppose the characters and effects could use a bit more detail, but this is a great template that I’d love to see applied to much of the early Neo Geo lineup.

It also helps that while Windjammers 2 is a sequel, it doesn’t change too much. The original game was very much a product of its time, cramming fighting game mechanics into a game of competitive Pong, and that concept has earned it a cult following over the years. Windjammers 2 feels like a respectful extension of that concept — it has some new characters and moves, though in some ways, it almost feels more like a remake than a sequel. I suppose you could argue that the expectations for a sequel weren’t quite as high back in the mid-’90s.

This all works in Windjammers 2’s favor, because the result is a game that brings back the feeling of the original game without some of the baggage of the mid-’90s. With any luck, hopefully we’ll see the same treatment given to other classic Neo Geo video games too.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.