Windjammers was made in 1994 by the now defunct Data East Corp., and published by SNK. It is not a fighting game.
If you’re unfamiliar with Windjammers, you’re probably wondering why the hell this game is in the lineup for Evolution 2017’s coveted 9th game slot.
In that case, let me try introducing it to you again. Windjammers is fast-paced Pong with six selectable characters, twitch reactions, mixups, special moves, parries, over the top personality and instantly charming sprite work. This ’90s neon-colored gem is easy to play, easy to watch, difficult to master, and wildly addictive.
If you research this game’s history, you will find a point in time game where magazines called this game “average.” This doesn’t seem to gel with reality though: look at our own mystery game tournaments, on many gaming YouTube channels, and on the pages of Giant Bomb. Windjammers may not have been a wild hit on release, but we (the FGC, Gamers, the Whole of Humanity) have never stopped playing it. Call it a poverty game. Call it a classic. Play it on the main stage at Evolution. Or don’t. It doesn’t really matter: people are still going to play Windjammers and have a blast doing it. Windjammers’s ridiculous influence continues to be felt on the games being made today (Disc Jam! Lethal League! Rocket League!) for no greater reason than its simple and entertaining skewering of sports.
PR Balrog vs. Justin Wong in Windjammers at Power Up 2011
Windjammers has sat patiently in the shadows for years, in the corners of our arcades and major tournaments. The FGC plays it. Smash plays it. Austin Creed plays it. You probably play it. I play it! And if you run into someone that hasn’t played it, the straightforward approach usually convinces them to try. I’m fairly certain that’s crossover appeal! Think of all these people from all these different fighting game communities signing up to play Windjammers. It can easily become one of the most massive tournaments in Evolution history, based on that alone.
I have to think part of the charm of Windjammers comes from its presentation. Arcade games had to stand out quickly in that loud environment, where many of the franchises we play originated. So, no, while it isn’t a fighting game, it is a tie to our collective arcade roots, all the same.
It has a great 1v1 competitive aspect. It attracts viewers, which we obviously want. It should cross over well to the ESPN audience. It has a “retro” cool that makes it a lot easier for people to appreciate. And you know what? It’d look great for us if we did this. Imagine: “There was this one time a crazy mid-’90s frisbee game made it into Evo, had tons of entrants, and everyone had a great time playing.” Windjammers has always just been about blood-pumping fun, and the publicity would be really big if Windjammers actually makes it in.
So, that’s the dream. Will it happen? Well, that’s on you. But, if it doesn’t, Windjammers will be just fine. It always has been. It always will be.
Vote for Windjammers on generosity.com here. Voting closes at 12:00 PM PST on February 8, 2017.