Reviewed in 2012 by Tibe

A GAME THAT HAS THE EDGE

by Tibe

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We thought the world was safe with the death of the infamous Amakusa... Neine! Another devil has resurrected, don't worry. Good thing, 'cause we loved Samurai Shodown and we thought a sequel would be welcome ... SS2 includes eleven of the twelve warriors that were in the first episode, and adds four newcomers and two 'bosses': The ruthless referee Kuroko (which you can fight in case of good performances) and the vile Mizuki, accompanied with her devilish pet. Note that these two are playable thanks to the universe bios, what provides us a total of seventeen selectable characters! Not bad... Graphically speaking, it's really great. The style is unchanged, and now there are seventeen backgrounds, one for each character. Zooms still perfectly fits the action, they're even a little deeper than those of SS1. The animation has been improved overall, steps have been added for the characters, and the new ones are pretty good! Tam-Tam disappeared and is replaced by Cham-Cham: a mini-Tarzan with claws (it can not be invented) who fights with his little monkey and his boomerang.

Between Haohmaru and Genjuro, it's a la vida, a la muerte.
Between Haohmaru and Genjuro, it's a la vida, a la muerte.

The other three new are not bad either, judge yourself: Genjuro, a samurai who fights bare-chested, with his stylish at possible Kiseru and his bowl of sake at the end of combats ... Sieger, a huge german warrior who fights with one giant metal arm (makes me think about Cobra)! We end with Nicotine, the usual grandpa warrior, four feet high (arms raised), expert in psychic powers. Another change, Wan-Fu who was previously fighting with a huge sword, now uses a stone block. Questionable choices, but hey, that's how! A pretty varied roster here, no character is like another... Every one have his own style, with some who use animals (eagle, dog, monkey ...), some who are ninjas, samuraïs, swordsmen... Other detail, besides the animation that has quite improved, the extended number of different attacks: each warrior now have a special technique triggerable when the "Rage Gauge" is full. It's called the "Weapon Smash Waza ". This "fury", not only removes much of opponent's life, but also destroys his weapon. He must then deal with his bare hands for a good fifteen seconds time, before he's send a new weapon. 

Wan Fu swapped his sword against an equally delicate weapon!
Wan Fu swapped his sword against an equally delicate weapon!

Moreover, the blade to blade duels where opponents can be disarmed are still included, causing the bare hands fighting always so funny! "Gifts deliverers " are also still there, sending bombs, chickens and other subtleties. Like before, some parts of the stages can be destroyed (statues, stelae, bamboos,etc...) and of course it's still possible to cut violently the opponent in half at the end of a combat. The spurts of blood are the most beautiful effect, pretty impressive. What is sure is that will delight fans of gore! Let's talk a little about soundtrack: musics are varied and well composed. Ballads, rock'n'roll, zen themes, each one fits perfectly the character intended. Nakoruru and her air of rustic flute, electric guitars for the big Earthquake, Jubei fighting in his garden with its quiet atmosphere (absolutely epic), or Sieger warrior dramatic theme... We can travel just by closing our eyes. Sound effects, they are partly taken from the first episode, and SNK has added a few beautiful ones, as well as new vocals. 202 megs, just that... When it was released, SSII was literally the "bigger" Neo Geo game ever. 

Charlotte and Nakoruru are the strong women of the game.
Charlotte and Nakoruru are the strong women of the game.

Samurai Shodown II is even more difficult than its predecessor. The single play against the CPU can quickly turn into humiliation, especially during the first games you"ll have... Fortunately, the difficulty is adjustable, which should help somewhat. Finishing the game is not impossible but requires a lot of training and a to master tempo, dodges, feints and throws. Each character requires learning and plays in a different way. For example, Ukyo is perfect for counter style playing... but can also take the opponent by surprise with quick attacks. Haohmaru is a character for aggressive players... And Hanzo is a ninja that requires much training to be mastered! Important range of moves, counters, teleportation, special throws... SSII is really exciting! Fifteen characters (seventeen with the chip), a difficult game, superaddictive two-players clashes , beautiful surroundings... Zooms, musics, sound effects, atmosphere are unique. SNK really hit hard with this game, which is a serious alternative to 'traditional' versus fighting games. The Samurai Shodown saga releases in 1994 one of its very best episodes, with this fantastic number two.


GRAPHICS

97%

With new top-quality stages, the graphics are about the same level as the first episode, with even more variety and details.
ANIMATION 95%
Improved zooms and smoothness in characters moves, plus a bit more speedy action.
SOUND 96%
New gorgeous vocals and sounds, themes as good as always...
REPLAY VALUE 95%
SSII packs fifteen characters (+two hidden ones), an important amount of moves and special moves, and an unique atmosphere...
GAMEPLAY 96%
Refined since the first, the gameplay have more precision. Controls respond perfectly and action became even more technical than in SSI.

NEOGEOKULT

RATE

96%
Taking back excellent basics from the first episode, SSII rises the quality level with a superb realization, an improvedgameplay and more characters, surrounded by an epic atmosphere.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Even more interesting than the first one, Samurai II can be found anywhere for about 20 euros.  Don't miss it!

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