written and screenshots by Blaine

US Title: Last Blade 2
Japanese Title: Gekka no Kenshi 2
Year: 1998
Size: 554 Megs
Home Release? Yes
MVS Release? Yes
CD Release? Yes


Another fighting game?  Another SAMURAI fighting game?  What's the thinking behind that?  You don't see Neversoft making a new skateboarding game when they already make the world's most famous skateboarding game, Tony Hawk Pro Skater.  When you own a market, why bother?  Why should SNK make another franchise when they already have the great Samurai Shodown franchise with fans who are drooling at the thought of Samurai Shodown 5!  The answer I came up with is because this was a game that had to be made.  It's brutal and elegant...beautiful. It's a true masterpiece and ranks among the highest nobility of not only the Neo•Geo, not only of fighting games, but of video games in general.



Often called the biggest flaw by it's fans
.  Last Blade 2 posses some gameplay problems, namely player balanceCharacters are credited, more so than normally, with either being cheap, weak or better the first time (examples being Mukoro, Washizuka and Setsuna).  While this does unhinge the gameplay dynamics slightly, I personally find it oddly fitting.  It seems that Last Blade 2 was created to be a very grounded and almost realistic fighting game, if that is imaginableIn real life, some people are very very strongSome people are very very weak.  We as gamers often assume automatically that all characters in a game are balanced.  That if one person is slow, they are also very strong.  If one person is faster, they are probably weaker.  Everyone knows the archetype in their head.  Just tell yourself this is not the case with this game.  Murkoro is viciously strong, quick and well suited to a button  Just because a playing field is uneven doesn't automatically make it wrong.  You should not let this harm your enjoyment of a grand title.  If you accept this flaw at face value it no longer is a bad thing, it adds character to the adds originality.  Whether this was the intent when the game was made was irrelevant, the point is to derive enjoyment from the game and if it helps to see it in that light, all the better.




The balance issue aside, Last Blade 2 has a great feel to it.  Varying strength slash moves as well as a kick and counter button, standard block and special move motions will come easily to fighting veterans, the learning curve will be no harder or easier for newbies to the genre.


After choosing a character, the player is presented with a choice of 'supers'.  Speed and Power (and the secret EX mode).  Speed can best be described as a Custom Combo from Street Fighter 2 Alpha.  After performing the move your character flashes blue and charges the opponent, you can then perform devastating combos by pressing buttons in a series, or just causing damage but slapping the buttons randomly.  The Power mode allows players to perform a traditional "super", a powerful special move.  For most characters Speed is a very good option, but for all characters Power is a reasonably good optionUntil you become familiar with a character, I recommend picking Power.  EX mode has the benefits of Speed but should only be used by skilled experts as novices who try this hidden mode will be quickly killed.

Also present in the game are the Double Supers or Super Desperation moves that SNK is so famous for.
  Super moves performed when the "Super Bar" is filled and your health is low (flashing red) can 'change the tides of a battle quickly' layman's terms, hurt the other guy a lot.






Gorgeous. The pre-match cinemas are vintage SNK, pure gold.  The characters are well drawn with deep palette and plenty of frames of animation.  The characters are a very original breed.  There are some off-the-wall characters but to their credit they all feel like they could be the star of the game.  There are no quirky sidekicks and comic relief characters.  Everyone is a killer, plain and simple.  There are plenty of eye candy effects with the specials and supers and the spurt of blood from the 'fatalities' feels like an homage to the Lone Wolf In Cub samurai movies.  The visual goes from one of pure violence towards a more poetic image of death and finally towards the sublime, a dance of colors and movement that appeal to the beast-nature inside everyone.  Think I'm talking out of my ass, just trying to make it sound good?  Watch it.  Really watch it and see if you disagree.  I think you'll be surprised and pleased.


Backgrounds are stylized and match the mood of the game perfectly, the separately animated sprite fields add a wonderful sense of depth and movement and they augment the character graphics in a way that adds flair and imagery with out competing or detracting from the characters themselves.


The Neo•Zoom was definitely present and I'm pleased to say was the BEST use of that graphic utility I've ever seen.  At all times the frame rate was smooth and constant, characters remained in focus and as large as possible as well as being a sort of complex zoom where the screen moves in and out as well as side to side in a way that some games have, but none pull off quite as well as Last Blade 2.



I've always considered Last Blade 2 to be the definitive Neo•Geo game when it came to sound merits.  I've never encountered another game with such depth and just well executed audio.  First the sound effects are top notch. Every movement no matter how slight has a sound associated with it.  You could close your eyes and know exactly what is happening based solely on the sounds.  What impressed me most was the blocking sounds.  If you strike your opponent, you'll hear a sharp slicing steel cutting through flesh or cloth.  Exactly what you'd expect, of course.  Now if they block'll hear something a little different.  All characters have different weapons and some produce different sounds when they block, the best example being Hibiki.  She has a wooden sheath for her sword and when she blocks the sound is that of metal hitting wood.  When Shigen blocks there is the sound of metal hitting metal.  Not something most people would notice but that's what truly makes a game excellent...the little things.


The soundtrack is WONDERFUL.  Every stage has a well orchestrated and suited soundtrack to go with it.  The second stage has almost no sound at all, just the howling wind and rustling leaves.  An almost startling absence of music that sells the game concept better than any other single example I could give.  It has a feeling of desolation and loneliness...two people ready to kill each other.  It chills my blood in a very cool way.


Reviewer's Tilt

Sadly another example of a good game struck down by bad circumstances.  Last Blade 2 still stands in the shadow of it's older brother, the original Last Blade and has suffered the sharp tongue of many a critic.  Last Blade 2 has had some of the worst reviews I have ever seen and has unfairly been overlooked for far too long.  Although not the best port the world has seen, Last Blade 2 for the Sega Dreamcast is a GREAT pick-up and should be required playing for those who don't own a 'real' copy of the game.

Personally I can tell you that this review seems more like I'm talking about an art-house flick than a video game! 
I realize that but that's exactly what it feels like...




More Reviews of This Game:

by BonusKun

by LWK

by Kazuya_UK/Yamguy - Courtesy of Kazuya's

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