The year was 1986 and the arcade industry was in a big slump, the golden age had been over for a few years, and the brief revival of the late 80s had not yet begun. Williams decided to do a sequel to their classic Joust title, and came up with Joust 2: Survival Of The Fittest.
This was a complete update to the original with new enemies and a variety of different levels, but it had one little flaw, it just simply was not as fun as the original. It was a great game on its own, but not when compared to Joust. They only ended up making about 1000 of these, and most of them saw little action on the arcade floor. The players seemed to prefer the original Joust (which most arcades still had back then). Most of these machines ended up being pulled from the arcades after only a few months, and have survived to the present day in excellent conditions. (It seems they were pulled for lack of profits, but most of them were not converted, because by 1986 most operators had a whole warehouse full of games to convert, and would usually select an older title rather than a new one that they could possibly sell off to someone else).
I guess I should stop now, and give a quick overview of what the Joust games are all about, just in case you haven't played any of them before. You pilot a knight who rides on top of a large bird. The object is to smash into your opponents to destroy them, but you have to be at a higher elevation when you hit them, otherwise they destroy you instead. The controls consist of a simple 2-Way joystick and a "Flap" button.
You won't have many problems with this title, assuming of course that you are already familar with the original Joust. The biggest difference is the addition of a new button, the "transform" button. Pressing that button turns you into a Pegasus, which is heavier, and much harder to control, but is good for falling fast onto enemies below you (if you ask me, it was just a gimmick, it adds almost nothing to the game, it would have been better perhaps if player one was the bird, and player two was the Pegasus or something like that).
There are many other changes (besides the gimmicky "transform' button). The biggest of which is the fact that the game uses a vertical monitor, while the original used a horizontal monitor. This means that you will do a lot more up and down flying, and not nearly as much side to side flying, which changes the feel of the game considerably. Each level also has a single "Golden Egg" which produces a random bonus if you are able to capture it.
Instead of a single screen with platforms in fixed places, Joust 2 has thirty five different levels, all of them highly detailed, but most of them have large central structures that even further inhibit side to side flight. Some of the levels (like the statue levels) can be interacted with to produce varying in-game effect (bash all the buttons,and the level will end, ecetera).
The original Joust only had four types of enemies (three riders of different colors, and the pterodactyl). This one has tons of them. But they all work pretty much the same way, bash them and they will go down. Just be wary of unmounted riders on the ground, they hold their lances straight up, and must be hit sideways to kill them.
This game uses a redesign of the "Williams Classic" platform (which is described in detail in the Robotron 2084 node). It is not compatible with the older titles, but they could possibly run on this platform with a little bit of tweaking. The game is contained on set of two PCB boards, and a third board does audio duties.
This title was released in an upright dedicated cabinet that was very similar in design to the original Joust cabinet (you would have to set them side by side to be able to spot the differences). It is decorated with stencil style painted sideart of a knight riding on a large bird (this was one of the last games to have stenciled sideart, stickers and other painting methods had been the norm for several years).
The rest of the cabinet artwork is all based on the original Joust artwork, but has much more detail. The biggest difference between this cabinet, and an original Joust cabinet is that this game uses a vertical monitor, rather than a horizontal one.
The design and programming team on this title included John Newcomer, Joe Hellesen, Kristina Donofrio, and Warren Davis. While the cabinet was designed by Tim Elliot.
This game uses the same motherboard as Inferno, and the two titles can be converted to each other by swapping ROMs, a few RAM chips, and moving a few jumpers. Mystic Marathon and Turkey Shoot also use similar hardware, but it is not 100 percent compatible.
The official world record for this game (as of this writing), is 458,950 scored by Mark Longridge, at a FunSpot arcade in New Hampshire. The same player also holds the unofficial record of 488,500, which he acheived using the MAME emulator.
Where to play
Unlike its predecessor, Joust 2 was not widely ported to every other system on the market. You are going to have to settle for emulation (via MAME), if you are unable to find an actual machine.
Joust 2 is an excellent game to add to your arcade game collection. It is quite fun, and is often sold for cheaper than the far more common "Joust". You will probably have to look around quite a bit before you will actually find a machine though.