Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest

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Joust 2

Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest
Arcade
Developed by Williams Electronics
Released in 1986

Joust was undeniably an arcade hit and its crazy theme certainly made it one of the more memorable arcade games out there. The sight of medieval knights mounted on ostriches clashing on top of platforms perilously dangling over lava proved very amusing to gamers, yet that lightning was not meant to struck twice. Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest hit arcades amidst the growing popularity of home consoles and didn’t succeed at drawing people back to the arcade.

Horses? How normal…

The core of the game remains unchanged: you play as a knight that has to defeat waves of enemies mounted on buzzards by charging at them on top of your flying ostrich. When touching an enemy the game decides the victor based on elevation. If you were flying higher than the enemy upon making contact, then victory is yours and the foe turns into an egg. You then collect or catch the egg, otherwise it will hatch into a new foe over time.

Joust 2 pegasus.jpg

To fly, you repeatedly tap the button to flap the ostrich’s wings, but new is a second button with which you transform the ostrich into a horse. The horse is better on the ground at the cost of being terrible at flying, a problem since most enemies are airborne and I rarely found a use for the horse outside of levels that specifically demand you to use it.

The levels are less polished than they were in the original due to them featuring more gimmicks. Levels are lot more cluttered and busy, with a lot of new elements that are poorly introduced. I think there might be environmental hazards, but I am honestly not sure because there is so much happening on any given screen that deaths come frequently and unexpectedly. Half the time I seriously don’t know what did me in or I lose track of my own character entirely.

Joust 2 bot.png

Enemies too are much more prone to getting completely stuck on the awkward terrain and many of their patterns are designed to absolutely slurp your lives away. Many of them are just too fast or erratic, with the bats in particular making for an obnoxious new addition to the cast of foes. I also felt the controls were less responsive, which in a game all about its bizarre moveset makes for a problem. It’s not unplayable, but I often found myself having to hammer the button to flap much more than ideal.

It’s still a fun game to play, but it sacrificed function in favor of variety and is worse than its predecessor for it.

Gameplay score: 3.5/10

4 years mean a lot in arcades

Eager to show off how much graphical capabilities have changed, this sequel bring a lot more flair to the table in terms of presentation. Yes, the levels are busier than I would have liked, but the structures and characters that populate it look great. There is a lot more detail all-around, though I am not much of a fan of the new character designs for the player knight.

Presentation score: 8.5/10

Always bring a squire

If the game isn’t busy enough for your liking, then it possible to spend the extra credits on bringing a friend rather than prolonging your own life. Also new is a built-in level select where you can pick on what wave to start. This allows people to resume where they last left off with fresh credits in hand or skip levels that give you trouble.

Extras score: 6/10

Verdict

Joust 2 is an alright arcade game. It certainly looks nice and being able to skip levels or resume your previous session is neat, but gameplay-wise it doesn’t live up to the original. If you have mastered the original Joust and want new challenges then it may be worth a peek, otherwise stick to the original.

60/100

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