By Tibe

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The young IGS company develops games on its own hardware, the Polygame Master: it packs an architecture very similar to the Neo Geo, but more recent (1996). The editor already made some remarkable softs on this support, such as Oriental Legends, the beautiful Martial Masters (VS fighting) or Knights of Valour, the emblematic Beat them Up of the firm. The second part of this saga, Knights of Valour 2, will be here opposed to the lattest of its kind released on the Neo Geo: Sengoku 3! SNK rises from the grave in 2001 under the aegis of Playmore: one of the first games to appear under this banner is this one, also called Sengoku 2001. The soft is developed by Noise Factory and follows the sublime Sengoku 2, released by SNK studios in 1993. On paper, the PGM outperforms the Neo Geo: it uses a similar 68,000 + Z80 architecture, but its processors run a much faster cadency, and benefit the assistance of powerful co-processors. To drive the point home, the PGM uses a resolution of 448x224 against 320x224 for the Neo Geo. In addition, IGS is not kidding for KOV2 with a cartridge of 440 megs, against 'only' 364 for Sengoku 3.

GRAPHICS

Knights of Valour 2 declines Beat them Up in a style that is not without reminding Capcom in its heyday: hard not to think of Knights of the Round... The action takes place during medieval times in Asia, and it runs through forests, villages, fields, ports, mountains ... The backgrounds are varied and feature some beautiful reliefs, in addition to a colorful style and a particularly fine draw. Sengoku 3 on its side, takes place during modern era, but in different countries: China, Japan, Brazil, Italy... here are some exotic destinations that promise a great show! Well you can seat back, it's really nothing special. The cameraman chose to aim the lens on the sidewalks, so much that most of the landscapes can't be seen, and eighty percent of the screen is usually occupied by the ground. Moreover, the stages are not very wide and the level of detail is not exceptional. However, sprites are beautiful, large, colorful, detailed, raising the graphic level, despite a lack of diversity in the enemy bestiary. IGS' production certainly offers smaller characters, but a wide bestiary and mainly, landscapes with great relief!

SENGOKU 3.................................... 72%

 KNIGHTS OF VALOUR 2 ............... 87% 

ANIMATION

SNK game takes a sharp revenge on its rival on animation. Featuring much larger sprites, it pays the luxury of having them much better animated than its KOV2 counterparts: fluidity, decomposition, speed, aesthetics... everything is better! The detail level is higher and the game is clearer than his rival, even when the action is loaded. Knights of Valour 2 is sometimes clutter, especially when playing three or four! Impacts are also not as precise as in its opponent, but still stands as pretty decent for the IGS. The whole remains relatively good and slowdowns are rare, even when playing four. A great performance that is not enough to compete with Sengoku 3, which not only never slows down, but also offers a top-notch animation.

SENGOKU 3.................................... 90%

 KNIGHTS OF VALOUR 2 ............... 82% 

SOUND

In terms of sound, rarely has the Neo Geo failed in a match, as its 8Mhz Yamaha 2610 processor is powerful. Coupled with the large storage capacities of cartridges, let's say games were able to provide outstanding sound performances for a 16-bit machine. Well despite its younger age, PGM tilts quite clearly here, outrageously dominated: Sengoku 3 offers superior sound quality, in addition to a range of sounds, voices and music better chosen and more varied. Yet, it's still a notch below what was offering Sengoku 2 ...

SENGOKU 3.................................... 86%

 KNIGHTS OF VALOUR 2 ............... 69% 

REPLAY VALUE

Both Beat them Up have a lot of tricks up their sleeve for us to provide excellent life. First, both display an effective life taking over an hour to be cleared, if you can! Sengoku 3 offers to choose from six different characters, Knights of Valour 2 from five. Finally, it's possible in SNK game to choose the starting level, whereas in IGS' soft, several paths are proposed (three or four times) during the game. So it's heavy, good Beat 'em Up featuring phenomenal replay value! KOV2 takes ascendancy over its rival thanks to its four players mode, while S3 is only offering the traditional two-players action.

SENGOKU 3.................................... 85%

 KNIGHTS OF VALOUR 2 ............... 88% 

GAMEPLAY

Sengoku 3 starts from scratch, abandoning Sengoku 2 gameplay basics. Farewell guard, colored spheres, horseriding and spirit's transformations. In addition to better controls due to the smoother animation and the faster speed of characters, we are entitled to a new four-buttons configurationA triggers a weapon attack , B a punch or kick, C a jump, and D launches a projectile. Combine A, B, or A + B with down two times trigger "Ninja Arts", while a whole bunch of other attacks are carried out through combinations of buttons and directions. Dash and backdash are now part of the action, and throws are also included. Different projectiles can be used during the combats, offering a good variety at this point! But the highlight of the game, it's definitely the combo system. This one is rich and accessible, as players can perform several dozen of hits with a little practice! You got it, SNK game emphasizes this line of fun and addictive gameplay, which is even greater when you play two. Only flaw, the variety of enemies, which leaves to be desired: only a dozen different is not enough. Knights of Valour 2 features gameplay basics relatively close to those of its rival, with some nuances. Here too, we fight with weapons: The A button triggers an attack, B jumps, a long press on C activates the guard: and yes, KOV2 offers a guard, like Sengoku 2. By briefly pressing C a menu opens, in which appear the special weapons and attacks available. Our heroes can use bows, bombs, shurikens or other projectiles, like in Sengoku 3. As a bonus, special moves or magic can be activated. After selecting, pressing D triggers the selected attackThe game also features dash but not backdash, no throws either, but a combo system like in its rival. Warriors gain experience through the fights, and getting more level not only makes you stronger, but also gives you access to new special attacks. All this is very nice, but the comparison with Sengoku 3 runs short for the IGS game: not only SNK's soft offers a much more precise and pleasant control, but its attacks and combo system is light years aheadKnights of Valour 2 is far from demeriting and regain points with the fun of its four-players mode. Anyway, it's still not enough to compete effectively here.

SENGOKU 3.................................... 87%

 KNIGHTS OF VALOUR 2 ............... 79% 

CONCLUSION

If one relies solely on screenshots and rom size, one would have thought that IGS game was about to bury Noise Factory's production in one second: and it's not so! Knights of Valour 2 is certainly more beautiful and offers to play four simultaneously, but it's outclassed by Sengoku 3 on almost all points. The Neo Geo stands without shuddering in front of the PGM: despite the power of the latter, KOV2 tilts against its formidable rival, which certainly doesn't impress with its graphics, but wins this duel with a sublime animation, an excellent soundtrack, topped with an amazing gameplay!

SENGOKU 3

85%


KNIGHTS OF VALOUR 2

82% 


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