Samurai Shodown II / Shin Samurai Spirits: Haohmaru Jingokuhen
Last Updated: 2/23/2013 Developer(s): SNK Publisher(s): SNK Artwork by: Eiji Shiroi Platform(s): Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Wii, Xbox 360 (XBLA), PS2, PSP, Windows Release Date(s): October 8th, 1994 (Arcade)
August 25th, 2008 ( Wii)
September 10th, 2008 (XBLA)
Characters: Haohmaru, Genjuro, Sieger, Cham Cham, Nicotine, Ukyo, Galford, Hanzo, Kyoshiro, Gen-an, Earthquake, Wan-Fu, Nakoruru, Charlotte, Jubei, Tam Tam, Kuroko, Mizuki
Related Games: Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 3, Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown 5, Samurai Shodown 5 Special, Samurai Shodown 6, Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown 64 - Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown Pocket, Samurai Shodown 2 Pocket, Samurai Shodown Warrior's Rage, Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny, Samurai Shodown Anthology, Street Fighter 2, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, World Heroes 2 Jet, Art of Fighting 2, King of Fighters '94, Darkstalkers, X-Men: Children of the Atom, Primal Rage, Mortal Kombat 2, Killer Instinct, Tekken
Gameplay Engine 9.5 / 10 Story / Theme 10 / 10 Overall Graphics 10 / 10 Animation 10 / 10 Music / Sound Effects 10 / 10 Innovation 10 / 10 Art Direction 10 / 10 Customization 8 / 10 Options / Extras 9 / 10 Intro / Presentation 9.5 / 10 Replayability / Fun 10 / 10 "Ouch" Factor 10 / 10 Characters 10 / 10 BOTTOM LINE
10 / 10
Review based on Arcade version Final Words:
Who could forget the memorable characters, backgrounds, music, and the intense, yet classy & stylish samurai battles to the death? I certainly didn't, as Samurai Shodown 2 is still one of my "top 5" favorite fighting games of all time. I was racking up win streaks at the arcades when SS2 first came out in 1994, and I can still play a deadly Genjuro (among others) after all these years.... Doriyaaah!
What more could you want out of a fighting game in 1994, or now even? Because if a fighting game was ever balanced, you're looking at it... every character in the game can kick some serious ass under the control of a skilled player. Some may think the damage in SS2 is a bit too drastic, but it's not unreasonable considering the subject matter, and also allows players who are low on life to make epic comebacks if they make smart decisions. Also worth mentioning is that the CPU AI is really challenging in this game... in a fun way. If you're not careful against the computer, it'll kick your ass!
As you can tell, I can't really say enough good things about Samurai Shodown 2... all I can say is, I'd still throw down in this game any day of the week. For the record, SS2 and SS4 are still my all time favorite games of the Samurai Shodown series, and are two of my favorite SNK fighting games of all time. Samurai Shodown 2 is a masterpiece that deserves its place in the fighting game hall of fame. ~TFG Webmaster
STORY: Amakusa Shirou Tokisada, cause of the calamities occurring worldwide and driven to resurrect the Dark Deity Ambrosia, was slain by a single samurai whose existence was never recorded by history. This person deeply involved with the resurrected Amakusa, Haohmaru, was suddenly attacked one night. But the one who was up easily defeated was not Haohmaru, but the sinister assailant... Haohmaru's attacker was clearly manipulated by someone or some evil force. The would-be assassin gasps a final promise to Haohmaru. "I'll have your soul one day.... Ambrosia...lives." The evil ones are after him!
Haohmaru, sensing an evil force rivaling Amakusa, pays a visit on his old fencing master. While Haohmaru relates his story, his master's visage grows unusually grim. "Stay away. You have undeniably grown stronger. But you must not confront them. Do you understand?" His master obviously knows more, but grows silent, and besides Haohmaru isn't listening anyway. That night, they share a few drinks to celebrate their reunion after a long separation, and at dawn Haohmaru slips out unannounced to embark on his journey. An audacious smile plays on his lips.
An awesome line-up of weapon-wielding warriors.
REVIEW: Samurai Shodown II (known as Shin Samurai Spirits: Haohmaru Jingokuhen in Japan - which translates to True Samurai Spirits: Haohmaru's Portrait of Hell), is the arcade sequel to the hit 2D weapon-based fighting game from SNK. This installment presents updated character and background graphics, featuring completely re-drawn 2D sprites with all new animations (something Capcom wasn't doing with the SF2 series). Actually, nearly everything in the game shines with "newness," including the awesome character selection screen, artwork, and background music. SNK wasn't messing around... that's for sure!
In 1994, the competition within the fighting genre was downright fierce... but Samurai Shodown 2 came prepared for battle! There seems to be a reason behind every minute detail in the game, and sometimes it takes a keen eye to notice all of these details. With headlining titles like Mortal Kombat 2, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, and X-Men: Children of the Atom... it wouldn't have been a surprise for a gamer to have skipped over the brilliance of Samurai Shodown 2, and they certainly would've been missing out.
Nicotine VS Genjuro.
Samurai Shodown II adds new characters to the charismatic roster, including: Cham Cham, Neinhalt Sieger, Caffeine Nicotine, and the badass, blood-thirsty samurai, Genjuro Kibagami. Not only do the new characters offer awesome new fighting styles, but returning veterans have a ton of new abilities, including some epically flashy super moves. SS2 improves on nearly every aspect from the original, and adds a new gameplay element - Weapon Breaks, allowing players to "break" their opponent's weapon.
A Weapon Break occurs immediately after a super move connects. The character hit with the super move will lose their weapon for a brief period of time, forced to fight unarmed. Skilled players can still hold their own when fighting barehanded (at least until their weapon "magically" re-appears from the sky in about 10-15 seconds.) ... but they will take severe guard damage when blocking without a weapon. The Weapon Break element really "makes the game" if you ask me and adds a considerable amount of drama (and strategy) to each battle. It's the icing on the cake to an already innovative and fun gameplay system, and another reason why SS2 stands out from other 2D fighters.
Just like in Street Fighter 2, air blocking doesn't exist, so players will experience good-old "anti-air mind games"... and due to the cool projectile variety of the Samurai Shodown characters, there are plenty of cool projectile wars and strategies to be had. Thanks to the simple (yet sharp) mechanics, the character roster ends up being considerably balanced. Every character in the game has their strengths & weaknesses, and each can be used effectively. Like in the first game, the animation becomes delayed (AKA slow motion) when powerful attacks connect, which actually effects gameplay and the timing of combos... plus it looks really really cool. On that note, the "pace" of SS2's gameplay is truly unique.
Stylish fights to the death.
The Rage system from SS1 also returns, and once again adds a strategic element to the gameplay. In addition to dealing greater damage when the Rage Meter (A.K.A. POW Meter) is full, Super Moves can now be performed when the meter is at 100%, and most of which look nothing short of spectacular when they connect. Also, commands for Super Moves are conveniently shown about the Rage Meter when they're able to be performed... nice touch SNK!
In addition, SS2 features a few "hidden" gameplay secrets, such as taunting (and taunt canceling, too). Actually, every character has 2 different taunts, and for the most part, they're epic (and/or hilarious)... and they usually make sense and "flow" with the pace of battle, as well. The visual presentation of a battle in Samurai Shodown is unrivaled by very few other fighting games of the era... everything about the game is just so damn epic. Like in the prequel, a well placed finishing strike at the end of a battle can split your opponent in half, or even give the winning fighter a shower in their opponent's blood.... Beautiful stuff.
Samurai Shodown 2 is regarded by many as one of, if not the best version in the series for its refined gameplay, style, and characters. Not only does SS2 play like a gem, but the art style and distinctive "mood" of SS2 is beautiful, inspiring, and simply badass. From the detailed and charismatic character designs and brilliant artwork, to the awesome music, sound effects & voice acting, to the elaborately designed, gorgeous hand-drawn backgrounds that place you right into ancient Japan, Samurai Shodown II is a work of art... and a brilliantly designed fighting game.