Game Reviews

Samurai Shodown II

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Samurai Shodown II

There are some things that just don't work as well without physical controls, and traditional arcade beat-'em-ups are among them. There have been a few notable exceptions on iOS, but even those have succeeded in spite of their controls.

Samurai Shodown II doesn't quite succeed. It's a fun 2D beat-'em-up coated in lashings of nostalgia, but a flimsy control system and an overall feeling that the game is a little underdone will leave you longing for a cigarette-stained arcade machine instead of an iPad.

Arcade stuck

The game is a pretty much direct port of the original, so there's no polishing or HD-ification of the sprites. Some will love the chunky, pixellated look, but others might find the whole effect a little muddy.

You pick a fighter from the roster of 15 and battle your way through a series of one-on-one challenges to prove your mettle. There are eight difficulty settings to choose from, with the toughest offering up some incredibly difficult battles.

A stick on the left controls your movement and buttons on the right unleash blows. You can choose the standard four-button layout, or opt for a more accurate six-button selection that adds buttons to let you push two attacks together. An optional special button lets you perform a special move without using the joystick.

There's a full list of special moves for each character, but the imprecise nature of the stick means often you'll just end up jumping into the air while your computer-controlled opponent gets a free swing at you.

It makes for a frustrating experience - especially at higher difficulty levels, where timing is of the essence. On easier settings you can just spam your special move for a cheap win, but it's not the most entertaining way to progress.

No control

It's a shame, because this is a classic of mid-'90s scrapping and it deserves better. There are times when the game gets a chance to shine through, and the multiplayer Bluetooth battles are still fun, but there's too much baggage here to recommend to anyone who isn't a fan of the original.

Get past the broken controls and you'll find a fighting game that just about stands up to modern scrutiny, but doing that is a lot easier said than done.

Samurai Shodown II

While the original remains a classic, Samurai Shodown II for iOS is too glitchy and broken to really recommend