Samurai Shodown II
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|Samurai Shodown II|
Neo Geo AES cover art by Shinkiro
|Designer(s)||K. Y. Hayate|
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players simultaneously|
|Arcade system||Neo Geo (202 Mbit cartridge)|
|Display||Raster, 304 x 224 pixels (horizontal), 4096 colors|
Samurai Shodown II (真 SAMURAI SPIRITS 覇王丸地獄変 Shin Samurai Spirits Haōmaru Jigokuhen?, lit. "True Samurai Spirits - Haohmaru's Portrait of Hell"), is a 1994 fighting game released as a second entry in SNK's Samurai Shodown series.
Following up on the extremely enthusiastic fan reception of the first Samurai Shodown game, SNK rebuilt the sequel from the ground up, including almost all of its predecessor's cast, adding several new characters, and refining the overall gameplay with more responsive control, more moves (particularly the use of the POW meter as a super special move meter; these moves not only cause severe damage to the opponents but also break their weapons, forcing them to fight unarmed for a short interval before a replacement weapon is issued), and a substantial number of Easter eggs.
The overall gameplay was expanded to include several movement options, such as being able to roll forward and backward, ducking to avoid high attacks, or doing small hops to avoid low strikes. This game was also the first game to incorporate an offensive blocking technique or "parry", via a command issued at the last second, a player would be able to deflect the incoming attack and leave their adversary open to attack by a split second. Such a technique was later also used in Namco's Weaponlord and later popularized by Capcom's Street Fighter III. There are also cameo appearances from other SNK characters, a hidden boss who would occasionally come out to challenge players, and several other treats for fans to uncover.
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The cast of characters was expanded to include the following new additions:
- Genjuro Kibagami, who was to become Haohmaru's greatest rival.
- Cham Cham, a young, catlike girl who was the younger sister of Tam Tam (who was excluded from the game).
- Neinhalt Sieger, a knight from Prussia, who fights with a giant, gun-containing gauntlet.
- Nicotine Caffeine, an old, diminutive monk, and master of Haohmaru and Genjuro.
- Kuroko, the hidden boss of the game, is playable for the first time. Kuroko's movelist is interesting as he uses moves that are used by some of the characters in the game as well as characters from other SNK fighters such as Ryo Sakazaki. His super move in the game is a comical version of Ryo's Ryuko Ranbu.
- Rashojin Mizuki, the first female final boss in the series and the only boss to have assistance from an animal.
Samurai Shodown II was originally released for the Neo Geo arcades and home consoles in 1994. In spite of its considerable popularity, the game went for several years without being released on any other system, except a 1996 port of the Neo Geo CD version for Windows-based PCs only in Japan. It was ported to the PlayStation, in the form of the Samurai Spirits Kenkaku Shinan Pack (which combines the first two games into one package, and was also only released in Japan.
However, an Xbox Live Arcade port and a PlayStation 2/Wii anthology containing every Samurai Shodown game were announced at the Tokyo Game Show 2007. It was released on Xbox 360 on September 10, 2008, and on the Wii's Virtual Console in Europe on August 8, 2008 and in North America on August 25, 2008, at a cost of 900 Wii Points. On December 18, 2012, SNK Playmore released the game on the onboard memory of the Neo Geo X portable console. It was also ported for iOS and Android platforms and released on iOS App Store and Google Play in June 2013.
As with the original Samurai Shodown, the Neo Geo AES version censors all blood in the game. However, Samurai Shodown II also includes a "blood code" to enable all blood; SNK provided this code to gaming magazines for publication and to those who called their customer service department.
Samurai Shodown II was even better-received than the original. The four reviewers of EGM gave the Neo Geo home version a unanimous score of 9/10 and the "Game of the Month" title, saying that the game improved in every aspect over its already excellent predecessor. They later ranked it #4 in the 1995 EGM's "Hot 50", higher than any other fighting game. GamePro criticized that the combos are still unbalanced, with some characters able to do far more damage than others, but praised improvements such as the revised POW meter and secret moves, as well as "the best graphics ever seen in a hand-drawn animated fighting game." They further remarked that, in combination with other recent releases such as Fatal Fury Special, SNK was close to overtaking Capcom as the premiere maker of fighting games. A reviewer for Next Generation said that the game was the same as its predecessor aside from some "minor improvements", but that "that's what makes it so darn good."
Samurai Shodown II made GameSpot's list of the greatest games of all time and EGM's list of top ten cult classics. It was also ranked as the 18th best arcade game of the 1990s by Complex. Retro Gamer included it among top ten Neo Geo games: "With its beautiful graphics, silky smooth animation and eclectic character roster, the second part of SNKs Samurai Shodown series is easily its best. The 202-meg cart featured new fighters, glorious backdrops and even slicker controls than the impressive original. A massive arcade success, Samurai Shodown II was a fantastic two-fingered salute to Capcom and proved that SNKs style and ambition knew no bounds. It certainly lacks the depth of later games in the series, but for sheer fun and accessibility Samurai Shodown II is without equal. A truly monumental fighter that still plays brilliantly today." In 2008, they gave the XBLA re-release a review score of 91%.
According to Retro Gamer, "this incredible game proved that SNK was willing and able to challenge genre conventions and go toe to toe with Capcom in the fighting game arena. The heated competition between the two companies would last through the decade and beyond as both companies tried to out-innovate each other with each new release." The game's awkward Engrish text intro has often been commented on. Chad Okada (Game Lord) stated that efforts to localize the text were stunted as the small profit earned from Neo Geo home versions was not considered worth the time and money needed to fix translation errors.
- Lachel, Cyril. "Defunct Games - Top Ten Games That Brought Us to Capcom vs. SNK 2". Defunct Games - A Retro Video Game Site. Retrieved December 21, 2007.
Though this is the highlight of the series, it's odd that the game was never given justice on a home console (outside of the Neo Geo, of course).
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- EGM Staff. "Top 10 Cult Classics from 1UP.com". 1UP.com - A Video Game Review Site. Retrieved December 21, 2007.
- Rich Knight, Hanuman Welch, The 30 Best Arcade Video Games of the 1990s, Complex.com, August 28, 2013.
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- Retro Gamer issue 56 page 97.
- Retro Gamer 70 pages 75-76.
- Provo, Frank. "The History of SNK~Banking on NeoGeo". GameSpot. Retrieved June 2, 2008.