Samurai Shodown 2 review by Rade
Welcome to the strange yet wonderful world of the Samurai. Well, actually, SNK's twisted vision of the Samurai, to be more accurate. A land of pink haired pugilists and weapon wielding warriors with extravagant clothing who roam ancient Japan seeking battle and glory. Truly, this is a videogame of kings. Truly, this is Samurai Shodown II.
Ranked amongst one of the all time favorites of SNK fans everywhere, Samurai Shodown II (to be henceforth known as SS2) was and is a showpiece title for NEOGEO owners the world over. This is a game filled to the very brim with graphical excellence of the 2D order, musical delights reminiscent of a samurai film, and the fun and open ended game play that SNK is known for in its fighters. SS2, if you haven't been able to understand yet, is one of those SNK games. And by those, I mean to say it is among the elite group of SNK fighting games that get it all right. This is pure fighting bliss and don't you pass this game up, don't you ever forget this wonderful, beautiful videogame.
Does it sound like I am gushing yet? Well it should be because never, never has a company been able to make me fall totally in love with a game world such as this one. From the colourful and likeable character designs (well, for the most part) to the overwhelming locations, this game truly has it in itself to make you fall in love with it. Do not get me wrong, though, this game is not just about the sense appeal as it is also incredibly satisfying to play. Ever since I started playing this game, I have somehow been able to find new ways to appreciate it: Subtleties that you would never be able to appreciate if you just played it on a shallow level. Trust me, take the time to truly digest this game and you will come away a different person. I know, that sounds kind of stupid, but trust me, on a game playing level, SS2 has the kind of game-culture impact that will change your perception - trust me! Play it a lot and you will see.
The gameplay works well in the sense that it never works against you. Special moves are easy to pull off and the super moves are configured so they actually require skill to execute. There is nothing worse when special moves are made too easy to perform as it kind of takes away from them being "special." Don't expect a combo heavy game either. If you are looking for 21 hit combos, check out SS4. Other than that, I have nothing else to say about the gameplay. In my opinion it is not flawed at all.
Graphics are really great considering the age of the game. By 1994 standards, this game was a pant-tightening jaw-dropper. Really! To a certain extent, it still holds up quite nicely. Colours are vibrant if not a little too liberally spread and the animation is quite adequate though, the quality of the character sprites does range from excellent to mediocre; the consistency leaves much to be desired. Of course, the pioneering SNK camera zoom technology is present and looking very cool. Sure, it's not as smooth as it is in more recent SNK games, but it still looks pretty good and is not as distracting as the early Art of Fighting games (ie: purely for show). The zoom also adds to my technique as I am allowed to keep a great distance from my samurai enemies.
I'm a sucker for sound and this game has me in it's mouth, baby! Look out! Kick-ass music and crisp stereophonic ambient sounds fill your ears with bliss and man, does it ever help do draw you in. It's quite the contrast really, to be bombarded by music in one level and the subdued by calm sounds the next. One great example of this is of course Galford's theme and Caffeine Nicotine's background sounds, respectively. Sound effects are what you expect; loud sword clangs, bloody gouge sounds, and well acted voice-play. Bliss.
In conclusion, I would like to add that SS2 is one of the most accessible games in the Neo Library, for it is common as dirt and as cheap as any Neo game gets. If you are looking for a decent title to start off you collection with, you would be hard pressed to find something better than SS2. Let's face it, who doesn't own SS2? Well, I'm sure a few don't, but I'm betting that a majority of Neo gamers/collectors own it. It's just that good.
More Reviews of This Game: