Samurai Shodown 2 on iOS: A Beautiful but INFURIATING Port of a Fighting Classic


Perhaps the best 2D one-on-one Slash ‘em Up ever arrives on iOS!

Some time ago, it was announced that SNK-Playmore was porting the classic Samurai Shodown 2 to iOS and Android- and that filled me with elation. I do not exaggerate when I say that I consider SS2 as one of the best, if not the best, 2D fighting games of all time. I played or watched this for countless hours in arcades, and even today while 3D fighters have come and mostly dominated, Shodown 2 is still a nostalgic favorite. In terms of roster, you’ve got 16 unique brawlers, each a wonderful and interesting design- from Shodown poster boy ronin Haohmaru and his spiky hair and katana to the massive German knight Sieger with his freakin’ iron arm- you’re sure to be intrigued with each warrior and their cool fighting styles/weapons.

THis SEEMS to be an excellent port- in simple graphics, look, animation and feel it seems to be all here- characters retain all their attacks, win animations and often amazing and flashy desperation moves.
Stages retain their lush detail and animated elements, along with the ever-present hooded referees and the occasional special item thrown into the ring that can affect the tide of battle with a health recovery or a punishing bomb. The short story cutscenes and assumedly the character endings are there And yes, the signature fatalities (Yes, SS2 has fatalities) are in- the fatal arterial spray or the enemy getting sliced in half (it’s not as gory as it is stylish) is in.

There seems to be only a couple of modes- Single Player and Multiplayer (not into that but I’m sure it’s great), but that’s really all you need. Options include some visual tweaks (ability to enable or disable scan lines for that old-school arcade look) and screen format from 16:9, 4:3 or windowed mode, and the ability to adjust button placement on the screen. Loading times are pretty much non-existent. I was expecting extras like a gallery of unlockable art but there seems to be none, but that’s no biggie.

This would be all well and good but UNFORTUNATELY…

This game is hamstrung by two glaring issues that pretty much kill the enjoyment.

ONE, the controls. The Touchscreen interface seems to have a workable interface of delivering the required game controls- you can switch between the classic/original 4-button layout or a 6-button one that has buttons corresponding to AB and CD button combinations- which makes executing the two-button commands a bit easier.
Sadly, the touchscreen is NOT as responsive as it NEEDS to be, at least against the CPU. You will not be able to pull of the fast jabs and fluid moves because the joystick cannot follow your movements perfectly, nor can the buttons respond to fast sequences of attacks. More often than not you’ll be jamming on the buttons and seeing your character do one slow attack when you were intending two. Or more often than not you’ll be pressing in the wrong place as you can’t actually SEE the buttons, since the buttons disappear when the fighting starts- a design choice to keep from impeding the game visuals, but I wish the devs had given the option to toggle this.

The second big issue is the CPU AI- it is FAR too hard. Even at the LOWEST setting (1 of 9), I could not, for the life of me, defeat the fourth opponent (or second, depending on who I am facing). The CPU is just too fast, too quick on their feet. They evade your blows or block everything perfectly, they counter everything you do, punish any missed moves with maximum damage, and whenever you get in close they will THROW you. And again. And AGAIN. I am not a Samurai Shodown expert, but damn, at lowest setting you’d expect to do progress, but this is murder. At one point I was ready to smash my iPad into the wall.

If you have some mates with an iOS device and this game, multiplayer would be a finer proposition, but the single player campaign and story endings are worth seeing, but are locked behind this almost impenetrable difficulty. Yes, you have endless continues, but good luck on beating the game before your battery runs out unless you’re a Shodown God.

Unless you get controller support or the AI gets a good tweaking, this is a game for SNK loyalists or gaming masochists only. Shame that such an awesome game could deliver such pain. Well, I guess it’s a great tool for anger management.

Leave a Reply


4 + three =