Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest is an arcade game developed by Williams Electronics and released in 1986. It is a sequel to Williams’ 1982 game Joust. Like its predecessor, Joust 2 is a platform game that features two-dimensional (2D) graphics. The player uses a button and joystick to control a knight riding a flying ostrich. The object is to progress through levels by defeating groups of enemy knights riding buzzards. Joust 2 features improved audio-visuals and gameplay elements absent from the original.
The game uses more advanced hardware than the original Joust, allowing for the new elements. John Newcomer led development again, which began to create a conversion kit that allowed arcade owners to convert the cabinet into another game. Williams chose a vertically oriented screen for the kit as a result of the design’s popularity at the time. Released during the waning days of the golden age of arcade games, Joust 2 did not achieve the success that Joust reached.
Williams’ video game department had shrunk following a decline in the video game industry. The company wanted to sell an arcade conversion kit for games that use a vertically oriented monitor, which had become popular at the time. Management felt that a sequel would improve the kit’s saleability. The company decided to release a sequel to either Robotron: 2084 or Joust, ultimately choosing the latter. Technology had progressed since the original’s release, providing more flexibility than before. As a result, Newcomer conceived new elements: additional characters, improved audio-visuals, and new mechanics. To portray a progression of villains, the staff added a new enemy, the Lord Knight. The developers added backgrounds to the levels, inspired by artwork by M. C. Escher, Newcomer’s favorite artist. Staff added a transform button to provide players with more variety and balance the gameplay.
Williams shipped around 1,000 units of Joust 2, significantly fewer than its predecessor. Brett Alan Weiss of Allgame and Mike Bevan of Retro Gamer attributed the poor numbers to an industry slump in the mid-1980s.