With Sengoku 2, SNK resurrects quality Beat them Up on the Neo Geo system, and gives us the opportunity to compare it to its best rival back in 1993, I mean Capcom's Cadillacs & Dinosaurs. The latter runs 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. We can mention that their performance levels are almost similar, quality of the productions being further determined by the quality of programming. 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 his previous games. And it suits the game perfectly, as C&D is based on an existing Comic. At SNK's, japanese feudal age is honored. Japanese culture worshipers will get pretty satisfied, 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. Realism and phantasmagoria intersect perfectly, the backgrounds are particularly beautiful. Intermediate screens adorning the game are great and plunge you deeper into the atmosphere. In C & D, we discover 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. But ultimately, Sengoku 2 takes advantage in this chapter, with its deeper, fantastic backgrounds.
SENGOKU 2.................................... 93%
CADILLACS & DINOSAURS ......... 90%
Capcom's game animation is smooth, fast, fully decomposed. The editor shows how he masters this feature in this kind of game. Sprites of the protagonists move beautifully, while the enemies seem to be less smart and less decomposed, but still doing very good. By cons, backgrounds are not showing much life nor much differencial scrollings. SNK doesn't match his rival here: Sengoku 2 warriors are stiffer and slower. More dynamism would have been appreciated, even if the game still makes par. The animation is slightly less broken down than in C & D. However, there is no reason to complain unduly about it, the animation is not a problem, our heroes moves well and there are no slowdowns. The backgrounds are animated, even with some zooms effects and deformations. Horseriding phases enjoy a perfectly smooth and fast scrolling , as well as the Cadillac stages in C&D. In both games, the stages are quite lively, with rats, crows, dinosaurs passing by... The fact remains that the work provided here by Capcom is a step up. In addition, the game suffers no slowdown, even in phases where one drives the Cadillac, and very rarely when playing three simultaneously.
SENGOKU 2.................................... 81%
CADILLACS & DINOSAURS ......... 92%
In this chapter, Sengoku 2 takes a large revenge over its rival. Themes are incredible, beautifully orchestrated and catchy, greatly 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 to the game to perfection, so that I can't imagine what we could ask more here. Cadillacs & Dinosaurs has more banal melodies, yet dynamic but empty of personality like those of SNK. The vocals are far fewer, and CPS age begins to be felt: the sound quality, although good, can't compete with the Neo Geo.
SENGOKU 2................................... 94%
CADILLACS & DINOSAURS ........ 85%
Beat Them Up, almost by definition, is not a genre with an exceptional life span. It's a bit like asking a Ferrari to cover a thousand miles on a single tank! No, it's just about you with wide open eyes and ears for half an hour, heart at 150bpm, and then it's over. Speaking of life, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs takes a serious advantage over Sengoku 2 here: 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 pretty hard and it won't get cleared the first time you'll play it... but it's still insufficient 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 willingly to Sengoku 2.
SENGOKU 2.................................... 70%
CADILLACS & DINOSAURS ......... 84%
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. However, the game is fun, and its fluidity provides gameplay great sensations. 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 as fast as possible. Guard doesn't only block the enemy slashes, but also returns bullets and magic attacks. Transformations, used properly, allow you to have a perfectly adapted fighter depending on the stage you are. You'll also find power up, valid for each type of warrior. Some will equip magical attacks, others will temporarily make your weapon more powerful. As for the Cadillac phases in Capcom's game, in certain stages you will fight running on horseback: these are great parts of the action, boosting the pace a nice way. All in all, we have a very interesting, original and deep gameplay for the SNK title, which gives the game a depth that don't have C&D, which keeps for it the advantage of smoothness and better controls, while more simplistic.
SENGOKU 2.................................... 92%
CADILLACS & DINOSAURS ......... 89%
If it appears that at first glance, casual player would instinctively prefer Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, it might not be the same for a seasoned Beat 'em Up player. While we all like punching on anything that moves without thinking too much, 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 & DINOSAURS