Update: It’s missing just one. The SNK Neo Geo Mini presentation on 9 June listed Twinkle Star Sprites as one of its titles. Windjammers is still missing though.
We at Kakuchopurei are stoked for the Neo Geo Mini. SNK is doing good by jumping onto the tiny retro console bandwagon since it had a huge backlog of classics ranging from a ton of fighting games to the 2d run-and-gun and shmup titles. Here’s the list in case your memory needs refreshing.
However, I feel that there are two titles that can round up this whole collection. After all, do we really need a lot of KOF titles on that alleged list?
The first one is Windjammers. What is this strangely-named title? It’s a 2d frisbee-tossing game set in the far future. It’s not just regular frisbee-tossing. It’s EXTREEEMMMEEEE frisbee-tossing. Your objective is to score the most points for yourself; you do this by throwing the frisbee into your opponent’s goal. You can get either 3 or 5 points per goal depending on which side of the goal you shoot at.
Of course, you can catch the frisbee and toss it back to your opponent, or even deflect it and have it hover up in the air while you strike a pose to do a power shot. So this becomes a competitive back-and-forth since you need to time your button presses right when you catch & throw the frisbee back. Or you can delay your throws and purposely chuck the frisbee slowly to see how your opponent reacts.
Anyone who plays fighting games will know that timing and faking out opponents are keys to winning. Windjammers require you to do this to score the highest. You can choose your playstyle with the 6 different characters available, each of them from different countries and with their own power shots.
The Japanese girl Hiromi Mita is super-fast, but her shots have low power. German powerhouse Klaus is slow, but his power shots and super shots are the strongest in the game, so being on-point with your deflects and pose shots is essential if you want to use this guy.
Windjammers is essentially a fighting game in the guise of a frisbee-tossing sport of the future, which I am all for.
Yes, you can play it on PS4 now -the DotEmu port here is lovely and comes with a reworked competitive mode- but it breaks my heart to not see this classic in its original form on the upcoming Mini Neo Geo.
The second one is a game near and dear to my heart. I am talking about Twinkle Star Sprites, perhaps the greatest 2D competitive shmup in the annals of gaming.
How does one play this game? Simple: the screen is split into two. You play the left side, your opponent plays the right side. Both of you shoot enemies down and make them explode in a chain. When you chain up to more than 3 explosions or more, you summon fireballs and special bullets/projectiles onto your opponent’s screen. Your objective is to overwhelm your opponent’s screen with so much stuff, that he/she will have to take a hit. Whoever reaches zero life first loses the match. Easy stuff, right?
You have to take into account that your opponent may be selective in what to throw onto your screen, as well as the types of special bullets he/she will chuck at you. Some characters can throw special bullets from behind, while others chuck them at you in a strange movement pattern. Dealing with one is bad enough, but try dodging 3 or 4 of them simultaneously, with the aforementioned fireballs in the mix.
You can also summon bosses onto your opponent’s screen if you have a super-high chain from the explosions (usually from a counterattack). And then there’s fever mode, where the fireball/counter-fireball numbers double and come frequently.
Just like most shmups, you have smart bombs that clear the entire screen and give you temporary invincibility, but at the cost of a delayed smartbomb launch. All of these elements above make for a chaotic experience, but you can manage it if you can dodge well and if you can launch your own salvo or chain explosions.
Two-player mode, ladies and gents, is where the real fun of TSS is. There is nothing satisfying than sending a shitton of exploding rabbits and a giant rabbit boss onto your opponent’s screen while he/she is scurrying and dodging like nobody’s business.
There’s also a cutesy story about a sorceress named Ran who has to find the Twinkle Star to grant her power, but she gets waylaid by girls on dragons, girls riding pigs, girls riding a magical colour pencil, a pervert cat sage who rides on a cat mecha, and even her brainwashed fairy mom who summons food as special bullets. It’s dumb and is an obvious Sailormoon parody, but it’s harmless fun nonetheless.
In short, the frenetic competitive element and different playstyles of TSS is what makes this shmup stand out among the rest. The batshit magical girl fantasy land setting helps brighten things up too.
Not to brag, but I am perhaps one of the best Malaysian/Singaporean TSS players of all time. I’m so good, in fact, that I gave Bruce “Gamerbee” Hsiang, a Street Fighter IV player in Taiwan who also plays TSS hardcore, a hard time.
I might be a little rusty now due to work, but I am open to a TSS challenge anytime, anywhere. I shouldn’t be too sore about TSS’ exclusion from the Mini Neo Geo since there’s a PC version of the game out now. But goddamn it if this game can help spice up the Mini Neo Geo collection by a tad, along with Windjammers.
Two underrated classics that made their mark on the Neo Geo board, unfortunately have been left out of the alleged Mini Neo Geo games list. For shame, SNK.