In 1994, SNK and Capcom are more than ever the great rivals everyone have heard about. That year, one releases Samurai Spirits II, very awaited after the legendary first game, and the other one the final version of the SFII saga, Super Street Fighter 2 X (Turbo for Europe). CPS-II is the new main hardware on which Capcom develops its arcade games since 1993. This standard uses a high resolution of 384x224 pixels, can display 4,096 colors and 900 sprites simultaneously, have sixteen audio channels, while SSFIIx weighs no less than 195 Mb. The Neo Geo is a little below these technical features: resolution of 320x224, 4096 displayable colors also but "only" 380 sprites simultaneously. Fifteen audio channels is one less than its rival, but the machine features a fabulous sound chip which is at least making even with Capcom. A little more rom is used, with 202 Mb for Samurai II.
As seen with Super Street Fighter II, the twelve original characters backgrounds were kept, but reworked with new colors and details, and completely redesigned for a few ones. The newcomers' stages are looking good, with a special mention for Cammy and T-Hawk. No changes in the Turbo version, with some presentation details such as character portraits under the life bar, and the screens with portraits before the fights. It's not bad, but SNK on its side provided a huge work: Seventeen brand new backgrounds, absolutely gorgeous. These are large and can be seen almost entirely or in great details, using powerful zooms during the action. Character design is once again very personal, with characters' sprites that were slightly refined since the first episode, and five new fighters emerging. At every level, the japanese medieval atmosphere is palpable. More colorful, detailed at will, Samurai Spirits II wins this round.
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Samurai Spirits II features powerful zooms, very large characters, a fast and decomposed animation, destructible stage elements and well animated, spectacular sheaves of blood... a treat for the eyes. Progress since the first episode are few, but we can note the zoom is slightly more powerful and performing a bit faster. Super Street Fighter II X benefits the experience gained after no less than four games successfully marketed: the characters' animation is more fluid and faster than ever, decomposed at will, while the backgrounds are still quite alive and ground animated line by line providing a nice 3d effect. A little more punchy and decomposed than its rival, SSF2X slightly dominates SNK's soft on this section.
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Super Street 2X
Quality has increased since the Street Fighter series came on CPS-II, and the tunes that made the success of the previous games are retained with some improvements. The musics are very inspired and particularly catchy, although they haven't changed since the previous episode. Samurai Spirits II offers themes for the most very tribal, sometimes zen, but also with medieval-japanese war drums. Some songs are more discrete, presumably to make room for the intensity of the confrontation and the sound effects taking it all. SSFIIX has the same sound effects than its predecessor. Samurai Spirits II has much to do here, because it must give life to the sharp blades cutting flesh, rattling, falls ... and cries of pain. And let's not take the suspense any longer, the 202 megs of the game must be occupied largely by this fabulous soundtrack. The noises of metal, beatings and slicings are perfect and you can feel every blow. The voices are many and make the game extremely alive, as the characters have great presence.
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In their raw states, we have sixteen selectable characters for Capcom's game, against fifteen for the SNK's game. Both have one Boss: Akuma for Street and Mizuki for Samurai. Using Universe Bios or a code, you can play Mizuki, and Kuroko, the referee. In Super Street Fighter II X, you can play Akuma via a code too. Then we come to a total of seventeen characters for each rival, that all are selectable: that's good! Our two opponents are difficult to clear, and given the number of characters on each side, their respective replay values are huge. The 2-p versus stands of course as the main attraction in both.
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Super Moves and Overhead attacks are featured for the first time in a SF2 game. A gauge fills up when you give blows, and once full, warriors can perform a super special move. Reversal attacks, aerial shots, counters, linkables Supers... Gameplay increases in technicity and timing, with high speed animation: Super Street Fighter II Turbo is simply the culmination of the saga. Like Street, Samurai Spirits II has three power levels for the weapon attacks, and three for kicks. Making a powerful blow requires more precision than the touch of a button: it avoids that anyone can put on with impunity! Here you can dash forward and backward, and combine attacks with running, dodging, rolling ground, grovel; At a sword against sword fight, it is possible to disarm the opponent. The zoom allows to move away considerably from each other for long-range attacks. Haomaru has a score of twenty basic attacks and two throws, it is equivalent to the range of Ryu's in SSFIIX. Concerning special moves, it's also approximately equal. Supers are more varied in SNK's game: our samurais packs between one and three. On combos, there's a good quantity available in SSII but it's a less rich than SSFIIX. The observation and timing are essential in SNK's game, but make no mistake: it is technical, and requires a reinforced learning. Samurai is much more bloody than its rival: the ultimate attack led to the adversary, if it's ideally worn, can cut him in half or having him bleeding to death. One game is super fast and full of combos, the other more technical and exotic.
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1994 marks another milestone in the world of VS fighting. Great series will experiment radical changes, but it's also the era of near-perfect games, like the two productions of this versus. Very clever who can decide objectively which one from Samurai Spirits II or Super Street Fighter II Turbo is the greatest, as these games stand as the two best fighting games of the year. Featuring both fantastic realizations, equal rosters and smooth gameplay mechanics, SNK and Capcom are again playing even at the top of the arcades.
Samurai Spirits 2
Super Street 2 X