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The Last Blade 2
  

  
STORY:  The Last Blade is set in 1863 during the Bakumatsu, the final years of the Tokugawa shogunate where a clash of ideologies were fighting to decide Japan's new society. Long before humanity existed, in a far off time of myth, death was an unknown, equally distant concept, but when death first came to the world, the "Messenger from Afar" was born. With time, the Sealing Rite was held in order to seal Death behind Hell's Gate. At that time, two worlds, one near and one far, were born. Thus the history of life and death began.


Half a year has passed since Suzaku's madness, and the underworld is still linked by a great portal. Kagami's great sin is still heard as if ringing from the heavens. Our world has been called upon. Legends of long ago told of the sealing of the boundary between the two worlds. The Sealing Rite would be necessary to hold back the spirits of that far away world. However, the Sealing Rite brings together the power of the Four Gods and Sealing Maiden, for the first time properly completing the ritual. To find the Sealing Maiden, Genbu began searching in the center of the world, from which all things begin. At the same time in the underworld, in the depths of darkness, many spirits conspired, plotting to hinder the Sealing Rite. They had but one wish, to be reborn into our world.

 

It's a battle of Power VS Speed.

   
REVIEW
Set one year after the first installment, Last Blade 2 adds three new playable characters: Hibiki, Kojiroh, and Setsuna. Each of the newcomers retain the "traditional" samurai style that the original Last Blade roster became known for... although, Setsuna almost looks a bit King of Fighters-inspired (and he's a badass). Last Blade 2's presentation doesn't disappoint, as it includes a brand new animated intro and all new superb-looking hand drawn backgrounds. Of course, game and character balance has also been tweaked from the original.

 

Looking for a gorgeous, traditional 2D weapon based fighter? Look no further... 

 

Graphically, Last Blade 2 stands out among 2D fighters of the time... even more so than the first game. There's never a moment where Last Blade 2 doesn't look impressive. Before a battle starts, each stage presents a short cinematic intro... setting the "mood" of the stage. Once the action starts, the detailed character sprites and amazing hand-drawn backgrounds do the talking, filling the screen with color and personality. Needless to say, Last Blade 2 is one of SNK's best-looking 2D fighting games to date.


The orchestral style soundtrack naturally suits the game perfectly, but I'd say some tracks are slightly too "calm" for a fighting game. The sound effects are fantastic, with the distinguishing clanging of swords, steel cutting through flesh, and powerful dialogue & battle cries from the characters themselves. It all comes together exceptionally well, offering a unique presentation all around. Of course, a fighting game can't survive on looks alone... but if one could, Last Blade 2 would live a long life.

 

Out of the way brat.

 

Thankfully, Last Blade 2 is still a fun and interesting 2D fighter. Like the prequel, the gameplay is based heavily on chain combos and setting up powerful attacks. Players can still choose between "Speed" or "Power" versions of their characters, which greatly alters how a they play, right down to their special moves.


Speed Mode opens up the door to longer combo possibilities (and custom combos), while Power Mode is a more traditional and straight forward style of 2D fighting, enabling characters to perform super moves. The counter/parry system also returns and feels more solid than before. LB2's character variety is still decent, but I'd consider it a step down from the likes of Samurai Shodown series in terms of personality and interesting play-styles. LB2's roster also isn't the most balanced one around, as there are some "cheap" tricks/combos that can be used for easy victories, but overall... LB2 offers a solid 2D gameplay engine.


At PlayStation Experience 2015, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita ports of Last Blade 2 were announced. The updated ports were released in May 2016 and feature a nice variety of modes (including online play) and visual options. There's even an option to turn on "blood" which adds Samurai Shodown style "deaths" at the end of battles.

 

 

Page Updated: January 10th, 2020
Developer(s): SNK
Publisher(s): SNK
Platform(s): Arcade, NeoGeo, NeoGeo CD, Dreamcast, PS2, PS4, Vita, Windows
Release Date(s): Nov. 25th, 1998                Arcade
1998                                        Arcade
Jan. 28th, 1999                /   NeoGeo
Feb. 27th, 1999                 NeoGeo CD
Dec. 21st, 2000                 Dreamcast
Aug. 6th, 2001                   Dreamcast
Jan. 12th, 2006                PS2 - in NeoGeo Online Collection
May 25th, 2016               PS4 / PSVita
Characters Kaede, Moriya, Yuki, Juzoh, Akari, Amano, Shigen, Zantetsu, Mukuro, Washizuka, Rekka, Genbu, Kojiroh, Kagami, Hibiki, Setsuna, Kouryu, Musashi (console)

Featured Video:

Related Games: The Last Blade, The Last Blade: Beyond The Destiny, Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown, Soul BladeSoul Calibur, Bushido Blade 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter 3: 2nd Impact, King of Fighters '98, Guilty Gear, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Fatal Fury Real Bout 2, Martial Masters
  

Gameplay Engine  8.5 / 10
Story / Theme  8.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  9.0 / 10
Animation  9.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  8.5 / 10
Innovation  7.0 / 10
Art Direction  9.0 / 10
Customization  8.0 / 10
Options / Extras  7.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  7.5 / 10
Characters  8.0 / 10
BOTTOM LINE

 8.6 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version     

 

Final Words:

You might say The Last Blade 2 was a "sleeper hit" by SNK... if there ever was one. Last Blade's traditional warriors are a bit more fleshed out this time around, but still aren't the most "exciting" fighting game characters around (in 1998, that is). 1998-1999 was a very competitive time in the fighting genre, making it understandable why Last Blade 2 was a very overshadowed fighting game game that flew under the radar.

As technical and as fun as it is, the gameplay still leaves something to be desired. As a Samurai Shodown fan, I can't help but directly compare LB2 to the fun of Samurai Showdown 2 or Samurai Shodown 4 (released 2 years prior). As a matter of fact, it's difficult not to think "Damn, I wish I could pick Genjuro." in Last Blade 2... but that's just me. On that note, a Samurai Shodown VS Last Blade crossover really should've happened back then. It would've been great for both franchises, and that way Last Blade 2 would've gotten a sequel at least.

Don't get me wrong, Last Blade 2 is a gorgeous game and it's even worth getting good at (and unbalances as it is)... but, I still don't find it to be as fun or as solid as other 2D fighters from the era. I put a few hundred competitive matches into LB2, but as far as 2D weapon-based combat goes, I strongly prefer the characters and gameplay of Samurai Shodown. Tough competition, I know! Compared to some other fighting games of the time, Last Blade 2 was definitely a trailblazer and ahead of it's time.

The Last Blade 2 is a must-play SNK fighting game... and if you enjoy traditional sword-based characters & combat, you might just fall in love with various aspects of the game. As underrated and under-appreciated as it is, Last Blade 2 is pound for pound one of SNK's all time best. 
~TFG Webmaster  
 

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