The very first thing I posted on this blog was an Arcade Mania article for the original Joust. It’s been over three years since then, so it’s about time I covered the sequel!
Released in 1986, Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest is pretty much everything you would expect in a sequel. It has the same basic gameplay as in the original, but with many new twists added. Instead of having only one stage, Joust 2 has several that change between waves. There are new enemy types, including a boss fight with a giant “black knight.” Bonuses can be acquired by landing on buttons that appear on the ground. You also have the ability to transform your ostrich into a Pegasus at any time with the touch of a button, although it makes your character much heavier and more difficult to handle.
Of course, the graphics and sound have been upgraded, as well. While the graphics are still fairly simple, the stage layouts are much more varied. Some of the artwork was inspired by artist M.C. Escher, who was known for creating illusory images. This leads to gimmicks like enemy ostriches spawning out of the shadows of the mountains in the background. There are also some voice samples in the game that add a nice touch.
Unlike the original game, Joust 2 make use of a vertically-oriented monitor. Personally, I don’t care much for this, as it makes the play field seem very claustrophobic. Combined with the much more complex level design, it makes Joust 2 a far more difficult game than its predecessor.
Still, it has a certain charm to it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t anywhere near as successful as the original, and so it’s an extremely rare arcade game. I’ve certainly never come across it in the wild, and in fact, I’m not sure I ever even knew it existed until it was included on the original Midway Arcade Treasures compilation for the GameCube, PS2 and original Xbox. The only other times it has been re-released were on Midway Arcade Origins for the PS3 and Xbox 360 and Arcade’s Greatest Hits: The Midway Collection 2 for the PS1.
It’s an interesting curiosity, at the least, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the original.