With Sengoku 2, SNK resurrects quality Beat them Up on the Neo Geo and gives us the opportunity to compare its best rival back in 1993, I mean Capcom's Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, running on CPS-II. This system and the Neo Geo are the two major hardwares in the arcades during the early nineties, often competing in theaters. Their performance levels are almost similar, with a little advantage to the CPS-II, more recent. First remark, Cadillacs can play three simultaneously. We've seen this before from the editor, with The King of Dragons, for example. Sengoku 2, more traditionnal, can be played two simultaneously. While Capcom's game offers a choice of four protagonists, its opponent proposes, by invoking spirits, to transform your hero into three different forms of warriors. This implies a good variety of gameplay on both sides, as we shall see in another chapter.
True to his style, Capcom's visuals were born in comics, as the editor has accustomed players in previous games. And it suits the game perfectly, as C&D is based on an existing comic. Japanese culture worshipers will love Sengoku 2, as the title is a true hymn to the country of the rising sun. The stages are divided between our world and a twilight zone in feudal Japan. Realism and phantasmagoria intersect perfectly, the backgrounds being particularly gorgeous. Intermediate screens adorning the game plunge you even deeper into the atmosphere. In C & D, we nice graphics in the Final Fight's style, finer and more colored. The post apocalyptic scenes in civilization are great, and stages in the wild are very successful. As for the sprites, size and quality can be compared but it's more varied in Cadillacs & Dinosaurs. Sengoku 2 takes advantage in this chapter, with its deeper, fantastic backgrounds and characters.
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Capcom's characters have smooth and nicely decomposed moves. By cons, backgrounds are not showing much life nor differencial scrollings. SNK doesn't equal his rival here: Sengoku warriors are stiffer and slower. More dynamism would have been good, even if the game still looks decent. The backgrounds are lively, even with some zooms effects and deformations. Horseriding phases feature a perfectly smooth and fast scrolling , as well as the Cadillac stages in C&D. The fact remains that the work provided by Capcom is way better here. In addition, the game suffers no slowdown, even in phases where one drives the Cadillac, and very rarely when playing three simultaneously.
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Cadillacs & Dinos
In this chapter, Sengoku 2 takes revenge on its rival. Themes are beautifully orchestrated and catchy, contributing to the game's epic atmosphere with war drums and epic melodies. The voices are great quality, the sounds of clashing swords, the agony cries of enemies, and the Boss interventions are simply dramatic. It's a no-fault at this level, the sountrack sticks the game to perfection, so that I can't imagine what we could ask more here. Cadillacs & Dinosaurs is made of more commonplace melodies, yet dynamic but empty of personality. The vocals are far fewer, and the sound quality, although good, can't match with the Neo Geo.
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Cadillacs & Dinosaurs takes advantage over Sengoku 2: it takes a little more than one hour to clear the game, which is relatively long. That said, Capcom already spoiled with Final Fight, which lasted nearly one hour too! SNK's game on its side is cleared within forty minutes. It 's about the average value for a BTU. Meanwhile, Sengoku 2 is hard and it won't get cleared the first time you'll play it. But it's still not enough to compete with its rival. This is especially surprising, because finishing the first Sengoku took an hour and more... why did they make this sequel shorter? Besides that, as we shall see later, the gameplay might take players back more to Sengoku 2.
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Cadillacs & Dinosaurs features a simple and already classic Beat them Up gameplay. First button hits, second one jumps. Pressing both at the same time triggers special attacks, which costs some energy but cleans the place. The protagonists are fighting with their bare hands, and can pick up knives, guns, pistols, rocket launchers... and various elements of the stages like drums, or barrels. Our heroes can also run and perform running attacks and some throws. Thoughtful, you will sometimes drive a Cadillac through stages - in the way of a bonus stage - and this just breaks nicely the monotony. In Sengoku 2, our heroes are equiped with swords, and four buttons are used: A= vertical slash, B= horizontal slash, C= jump, D = form change. A+B performs block, A+B+C depressed a special attack (fireball). D button can invoke three different spirits: a ninja dog , a female ninja, and a tengu armed with a scythe. The simple fact of being able to block gives a great dimension to gameplay: fighting asks more than just punching buttons. Guard doesn't only block the enemy slashes, but also returns bullets and magic attacks. Transformations, used properly, allow you to do better depending on the stage you are. You'll also find power spheres, that for some will equip magical attacks and others temporarily make your weapon more powerful. In certain stages you will fight running on horseback: these are boosting the pace a nice way. All in all, we have a very interesting, original and deep gameplay for the SNK title, while C&D keeps for it the advantage of smoothness and better controls.
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While we all like punching on anything that moves without thinking too much thinking, it's still nice to have access to a great variety of possibilities. This is the highlight of Sengoku 2: the depth of gameplay, not to forget the perfectly transcribed japanese feudal mood. On the other hand, animation could have been slightly better and characters moving more fast, but above all, two more stages would have not hurt. Even if you come back with pleasure, forty minutes is much shorter than Cadillacs & Dinosaurs that takes more than an hour to clear. Not to mention the better animation, and the three-players simultaneous game... Sengoku 2 loses this duel in front of a game certainly far less epic, but more homogenous and perfectly polished.
Cadillacs & Dinos