Developer: SNK Playmore
Price: $8.99
Version: 1.00
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

SNK have been busy bringing their classic games to iOS over the past couple of years, the most recent being Samurai Shodown II, the classic 90s fighting game that pits fighters from different weapons-based martial arts against each other in a tournament to the death.

Besides the updated title screens, the visuals are as they first were when the game was originally released in 1994, which I personally love about this game. The animations are smooth and the stages are alive with animated spectators and smashable objects. The oriental music combined with the borderline-garish colours create a great atmosphere, and the broken-English subtitles (a personal favourite being: “you kindly give the palm to such a crock”) only add to the experience. It’s nice to see a proper retro game in a sea of faux-retro titles.

Players can choose one of 15 unique fighters, each with their own weapon of choice (my favourite being the gigantic forearm-gun for impractical reasons). There are both single player and Bluetooth multiplayer modes available, but no online mode as of yet, unfortunately.

The gameplay itself is Street Fighter-esque in style, in the sense that there are four onscreen buttons, two for upper body attacks and two for lower body, alongside the joystick and optional S button for easy special attacks. The attacks are varied and the special attacks are pretty brutal. However, unless players are using an iPad, the more powerful two-button attacks will be difficult to pull off.

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In terms of difficulty, opponents are tough, block nearly everything, and love to spam their special moves over and over. It’s every beat-em-up fan’s living nightmare. Not only does this make the stages incredibly hard, but when combined with the placement of the very transparent controls over the characters themselves, it makes for frustrating gameplay. The difficulty settings can be altered (the control transparency unfortunately cannot), yet I still struggled to beat my first few opponents. I’m 78% sure I’m not simply bad at fighting games. I refuse to believe it.

In summary, Samurai Shodown II is an enjoyable and nostalgic fighting game that comes from an age where the difficulty of a game was as much a selling-point as its story was. For those who are interested in playing a genre-defining game of the 90′s, and can ignore the frankly outrageous price tag, Samurai Shodown II will be a real treat. For those players who are easily frustrated, I’d steer clear of this one. Go and play Koi Pond or something.

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