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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

Review: King of Fighters R2 and Samurai Shodown! 2

Developer: SNK

Publisher: SNK

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Price: $7.99 each.

The Nintendo Switch has been a pinnacle platform for many reasons, but among them has been able to introduce a new audience to older games. SEGA AGES, in particular, has been releasing its classic library of games, from Sonic The Hedgehog to Phantasy Star. Now, SNK has stepped into a similar footing with the re-releases of its classic games. Earlier this year, they re-released the Neo Geo Pocket exclusive, Gal Fighters, and have now followed up with the release of King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2. Both games are spinoffs of legendary SNK franchises, having been exclusively released for the Neo Geo Pocket until now. Featuring a few new enhancements, King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 on the Nintendo Switch are great re-visits of classic games.

King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are spinoffs of the King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown franchises respectively. Both were released on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, the handheld gaming platform from SNK. The system was able to hold its own and leave lasting impressions with its players, an impressive feat in a field controlled by Nintendo's Gameboy. Even more daunting was taking the sophistication of an arcade cabinet video game and placing it onto an 8-bit handheld gaming system with one analog stick and only two buttons. At the time, fighting games did not have the best reputation on handheld systems. In fact, they were embarrassing efforts, broken and completely unplayable. For King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2, the mold was shattered as both games featured incredibly tight gameplay and strong presentation, capturing Both franchises are fighting games, with players squaring off against a variety of incredibly diverse and distinct opponents. King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are known for its stellar presentation, with the trademark level of detail and animation. Most importantly, King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 responsive combat, and despite having only two-button, combo could be executed through both the buttons and the analog stick.

King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are both fighting games each game has a selection of fighters to choose from, each with their own abilities and moves, as well as fighting type. The key difference between the two are the specific genres of fighting games that each game encompasses. King of Fighters R2 is more of a traditional fighting game, involving combos, fists, kicks, and special powers. On the contrary, Samurai Shodown! 2 is focused on the use of melee weapons as well as special abilities. King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are fight games, but their mechanics are significantly different.

King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 both have several different modes. While each game features different modes, both have a single-player arcade mode, embarking players on a quest to save the world. For King of Fighters R2, the story is based on King of Fighters '98, while Samurai Shodown! 2 is based on Samurai Showdown 64. The story is told through brief text boxes, but the primary focus on each game are the mechanics in the gameplay and the kind of fighting to be learned.

King of Fighters R2 is a faster style of fighting game. Players choose one of a multitude of characters, then face off against a variety of fighters. Each fighter has their own move set and special power to use. Like its predecessors, each character in King of Fighters R2 has a very distinct fighting style and move set to learn. Some characters are better at close range, while others are faster and more nimble. There are over 23 characters to unlock, including hidden ones, and with a large selection of starter characters, there is plenty for players to sink into. King of Fighters R2 also allows for Team Mode, which has the player play amongst a team of fighter, as well as a Making Mode, which allows players to customize their own character.

Samurai Shodown! 2, by comparison, is a slower game but defined in the style of fighting and not the technical performance. The game has players wielding weapons, and various moves, such as parrying, need to be taken into consideration during combat. As such, Samurai Shodown! 2 almost becomes an entirely different fighting game, where mashing buttons may not be the most sound strategy. Each character wields a different weapon, making their range and damage completely different to each character. Some characters can most faster using a small blade but others may be slower using a sword. Samurai Shodown! 2 features a bevy of character to choose from. The more players play, the more that is unlocked, including a collectible card system that can enhance a character for combat.

King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are both incredibly enjoyable, even in 2020. The simplicity and responsiveness of the controls for both games creates a wonderful sensation of feedback and response. Moving and fighting doesn't feel foreign or strange but feels extremely accurate. There was a conscientious effort in the design and implementation fo two leading fighting games onto such a small platform and it clearly shows with the animation and hit detection. Sacrifices were clearly made as the levels aren't lively and every character has been turned into a chibi, but regardless, the gameplay is still incredibly spot on, and the visual flair exuded by the characters are impressive. The combat is still intense and even on Easy, the fighter AI can be relentless and snatch victory in a moment. Overall, King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are both remarkable fighting games that are exceptional in their own ways.

For their re-release on Nintendo Switch, King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 have a few additional enhancement, though have one significant drawback. The biggest drawback is the aspect ration to each game. King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are played on a Neo Geo Pocket display within the Nintendo Switch. The original Neo Geo Pocket had a display of 256×256. For King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2, each game is played within this 256×256 screen, which is rather annoying. There is no way to expand the aspect ratio or make that screen larger. Perhaps this is for the best, as that expansion could district pixelate the game further and distort the image. It's best to play King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 in handheld mode on the Switch.

King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 does feature some enhancements. A rewind feature allows players to rewind their gameplay progress to a point to give players another chance to fight. The skin of the Neo Geo Pocket display can be changed to show the different skins the Neo Geo Pocket had during its lifetime. This includes having no borders to focus squarely on the gameplay. Finally, if another player wishes to play, Tabletop mode allows two players to hold one switch and control the game on each opposite end. The original versus mode is available as well.

King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are two wildly enjoyable games, more than twenty years later. The gameplay still holds up more than several decades later, the visual presentation is still charming and well done. King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 are game strongly recommended for the fiercest of fighting game enthusiasts, but exceptional for those looking at a new fighting game to play, as well as a special piece of gaming history. The Nintendo Switch is essential becoming a new Neo Geo Pocket. King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 should definitely be in your library.

King of Fighters R2 & Samurai Shodown! 2 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch thanks to a generous review key received by Homerun PR.

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