Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest, Arcade

Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest is the sequel to the arcade classic, Joust, and was developed and manufactured by Williams Electronics in 1986. John Newcomer was again the lead designer of the game.

Joust 2 features a number of new additions and game mechanics, but is essentially the same kind of gameplay as the original Joust. The aim being: to fly a winged buzzard (by constantly pressing the ‘flap’ button to flap its wings) and to knock enemies off their mounts by being higher than them when you collide. When you defeat a mounted enemy it will drop an egg that you can then collect. If you don’t collect an egg within a certain amount of time it will hatch into a Lancer, which is a single soldier with a lance that will skewer you if you try to attack it from the front (so bumping one from behind is the only way to beat it).

Joust 2 features a transformation ability where you can change into a Pegasus horse, which has better offensive capabilities but is not so good at flying, so is better used when on the ground. Another new feature is that when eggs fall into lava pits they will hatch into Shadow Lords, which are larger, more aggressive enemy mounts. These can be beaten just like regular enemy mounts, though, but you do have to be more careful when dealing with them. Occasionally a golden egg will drop and if you collect this a button will rise up from a platform for a limited time. If you manage to press it (by running over it), it will award you with a bonus.

There are other new enemies, like Crystal Bats, and even boss battles (usually requiring you to hit switches on them to hurt them). Two players can also play cooperatively to clear waves together.

Joust 2 features a variety of different platform levels, plus survival stages where the game throws everything it can at you until you manage to clear a level, and the action throughout is frenetic and seemingly on a knife edge. You can choose to start the game from one of six different skill levels which at least gives you the chance to see some of the later levels without having to reach them from the beginning of the game, although of course surviving them is extremely challenging.

This sequel uses a vertical screen display, unlike the original Joust which used a horizontal display, and is an interesting progression of the ideas seen in the first game. Joust 2 is a tough game to master, but is well made and fun to play – especially two-player – and will appeal to those who like a challenge, and are persistent enough to unlock its secrets.

More: Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest on Wikipedia

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