Since video games began, the hobby has been an infinitely more desirable proposition when enjoyed with friends. The first video game ever made, Tennis for Two, is multiplayer; it’s played on an oscilloscope and is extremely basic, but it’s intended for two players nonetheless. In the arcade years of the 1970s and 1980s, multiplayer experiences made up a large amount of gaming, with titles like Pong setting the scene ablaze.
In the intervening years between then and now, multiplayer games underwent a rather divisive transition to the online space before couch multiplayer (games played in the same room as your friends) began to make a comeback a few years ago. For our money, there’s no better multiplayer experience than sitting in front of the same screen as your friends, jostling for superiority and taunting them to try and throw them off.
Luckily, it seems that indie developer Colin Lane agrees with us, hence Dunkers 2. Believe it or not, Dunkers 2 is a second version of Dunkers, a multiplayer basketball physics game from a couple of years back that we rather liked. The original Dunkers blended a madcap physics sensibility with a surprisingly robust game of Get On Top-style basketball shenanigans, and the combination proved to be more of a winning one than any of us expected.
The sequel improves and iterates on the formula Dunkers crystallized in a number of ways. If you’ve played the original, a lot of what you see here might seem familiar – not overly so, but certainly enough to jog your memory. If you haven’t, it’s no secret that Dunkers 2 is the definitive version of the game. The sequel near enough obliterates any reason you might have to play the original, unless you’re especially fond of pixel art.
That’s not to say the original Dunkers is bad, because it really, really isn’t. It’s more to say that Dunkers 2 represents the best possible expression of the game’s formula. In essence, Dunkers 2 is a one-on-one fighting game wearing the guise of a basketball game. Two players must battle to dunk the ball in their opponent’s net. There’s no passing, no fouls and no strategy here; instead, Dunkers 2 stays true to its name and only allows players to slam dunk the ball.
To achieve that end, each of Dunkers 2’s adorably disproportionate characters have flailing arms and not much else. These arms are constantly swinging, so it’s up to you as the player to position yourself in such a way that you’ll grab the ball on the downswing. There’s a surprising amount of precision and finesse required in order to predictably do this; Dunkers 2 might look like it’s without reason, but play for a little while and you’ll see the gears turning.
Dunking the ball nets (nets, ha ha) you a point, and depending on which mode you’re playing this could be the difference between victory and defeat. The single-player modes here are sizeable and robust enough; there’s an arcade ladder in which you’ll face off against enemies until you lose (conceding one point here means defeat), a tournament that sees a number of players face off until one emerges victorious, and a quick play function that allows you to simply get into a game of Dunkers 2. None of the modes do much more than offer a series of increasingly difficult ways to experience the game’s core mechanics, but that’s fine – like its predecessor, Dunkers 2 is a riotously good time, and we’re happy just to have an excuse to play it.
That said, you’ll definitely get the most mileage out of the multiplayer mode here. Dunkers 2 is clearly designed to be played with a friend, and this web build is the best place to experience that. Playing with friends on a mobile device could be tricky, but with each player taking control of just two keys on a regular PC keyboard, multiplayer here is easy. Dunkers 2 is designed to be a watercooler game; there are plenty of hilarious moments thrown up organically by the game’s crazy physics engine, and it’s clear that Colin Lane intends you to chat about the situations you’ve seen with your friends, so we’d strongly recommend the multiplayer over the single-player.
In the final analysis, Dunkers 2 is simply a very enjoyable multiplayer “basketball” game. Those of you looking for an immersive sports experience or a deep single-player career mode should look elsewhere – Dunkers 2 isn’t exactly heavy on content, although there is a range of unlockable shirts and balls to aim towards. The game’s strengths are manifold: it’s hilarious fun, its presentation is slick and smooth, and its multiplayer mode is superior to many full-blooded triple-A games currently available on the market. Treat Dunkers 2 as a satisfying, fulfilling snack rather than a main meal and you’ll love it all the more.