In the deluge of ports making their way to the iOS, it can be hard for a game to break to the surface, catch a breath of air and take on a life of its own. Samurai Shodown II was one such game that garnered the respect and love of old school gamers. But can this port to the iOS deliver the nostalgic kick to their systems, or just kick them in the gut with disappointment?
Samurai Shodown II was part of SNK’s acclaimed series of fighting games that came out for the Neo Geo in 1994. It was a huge hit amongst fans and owners of the system. Sadly, the Neo Geo wasn’t the most popular of systems and not enough people played this fun fighter. Eventually, it was ported over to the PSN, XBLA, and Wii Virtual Console. But now, it has finally made it over to iOS.
The first thing that you’ll notice about Samurai Shodown II is that it has retained all of the retro looks of the original Neo Geo game. It is awash with technicolor craziness and characters ridiculous enough to fit into any fighting game. Sadly though, while the graphics still look okay, they do feel a bit dated. An overhaul to smooth out the rough edges would have been a nice touch.
As it is with most fighting games, the story is more or less negligible and basically just a fishing line plot to hang an assortment of fights from. The real highlight of any fighting title is the actual gameplay.
Samurai Shodown II offers you the ability to customize the control layout of your attack buttons. The real issue with this control scheme is the absurd assortment of buttons. You have the choice of going with the retro four button scheme or the six button layout. Add in the special powers button and you can have a total of seven buttons used to attack your opponents. That is just way too many for a touchscreen interface to handle. It becomes a convoluted mess and on the iPhone it blocks a considerable amount of screen real estate, because much of the time your thumbs sit right above the characters. Also, not having the tactile feel of buttons makes it difficult to hit the exact button you’re looking for. On the iPad, the game is much less cluttered, but if you're on an iPhone, you're out of luck.
What would have really brought this port up to date would be if it utilized the gestures available on iOS touchscreens. It would be fantastic if Samurai Shodown II allowed you to swipe at head height for high attack and low for a sweeping kick to knock the legs out from under your opponent. Special attacks could also be mapped to more complex gestures and really help with the immersion and skill within the title. At the very least, it might free up some space for you to actually see what you’re doing.
The sound of Samurai Shodown II is wonderfully nostalgic of the old days of gaming. Your ears will be treated to sounds that you haven’t heard in a long while. It keeps the nostalgia flowing while you try and fight with the control scheme.
One of the largest complaints about this title is the price. $8.99 is a big chunk of money for an iOS port for an old Neo Geo game. Is it worth it? Well, for the nostalgic gamer with deeper pockets looking to relive fights from their past, then yes. But if you’re just looking for a fighting game, then you might want to look elsewhere since the bargain bin in the App Store has some seriously fun titles.
Overall, Samurai Shodown II is basically a straight port of a classic game to the iOS. It doesn’t do much to optimize the new hardware of current mobile devices and that's where the title falls down a bit. It is nice to see an old cult classic still breathing and, in spite of those damn controls, Samurai Shodown II for the iOS is still a lot of nostalgic fun.